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3 retention strategies as employers realize ‘back to work doesn’t work’

After 18 months of working from home, employees are in the driver’s seat, assessing what matters most in their careers, forging their professional paths and forcing companies to cobble together new retention strategies to mitigate top talent drain. Known as “The Great Resignation,” this staggering exit has workers searching for a more diverse workplace, opportunities for advancement and an overall healthy workplace culture.

Understanding the Mass Exodus

A new report by Limeade found that 28% of employees are so burned out that they are leaving jobs without a new role lined up. Top causes of burnout included lack of workplace engagement and increased anxiety over taking sick days or time off while working remote. Joblist surveyed thousands of job seekers across the country and unveiled their report on the Q3 job market this week. Here are some of their key findings:

  • 58% of hospitality workers say they are planning to quit their jobs before the end of 2021
  • 73% of currently employed job seekers report they are thinking about quitting their jobs
  • Top reasons for workers quitting their old jobs were unhappiness with how their employer treated them during the pandemic (19%), low pay or lack of benefits (17%), lack of work-life balance (13%) and seeking a new career path or switching fields (20%)

The American Psychological Association conducted their 2021 Work and Well-Being Survey of 1,500 United States employees between July 26 and August 4, 2021. The poll showed that the main reasons so many employees are switching jobs are work-related stress (59%), low salaries (56%), long hours (54%) and lack of opportunity for growth and advancement (52%).

Visier analyzed its anonymous and standardized database of workforce data from 11 million employee records at more than 11,000 companies. The new report shows that employees are following through on their intent to quit and making job changes in record volumes. The report uncovered which employees are quitting voluntarily highlighting the need for tailored mitigation efforts to address the talent drain happening at the heart of organizations:

  • Experienced, tenured employees are leaving. The resignation rate of employees with a five-to-10 year tenure is 56.8% higher than in 2020 and for employees with a 10 to 15 year tenure is 54.6% higher in 2021 than in the same period of 2020. 
  • Mid-career professionals are resigning at high rates as well. The rate of increase for age groups that are typically more stable and slow to change has risen at a significant rate in 2021. Employees aged 30 to 35, 40 to 45 and 45 to 50 have all increased their resignation rates by over 38%. 
  • Resignation rates are higher for women. While both genders saw increased growth in resignation rates in the first eight months of 2021, the growth rate for women was 17% higher than men, indicating that women’s rate of resignations is growing faster than the rate for men.

Strategies for Organizations to Mitigate Talent Drain

According to the American Psychological Association’s study, 87% of respondents said employers could take steps to reverse the large turnover rates by addressing employee mental health such as more flexible work hours (34%), supporting employee health care (30%), encouraging workers to take paid time off (30%) and promoting breaks during the workday (30%). Salary and benefit increases were also cited as job keepers. Michelle Hay, chief people officer at Sedgwick also stressed employee mental health as an essential focus. “How employees are treated during a transitional period matters, and what really matters is how prepared people leaders are to help with transitioning and how empathetic they are to colleagues.”

A recent survey by MentorcliQ, found that because 50% of professionals plan to leave their jobs in the next year, companies are hustling to implement programs to address the staggering turnover rates and save on replacement costs. “We’re currently in one of the hottest job markets in recent history and employers have found themselves searching for ways to hold onto their talent,” said Gracey Cantalupo, CMO of MentorcliQ. “Many companies have done their best over the past year and a half; however, lack of employee engagement, career pathing and sense of belonging are the top three reasons that drive employees to leave a role. Employers need to find ways to keep employees engaged, and mentoring is one of the proven ways to make that happen.”

According to the MentorcliQ study, the financial implications of losing significant portions of a workforce may be more than most realize. One study shows that re-hiring and re-training costs a company on average 1.5 times of an employee's salary and takes more than six months to replace and retrain. Many organizations are turning to mentoring to help combat the Great Resignation and the results are inspiring: multinational health care services provider Cardinal Health is seeing $5.2 million in retention savings annually and a 50% decrease in employee turnover, due to their mentoring program.

As companies head into the fall planning season for 2022, MetorcliQ insists that it’s essential to think about long term talent retention plans. They shared three best strategies employers can use to combat turnover through the Great Resignation and beyond:

  1. Recognize It’s Not 2020 Anymore. At the start of the pandemic, companies tried all kinds of solutions to keep their employees “engaged.” Zoom happy hours, home office decor stipends, virtual team house tours—the creativity was innovative. And, it worked for a while. But as the saying goes, that was then, and this is now. These solutions have become table stakes at best and obsolete at worst. If you’re looking to take the Great Resignation head on, you need long-term, solid plans, not 2020’s band-aids. Mentoring is a modern way to help remote and hybrid employees stay connected and engaged.
  2. Keep Career Paths Moving Forward. One of the top reasons employees leave is because they feel stagnant in their roles. Over the past year, many organizations have put promotions and raises on the back burner, but to feel engaged in their work, employees must see a clear career path set forward for them, and feel like their managers, coworkers and the organization will help them thrive in their career. Mentoring is an excellent way to support and engage employees throughout their entire career path at an organization; over 70% of Fortune 500 companies use mentoring to increase employee engagement.
  3. Make Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Front and Center. Many organizations have been loud and proud about the causes they’ve championed over the past year, but employees now expect companies to level up and create a sense of community at work. Organizations that fail to create a sense of community leave employees feeling like they are in an organization where they don't really belong. Creating inclusive mentoring programs is key to attracting, engaging and retaining talent and making progress towards DEI goals. MentorcliQ partners with more DiversityInc Top 50 companies than any other mentoring software vendor and their clients have won the most Brandon Hall Awards for their DEI Mentoring Strategies.

“The Great Resignation is a serious threat that all companies face in today’s environment,” said Sedgwick’s Hay. “Over the course of the pandemic, the purpose of the office has changed—not only physically but employees’ mentality towards it. Remote work has given employees a new flexibility and lifestyle that many do not want to change. And it’s clear from the last two years that business initiatives can continue from the comfort of our own homes. The traditional office will need to be reconfigured for collaboration spaces that invite colleagues for purposeful reasons and will add to the bonding experience rather than going into work every day to just have a space to do your work,” she concluded.

 

This article was written by Bryan Robinson from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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