COVID-19 Resources

If Unemployment Rates are High, Why are My Employees Leaving? [Four Tips for Employee Retention in the Pandemic Age]

Written by Andrew Feldwerth on December 10, 2020

Warren Averett employee retention payroll tax credit

Now more than ever, it’s extremely important for companies to retain great talent.

Many companies believe that even if you lose someone good, there will be ten readily available candidates to replace them. That’s because it wasn’t that long ago when unemployment rates were low, and companies were in competition to attract the best and brightest. The truth is, however, that the pandemic has shifted the talent market.

Now, it’s employees who are looking for a company that will be able to provide a certain level of comfort in uncertain times. And, while most companies have done everything they can to keep their star employees during the pandemic, it’s critical that businesses adopt a mindset that emphasizes retaining their team.

So, what are the best things to focus on when it comes to retaining talent? Your first thought might be pool tables, soda fountains and other fancy gadgets and accessories. Don’t get me wrong—any office is more enjoyable when it has these to offer—but they don’t ultimately fill the hole that employees want to be filled.

Below, I’ve identified several ideas to implement that will ultimately help with employee retention. These tips will help your company to retain the talent you won’t want to lose.

1. Check in with Your Team Beyond the Onboarding Process

I think we can all agree that the smoother the initial onboarding process goes, the better chance you have at retaining top talent. If you start off poorly, it can be very hard to turn things around for that team member who now has a sour taste in her mouth after the way she was treated upon arriving at your organization.

But, what about further down the road with that same employee? You may have a first-six-month check in—maybe even a year in review—for new employees, but why stop there?

Taking time to check in on your employees and to see how things are going for them should be done consistently for every employee no matter the tenure at the company.

If you have an employee who has been with a company for four years, and the last time you checked in on them was at the end of year one, there could be things bottled up that the employee hasn’t addressed. Often, these issues never get brought to the surface in the name of avoiding confrontation or because employees are afraid that their job could be affected in the process.

Creating periodic check-ins goes beyond the first year. It’s an ongoing practice. If you don’t incorporate this tactic, the employee who you thought was extremely satisfied will accept another position, and you will be left wondering what caused a change of heart.

2. Offer Flexibility in Time and Location

The pandemic has forced companies to allow employees to have more flexibility. When schools and communities locked down several months ago, working parents especially had their day-to-day routine turned upside down, and a 9 – 5 shift was no longer possible every day.

While this drastic change in what the average day looks like has brought significant challenges to many, it has also helped bring to the surface something that is true for almost every employee: work is not the most important part of the average employee’s life.

We have families to take care of, appointments to attend, emergencies that come up—and these things are important to take care of and necessary to address. I believe that companies that can’t understand this truth will be left behind.

With conversations about flexibility also comes the question everyone is asking these days: “What about remote work?

I think it’s important that companies find a way to make remote work a possibility for all employees. I’m not suggesting that all companies go 100% remote, although some companies have gone that route. What I am suggesting is that your organization makes remote work possible with the necessary tools so that employees know they can still perform at their best if they find themselves away from the office.

It’s time that companies trust their employees to perform at their top level whether they are in their cubicles or at home, inside or outside of regular work hours.

3. Equip Your Team with the Right Tools and Technology

Technology is always changing and improving, and it’s happening at a rapid rate. If your company has been using the same software and tools for the last five years, it may be time to investigate something new. Keeping your company’s technology on the cutting edge is an important part of retaining employees.

Making technology upgrades is a big decision for a business; making a change can be costly and time-consuming when it comes to training, and you may initially lose productivity as your employees face a new learning curve.

But, when an employee is constantly working with a system that requires ten steps to complete a task—when there is now a tool that streamlines those ten to two—employees get frustrated.

Plus, being on the cutting edge of technology signals to employees that the company they work for has plans for continued growth and that they desire to be a top competitor in their market. Employees want to be with companies that want to be at their best. If they sense you are dragging your feet, they may be looking for a better option.

4. Recognize Great Work

Finally—and I think this goes without saying—everyone loves to hear that they’ve done a good job.

If your organization doesn’t have some sort of system that encourages employee recognition, then you need to implement something very soon—whether it’s through a group chat, creating time to give kudos at your weekly meetings, or pulling a team member aside to personally congratulate them on a job well done.

Recognizing great work doesn’t mean coddling your employees. Most top employees still value constructive criticism as an important part of individual and corporate growth. But for employers, it’s important to recognize the team’s efforts when appropriate.

Get Help with Retaining Your Employees

At the end of the day, employees want to feel wanted, valued and trusted by the company they work for in ways that go beyond just compensation. Meeting that need is key to retaining your team.

Part of providing the comfort employees are looking for comes with implementing retention strategies and practices like these that foster a relationship between employer and employee, gives the employee independence and allows them to work at their best.

If your business needs assistance with staffing and recruiting, technology or employee relations, connect with a Warren Averett advisor who can help.

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