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I’ve seen two articles recently that indicate employees are preparing themselves for a job search.
LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index shared that 74% of employees are doing what they call “sheltering at work”. This was described as collecting a paycheck, enjoying the company benefits, and waiting out the pandemic. The implication is that once vaccines are more available and individuals have more freedoms, employees might start actively exploring new opportunities.
In an article on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website, several studies were cited pointing to the same dynamic – more than half of employees plan to look for a new job in 2021. The reasons that employees are considering a change include better compensation and benefits, more work/life balance, and less stress.
I know organizations are very focused on economic recovery right now. Totally makes sense. We can’t forget employee retention in the company’s economic recovery plans. The last thing the organization wants to do is start making plans to increase productivity only to find that they don’t have the workforce to support it. Here are a few things to include in your recovery plan that demonstrate your employee commitment.
Provide regular communications updates. It’s tempting to say, “Communicate more!” but the real message is “Communicate smarter!”. In early days of the pandemic, some companies went into full video conferencing mode and didn’t look back. I have nothing against video conferences, but we know that employees are burned out. They need information to do their work so figure out the best way to send it.
Make sure the company’s workforce plan is current. It’s unfortunate, but some organizations had to do layoffs over the past year. But as organizations begin their recovery, they will need to focus on employee retention and do some hiring. Don’t wait until the last moment to begin thinking about hiring plans. Don’t make the assumption that you can advertise a job opening and hundreds of people will apply.
Make safety a priority. Last year, Dan Schawbel published an article on The Workforce Institute at UKG blog titled “Why Employers That Prioritize Safety Will Win the Ware for Talent”. It’s still relevant today. I continue to hear stories from employees who are being pressured to return to work even though they don’t feel safe. I can’t imagine they plan to stay with those organizations long-term.
Develop a phased approach to having employees return to the office. As more individuals receive the vaccine, organizations will look for ways to bring people together. Totally makes sense. However, I don’t know that everyone needs to return on the same day. Or that employees need to stay all day. Organizations might want to let employees ease into the workplace routine, so they feel safe.
Differentiate between the “needs” and “wants” of the business. Mr. Bartender and I are starting to have conversations about the things we hope to do once we’re vaccinated. Like many people, we’re looking forward to dining out in a restaurant. Do I want to eat out now? Yes. Do I need to? No. As organizations start making decisions, identify the needs and wants. It could impact employee retention decisions.
Give managers support and training. Managers are the front-line for handling employee questions and requests. Before they say or do something that you would have preferred they not say or do, give them training and the tools to properly handle matters. Employees often leave jobs because of managers so make sure managers are well prepared for the changes ahead.
Thank employees for their patience and support. The past year has been tough. It’s possible that prior to the pandemic employees were having challenges as well – working short staffed and long hours. The next few months might be great – increased business, more mobility, etc. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be without challenges. Be sure to thank employees for being flexible and handling all of the changes.
Organizations that want to increase employee retention are going to want to communicate regularly, make employees feel safe and welcome, and give managers the tools to handle issues. Countless studies show the way to make employees stay with a company come down to making them feel wanted, giving them the tools to do the work, and thanking them for a job well done. Now is not the time to forget what it takes to keep employees engaged and connected to the company.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring Duval Street in Key West, FL21