As the entire world faces the struggles caused by the pandemic, almost every company is forced to come up with new retaining employees strategies to survive the crisis. Moreover, as employers have noticed the shift in motivational and aspirational factors, the need for employee retention has grown stronger. Consequently, to retain the best talent and ensure smooth implementation of innovative digital strategies, accelerating and adapting to new workforce needs is inevitable.
Since many people have had to work from home in one way or another, we’ve seen that not only does productivity not decrease, it often improves. However, training and engaging remote teams is challenging and doing it badly increases employee turnover rate. Since companies must fill vacated positions regularly, hiring and onboarding become time-consuming and costly for employers and recruiting managers. At the same time, leaving key positions vacant for too long can have severe consequences for any business.
Practical work from home models have helped thousands of companies to navigate through the pandemic. Understanding what the workforce has been experiencing during the past years is crucial in tackling the challenges better and will help introduce effective strategies for future disruptions.
The impact of COVID-19 on employee retention
A recent survey by IBM found that employees were broadly satisfied with how their companies supported their financial, physical, and mental well-being during the pandemic. However, only about one out of every five employees gave them exceptional grades in any category.
So, what factors can help a company gain recognition as outstanding? First, the COVID-19 crisis has shown who’s willing to support employee well-being, even if it affects profitability. Outperformers like Target, for example, extended its COVID-19 health benefits for employees to 2021. As a result, the company spent $1 billion more on employee health, safety, and wellness in 2020 than it did in 2019. Later, they reported high revenue growth leading up to and during 2020.
The same IBM survey found that although 80 percent of managers said their companies were supporting employees’ physical and emotional health, only 46 percent of employees agreed. Many have asked their employer for more flexible work arrangements and improved benefits, but only half of them give their bosses excellent grades for their ability to deliver on what matters most to them. Filling this gap will become essential for attracting and retaining talent soon, especially in the younger generations.
How can companies improve their tactics?
The pandemic has served as a stark reminder of the fragility of life. Therefore, leaders should keep in mind that everyone has gone through their share of trials and that demonstrating empathy and care for their employees’ well-being is essential.
Leaving a job is a difficult decision for anyone. But implementing the right retention strategies can help companies enter a remote world where employees feel their needs are met, removing an employee’s desire to move on. Below we offer five tactics that can make all the difference.
1. Build a smart onboarding process
Remote onboarding is not typical, so it’s hardly surprising that only 12 percent of people think their employers do a good job of onboarding. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the value of this process since it’s an excellent opportunity to bond with new hires. Failing to do so will result in employees looking for new opportunities right away. According to research, up to 20 percent of turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment.
While planning your virtual onboarding process, don’t forget about video meetings and online training sessions. Offer flexible work options, set virtual groups to introduce the team, and truly connect with the individual’s needs. To make this process more efficient and comfortable for new hires, you can share the onboarding schedule, appoint a welcome buddy, and start with easy tasks. If it’s possible, introduce a hybrid work model to help them get familiar with the new role. Finally, be completely transparent and invest in the quality of your program.
2. Offer flexibility
Hybrid work from home alternatives will be imperative since not everyone will feel comfortable going back to the office –assuming your company can still provide that option. In the new normal, working conditions are expected to be highly flexible, and companies that fail to adapt will most likely lose their talent. A recent survey stated that 55 percent of Americans will be looking for new job opportunities within the next 12 months. Moreover, 56 percent of respondents admitted that flexibility, or the lack of it, is the primary reason for quitting their current jobs.
Providing a flexible work place is a powerful tactic for retention; it helps employees feel motivated and productive while promoting a healthy work-life balance.
3. Create a healthy work environment
Honesty, trust, and integrity are some of the most crucial qualities employees appreciate in an organization. So, if you make promises, keep them, and ensure open communication while getting to know your team. In addition, a great way to promote a healthy environment is to ensure that the space you provide for employees is physically and mentally safe.
For example, in a hybrid work model, it’s crucial to know how comfortable workers feel at their desks and seats, so be ready to provide them with ergonomic furniture that can help them feel valued and happy. Mental health also needs to be addressed, so, if possible, draw up programs that will be useful to employees based on their needs.
When companies take care of their employees and promote a healthy climate in the workspace, retention rates increase and the workforce becomes more proactive, loyal, and productive.
4. Prioritize learning and development
Rapid changes are happening as many companies undergo a digital transformation. As a result, learning and development have become crucial for any organization. So, it’s not surprising that 94 percent of employees agree that they would stay longer if a company invested in their professional development. Especially in a hybrid work model, employees need to engage and feel confident about their tasks and the future opportunities they can take within the organization. Provide them with a clear path for their professional growth, that way, as they realize the importance of their role in the company, they’ll be sure to remain on board.
5. Ask for feedback and act quickly
Did you know that when employees feel heard they’re 4.6 times more likely to perform better? So, allowing for continuous feedback can go a long way. As you make it a standard practice, more positive outcomes can be obtained. In a hybrid work model, taking immediate action can make all the difference. Remote workers not only want to be heard; they also want answers. Offer modern tools to help them solve their issues, listen, and act upon their needs.
How to keep up with the post-pandemic workplace
Finally, leaders should focus on the following actions to adjust their strategy to the new normal:
- Reflect on the company’s achievements and failures during the past months, ponder on what has worked and how you can improve
- Recommit to the well-being of the workforce, whether working from home or in the office
- Re-engage with employees, recognize their potential and contributions
- Rethink the future of work and act now to thrive in the future
- Reboot HR functions and take a human focus on all your operations
Although employee retention in the remote world is a significant challenge, any organization can make profitable changes by offering hybrid work model options and providing flexible employment terms to boost employee satisfaction and productivity.