How To Prevent A “Great Resignation” Wave 2 — Employee Retention
In the last article shared by Torre Vision, we attempted to dive into the true reasons why people decided to leave their regular jobs during the pandemic to such an extent that resignations scored an all-time high. Today, in this article we will talk about uncommon means employers can and should use to ensure that they keep their talents, especially the ones aged between 25 and 45 years old who caused the so called “Great Resignation”.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Before dealing with a problem, we need to shift the mindset and not immediately jump to conclusions and assumptions based on historical data. Historical data can often help us to prepare ourselves for potential future situations, but it cannot always function as a basis for building solutions to today’s problems. Each situation occurs under certain circumstances, and to deal with it, we need to explore these circumstances and try to find ways to prevent them from occurring again. For example, pay (salary in general) has functioned as a useful means of retaining employees in the past. And it still can act as such. However, that does not mean that it is the solution to everything related to retention (keeping people/employees from leaving).
Today, people connect to a job and employer in many different ways. They connect through the mission and vision of an employer; They connect through the actions of an employer that may affect the lives of other people; They connect to the opportunities an employer can offer to help them build a fulfilling life.
With that said, having analyzed in the previous article the reasons people “rallied” to resign over 2020 and 2021, employers could focus on the below three action points to ensure that their talents will not leave them in the future. Of course, accounting here for healthy attrition as well.
Build a Value-Based Compensation Strategy
It is not an easy discussion to start with. Especially as it is a new term for employers and maybe not as much favorable as the existing compensation strategy (pay for hours) in the short-term. It also requires a cultural change. Because we are used to signing contracts based on working hours, we always focus on the number of tasks we need to complete to deliver something. If we finish it on time, it is good for us and the employer. If we don’t, we either stay longer (most often unpaid) and lead ourselves into stressful situations or an unbalanced work-life while at the same time causing dissatisfaction on the employer’s side. This is a model used for hundreds of years now and it has done its job well, truth be said. However, in our times, in 2022, people have discovered that the value they provide to an organization based on the skillset they have built over the years, can be used otherwise too. Otherwise, in such a way that instead of focusing on how many hours one works, they can create compensating opportunities for themselves based on the amount of value they actually offer. I said opportunities and not “opportunity” because most of the times, that value can be delivered to multiple “employers” (clients in this case) and therefore provide multiple income streams.
People did not decide to leave their jobs just because they were not getting paid well, but because the pandemic showed them that their value can actually have a broader audience and consequently produce more sources. This is not something that was easily possible in the past, but today it is. And for that reason, employers should not focus anymore on “old” solutions to “current” problems. Employers should start thinking about how to rebuild the compensation strategy in such a way that it actually offers these opportunities to the current generations. It is not an easy path, and it seems costly in the short term, but potentially it will provide greater value in the long term. For a start, they will adapt to what candidates are looking for. Secondly, having a value-based compensation strategy may lead to greater efficiencies and higher accountability. Last, the labor costs may decrease overall because higher efficiency means less “hands” needed and higher profitability incoming.
Invest in Job Crafting
Starting with the definition, Job Crafting is “an employee-initiated approach which enables employees to shape their own work environment such that it fits their individual needs by adjusting the prevailing job demands and resources” [Tims, M., & Bakker, A. B. (2010)].
People did not initiate the “Great Resignation” because their employer did not offer that long-waited promotion. People left their jobs because they struggled to realize the value they were adding to their jobs; They left because their job was not as meaningful as they expected it to be, and they could not actually change that. Or maybe they even left because they realized that even though they were working hard enough, they would wake up every morning and feel “not happy” to go to work. Maybe you recognize that too.
Therefore, to retain employees, employers need to focus on the true reasons that lead people to resign, and not into developing “cliché” generic development programs because that’s what will make them think that “we actually invest in our people”. To prevent any misunderstandings, development programs are key to retention and many employers do that right. They even support people through personal-related development programs, which is amazing and beyond any expectations. However, the point here is that before offering any development program just because everyone else offers them, employers should focus on what employees really appreciate.
What would make employees stick to their roles and employers is having the opportunity to craft their jobs (task, responsibilities, environment, etc) in ways that make them happy and their jobs unique. This too is maybe not easy to be perceived from an employer’s standpoint, because “we hire people for a certain task, why would we hire them to do what they want”, right? But the point of job crafting is not for an employee to do whatever they want, it actually is to let the employee do what they are hired for, but in ways that they find it efficient, meaningful, and valuable for themselves too. Bakker, A. B., Tims, M., & Derks, D. (2012) explain the model in detail as a representation below:
As you can see from the model, job crafting leads to higher engagement, performance, and dedication scores. By letting employees experiment with job crafting, you ensure they will stay with you, while at the same time you also ensure higher performance.
Social Responsibility & Flexibility
Two terms that probably everyone recognizes and highly likely has seen in job ads or company webpages under the “careers” section over the last decade.
It has been an amazing development over the last few years to see that more and more companies focus on the greater good and realize that flexibility is something valuable to employees. The pandemic travelled all of us through a rollercoaster of emotions and made us realize how important it is to spend time with our families, friends, ourselves, and our passions.
Now that we slowly will be getting back to the often “work from office” mindset, employers need to make sure that the flexibility employees had during the “work from home” era is not taken back. At least not in its full extent. It is easy to learn a new habit, but it is painful often times to forget that habit. Therefore, employers need to find ways to allow employees keep the same level of flexibility. The hybrid model (some days from home and some days from the office) is a step in the right direction. But we also need to realize that it is taking away a certain level of flexibility. In the same line with job crafting, people should be allowed to choose for themselves how they structure the hybrid model. Of course, based on clear guidelines that will ensure the functionality, performance, and efficiency of their team. If otherwise, we should not forget that the “work from home” era showed people that their work can be done from anywhere. Therefore, if we enter an era where such flexibility is not offered anymore, it is easy for everyone to make the decision and leave their “normal job” and start something “remotely” instead. Either through another employer or through their own platform and network and work on a project-based value providing basis.
In addition, we mentioned social responsibility at the beginning of this paragraph. While many companies do a lot on that aspect due to legislation-required terms, employers should focus on promoting these activities amongst their employees too. People want to feel that they do something good and work for a greater purpose. For example, just investing in reducing CO2 is not enough anymore. Employers should think of new ways to directly involve their employees in social responsibility related activities (helping care homes, spending time with dog shelter associations, etc.). Once upon a time, when J.F. Kennedy presidency was working on making it possible for humans to step on Moon on save humanity in the long-term, a house-cleaning individual at the White House, when asked outside of work: “what’s your profession?”, the answer was “I help people get to the Moon”. Why? Because that individual was working for someone who stated that his mission was to save humanity by putting humans on the Moon. That’s how strong, having an inspiring and socially responsible mission, is. It makes people feel proud and engage further with their job.
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Tims, M., & Bakker, A. B. (2010). Job crafting: Towards a new model of individual job redesign. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 36(2). https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v36i2.841
Bakker, A. B., Tims, M., & Derks, D. (2012). Proactive personality and job performance: The role of job crafting and work engagement. Human Relations, 65(10), 1359–1378. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726712453471