How Can You Improve Employee Retention During the Great Resignation?

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

Call it the Big Quit, the Worker Reshuffle, or the Great Reset, we are in the middle of a seismic change in the workforce that’s giving employers ample reasons to be anxious. More than 4 million Americans quit their jobs every month in the last half of 2021, a record-setting walkout rate, with additional waves of massive voluntary turnover expected for the months to come. If you’re an employer, the question is clear: How can you improve employee retention during the Great Resignation?


The Impact of Turnover

McKinsey reports that 64 percent of employers expect attrition will continue at its current pace or worsen over the next six months. Losing staff reverberates across your business in far-reaching ways.


Churn Is Expensive

Replacing an employee costs about 6-9 months of that worker’s annual salary, according to SHRM, and could be as high as 200 percent of an executive’s salary.


Turnover Kills Productivity

It’s easy for a worker to give two weeks’ notice, but it will take you much longer than that to find a replacement. The conventional wisdom is that it takes up to eight months for a new hire to hit their stride and reach full productivity. In a poll of executives, ExecOnline found that the biggest challenge for 52 percent of business leaders is managing workload with smaller teams. Keeping your talent in-house keeps your workflow on track.


Quitting Is Contagious

When one employee leaves, the remaining team starts to take stock. LinkedIn found that nearly 60 percent of employees considered quitting when a colleague departed.


Male employee wearing glasses shaking hands with their manager.

Strategies to Motivate Employees to Stick Around

The Great Resignation can be a great opportunity for you to build a robust plan for employee retention, focusing on workers’ career growth, expansion of employee skills, and the benefits employees need most in the post-pandemic future.


Pay for Your Employees’ Loyalty

This is the year to update your compensation package. Despite stiff competition for employees, average compensation increased only 4 percent in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you can’t give across-the-board raises, consider loyalty bonuses, work-from-home stipends, student loan pay-downs, or tuition subsidies.


Elevate Engagement

Relationships matter. If you have a mostly remote workforce, you’ll have to put in the effort to build and maintain a congenial corporate culture. Start with your relationship to your direct reports. Ask them what you could do better to support them, and then follow through on their upward feedback.


Have you thought about creating a culture committee or a Joy Division? Keep company morale high with Slack scavenger hunts, trivia games, and birthday parties – whatever your happiness team thinks would work to keep employees connected to each other and to the company.


Align Your Business Values to Your Employees’ Values

People who work in a mission-driven environment are less likely to quit, but only if they see the connection between their everyday work and the company’s larger purpose. Ask employees for feedback on your organization’s goals and mission statement, then rewrite job descriptions, tasks, and individual goals to align with what they tell you is most important.


Be on the Lookout for Burnout

Prioritize the mental health of your employees. It’s not enough to remind them that counseling is available through your benefits package. Set aside time for meditation, wellness, or therapy sessions as part of your team’s workflow.


Maintaining a work-life balance should be non-negotiable, so consider requiring team members to set their away notification every day during their lunch hour, take a mental health day once a quarter, or reduce meeting times to a mandatory 25 minutes, with a friendly reminder at the sign-off to enjoy a five-minute break.


Initiate the Stay Interview

Don’t wait for employees to leave before you find out why they’re disgruntled in their exit interview. Seek their input while they’re still on staff and use the information from their stay interview to address their concerns, guide your decisions, and build rapport.


Be Open to the Hybrid Model

Employee retention could hinge on you having a clear understanding of what drives your team. Nothing is more important to some employees than the location of their workday. Provide flexible options for on-site and at-home workdays, so when possible, they can complete their tasks where they want and when they want.


Female manager sitting a her desk working on strategies to improve employee retention.

Audit Your Benefits Packages and Perks

Make sure what you’re offering your current employees is still what they need. Lives have changed in the last two years. Acknowledge this by polling your staff to gauge their preferences. Subsidizing daycare or days off for volunteering? Unlimited PTO or more health care options? Not every preference can be implemented, but it’s smart to get the pulse of your people long before they start jumping ship. Sometimes a small tweak – creating a dog-friendly workplace or providing transportation vouchers – can tip the scales in your favor.


Promote the “Mostly” Qualified

If a current employee has 75 percent of the qualifications for an open role, promote them. Provide professional development courses for the skills they lack. Employees who are recognized for their contributions and potential – who feel respected – are 32 percent less likely to quit. You’ll improve employee retention, too, when you prioritize inclusion and equity by elevating high-performing staffers without regard to race, gender, age, or disability.


Pay for Certification and Training Courses

The Great Resignation requires meeting your employees at their place of need. Top of mind for many is training for the future of work. When your company pays for customized corporate training, it delivers the skills your employees need to prepare for the next phase of their careers and ensures your organization maintains a highly trained workforce today and in the future. USF Corporate Training and Professional Education offers an array of programs to give your team members the knowledge they need to excel and the engagement they need to stay.


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