Just a few months into 2022, it has become clear that many of the temporary changes that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic are now a permanent part of the workplace. Remote work has become a more widely accepted practice. For some companies, remote or hybrid work models will be the new normal indefinitely. This large amount of change has resulted in greater job mobility and career opportunities for many employees, a situation that now requires companies to adapt to changing needs in order to retain top talent.
To hire quality candidates and retain existing employees, companies have started to upgrade their benefits offerings and include perks like flexible work arrangements or support for child care services. Nearly 3/4 of employers polled in a recent Willis Towers Watson survey responded that they are having difficulty attracting new talent. This represents a 300% increase when compared to 2020 and indicates just how challenging this job market has become for businesses.
In this post, we’ve compiled 25 expert tips for driving employee retention in a post-pandemic world. You’ll find recommendations that touch on key topics like benefits, recruiting, workplace design, and company culture. There may be no single solution for the challenge of employee retention, but creating a culture of empathy and prioritizing the needs of employees are certainly major themes to consider. Read on for expert tips focused on:
- Employee Compensation and Benefits
- Employee Performance and Development
- Recruiting, Hiring, and Onboarding
- Workplace Design and Culture
Employee Compensation and Benefits
1. Explore intangible employee benefits. We are used to tangible benefits such as medical coverage and stock options, but there are often many intangible benefits that employees appreciate. For example, an employee may be interested in gaining more job flexibility for a slight reduction in pay. Exploring these intangible benefits by collecting employee feedback can help you understand how to make your company even more appealing to top talent.
2. Prioritize wellness initiatives. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded everyone of the importance that health and wellness play in our lives. As you develop your benefits, think about health-related items like gym reimbursement and nutrition counseling. It may also be helpful to extend additional benefits for mental health services as the pandemic has increased stress for many people.
3. Consider offering a retention bonus. Some organizations are addressing the retention challenges by offering unique and innovative employee benefits. One example is retention bonuses, which give workers a specific set of incentives to stay beyond traditional tools like stock options. Companies can test the best ideas to find solutions that really resonate with employees and add value over the long term.
4. Customize benefits based on individual needs. Each employee will have unique needs, and it’s impossible to create a single compensation and benefits package that will be perfect for everyone. Your benefits program should offer a variety of options that cater to a wide range of needs. Employees will appreciate a centralized and intuitive platform that allows them to select benefits that work best for them.
5. Review childcare and senior care benefits. People often talk about maintaining a work-life balance, and for good reason—most of us have family members to care for during different stages of life. Benefits programs that offer support for childcare and senior care services can be a major draw for employees. Some companies also go further and offer on-site childcare facilities or expanded programs for caregivers and other family needs.
6. Offer a market-based compensation structure. When the job market for workers is competitive, employees have more leverage and expect to be paid a competitive wage. Adopting a market-based compensation structure ensures that you are offering salaries that are fair and expected. It’s also important to maintain the salaries of existing employees at a level that helps prevent them from seeking higher-paying opportunities elsewhere.
Employee Performance and Development
7. Leverage employee performance software and data. Performance management software has become an important resource for HR and leadership teams worldwide. It helps to have all of your important employee data in a single location, and you can use the software tools to create development plans for individual employees. This is also an excellent place to store exit interview feedback and other data that can help your team make improvements.
8. Provide ample opportunities for employee collaboration & development. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are no longer looking to simply climb from position to position within a company. They are seeking personal growth and desire to participate in development programs that teach them tangible new skills. Employers can take advantage of this trend by creating development opportunities that offer fun and engaging experiences. Without the physical office, collaboration has also been hindered by the pandemic – which can negatively impact productivity, engagement, and the employee experience. Leaders must ensure that employees are able to regularly connect with their core teams, managers, and colleagues across the organization both formally and informally.
9. Invest time to develop employee skills. Companies that help their employees develop skills often have greater success redeploying talent and promoting from within. Having a talent pool with a diverse skill set also helps when pivoting to a new market or developing new revenue streams. In addition to formal development programs, also consider tuition reimbursement and other related benefits.
10. Lookout for signs of employee burnout. Workplace data shows that over three-quarters of U.S. workers are experiencing burnout in the workplace. This represents a serious situation and one that warrants attention from company leadership. We’ve already mentioned several ideas for addressing employee health and wellness, but don’t forget to schedule regular check-ins to see how people are doing.
11. Engage directly with your top performers. Businesses that identify top performers can then leverage these relationships and do more to develop and retain these talented professionals. Management teams can hold 360-degree talent reviews to identify up-and-coming talent and discuss development opportunities across the organization. Attention should also be placed on succession planning and how to involve your top talent in the process.
12. Create fellowship and paid internship opportunities. Many companies underestimate the extensive employee network that they already have. It’s possible to create fellowships and paid internships that build new skills while engaging existing and prospective employees. A business can also consider hiring retired workers to provide mentorship opportunities, especially in areas that require specific technical skills.
13. Start a retention dialogue with staff. Retention can feel like an ultra-sensitive topic, and this can prevent companies from opening up a transparent dialogue with employees. Yet talking directly with staff about retention can help build a deeper connection and also identify new employee retention priorities. Failing to speak candidly with employees about their needs is yet another reason why many employees choose to seek outside opportunities.
14. Demonstrate empathy for employees. We all desire to be recognized for our unique strengths and expect to be treated respectfully. People may be working much harder than you realize, and it can be a costly mistake to take people for granted. One simple way to show employees that you care is simply telling them and having a dialogue about new benefits and development opportunities that may be a good fit.
Recruiting, Hiring, and Onboarding
15. Create a strong onboarding process. The onboarding process is a critical step in employee development and the first opportunity for a new hire to see how things actually work within the company. Structure the onboarding process so it includes productive time with important departments and includes social time for introductions and casual discussion. It can also be helpful to assign a point person for each new hire who can act as a mentor and be available to check in and answer questions.
16. Accelerate the hiring process. The desire for talent is very competitive today, and it’s crucial to have an efficient hiring process. Spending too much time waiting for approvals or meetings can result in candidates moving on to other job opportunities—and a missed opportunity for your business. Some companies also require tests to be performed prior to a formal interview process. It’s a good idea to evaluate tests and determine how much value they offer and whether they impact the quality of candidates hired. Eliminating these can save time if they’re not adding value to your hiring process.
17. Launch a formal mentorship program. Mentorship programs can add significant value to an onboarding process by helping new employees navigate the workplace. This is also a great opportunity for the mentors themselves who will be challenged to answer questions and share knowledge. You can also provide mentors to existing staff in challenging situations or any employee who wants to upskill or advance.
18. Learn the real reasons why employees are leaving. When discussing the topic of retention with company leadership, it’s often helpful to challenge your underlying assumptions. Even with significant effort, you may still be missing some of the most common reasons why employees are leaving your organization. There is often a disconnect between what a company believes to be the causes of retention issues and what employees actually think.
19. Share accurate job descriptions. All employers want to hire the absolute best talent for each position they are seeking to fill. This can cause some companies to pad job descriptions with many “nice-to-have” requirements while losing focus on the most critical points. It’s best to write realistic job descriptions that can present a job clearly while also getting a prospective candidate interested in what you have to offer.
Workplace Design and Culture
20. Strengthen your organization’s purpose. Your organization’s purpose can be a powerful tool for employee retention if you create a compelling vision. The mission, vision, and values that you define are a reference point for every single employee in your company. It’s important to understand and articulate exactly how your business is making a positive impact in the world.
21. Be mindful of employee connectivity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, employees tended to spend more time engaging with coworkers with who they needed to collaborate to perform their job duties. This has led to weaker connections among extended networks. To counter this without the benefits of a physical office like pre-pandemic, it may be helpful to encourage and host more employee social opportunities when appropriate. A lack of strong employee connections can lead to decreased performance and innovation over time.
22. Provide remote or hybrid workplaces. Workplace models that support remote work have become a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies often choose between a fully-remote or hybrid setup that offers a good amount of flexibility to employees. Since many employees now enjoy remote work arrangements, companies gain valuable insights by collecting feedback before making any drastic changes to company policies.
23. Improve incentive and recognition programs. Incentive and recognition programs are an excellent tool for employee retention and can really help make the workplace more engaging. In today’s remote and hybrid work environments, these forms of appreciation are even more important. Your programs should align closely with your overall company purpose and reinforce behaviors that the company values.
24. Implement workplace technology carefully. Technology is a major part of daily work for most employees, yet it can also pose many challenges. Switching between systems and virtual meetings can be exhausting and requires careful attention to eye health and ergonomics. Offering personalized digital experiences for employees and carefully managing training and technology rollouts can have a significant impact on employee retention.
25. Foster a culture of peer-to-peer recognition. Most employees expect and appreciate being recognized by company leadership. This is no surprise, but you can also promote teamwork by offering a peer-to-peer recognition program. A culture that encourages employees to recognize each other not only strengthens connections but can also increase job satisfaction.
Retaining employees can be a difficult challenge as market dynamics change rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic. With some extra effort and a careful review of employee behaviors and preferences, you can strengthen your team and help prevent your talent from leaving for other opportunities. The tips shared above have proven successful among these industry experts and can help you develop an effective employee retention strategy.