The Great Resignation has been something to behold, hasn’t it? Every industry is affected, from fast food to emergency rooms and absolutely everything in between. It seems as if no one is properly staffed these days. Where did all the workers go? More important for businesses of all sizes, how do you keep your top talent from joining the mass exodus in 2022?
To say employees have the upper hand in the power dynamic with companies and corporations would be a drastic understatement. This dynamic extends far beyond wage increases and signing bonuses. People expect (and deserve) to work for companies that put them first. The businesses that woo (and keep wooing) workers will be the ones who benefit from an engaged roster of high-performing employees. The ones that don’t will wither and die like so many sluggish contemporaries before them.
So what are the best practices for retaining invaluable employees during 2022 and beyond? Here are a few considerations to ponder:
1. Create unionism and safe spaces for humanism.
We’re all in this together. Easy enough to say, right? Do your team members feel like they’re valuable pieces of the overall puzzle, or do they feel isolated? Compassion is instrumental when leading a group of disparate individuals, especially in difficult times. Appreciate each person’s unique contributions to the whole and go out of your way to celebrate them. You may be surprised at how far a little recognition can go.
“It’s easy to generalize about your staff or team members. But sharing the real stories of Kim in accounting or Lamar in sales personalizes them and humanizes you, their leader,” says Kristen Sieffert, president at Finance of America Reverse, which is a lending provider that focuses on providing education and lending services to encourage individuals to plan for retirement. “Try not to talk in the abstract. Use personal stories, and you’ll connect better.”
2. Normalize employee recognition.
Year-end accolades and superlatives are great, but employees these days need more frequent recognition to remind them how valuable they are. The goal isn’t placating people with pats on the back for marginal accomplishments; instead, leaders should be acknowledging people’s usefulness in the spirit of boosting morale and improving productivity.
Wanting to be recognized for achievements is a basic human emotion. As a child, didn’t you want your teachers and parents to congratulate you on a job well done? It’s no different as we grow into professional adults. If you make consistent, genuine recognition a companywide initiative, the culture will thrive and folks will be less inclined to leave for more appreciation at a competitor.
3. Improve internal communication.
Overcommunication became a standard business practice in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, and the most successful companies have continued that approach. When employees feel seen and included, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to the company. To that end, endeavor to keep a constant conversation going with your workforce. Ask for feedback and advice on company goals and visions for the future. This encourages individuals to be more invested in their careers because they see themselves as part of the bigger picture. Tie their personal advancement to that of the overall business.
4. Be open to hybrid work environments.
When the pandemic descended, millions of people wondered how they’d be able to perform their jobs from home. It didn’t take long to learn that it was more than possible; it was (and remains) preferred. The flexibility to say when and where an employee completes their tasks is no longer a negotiable perk — it’s the reality of employment for the foreseeable future. If you’re still stuck in a you-must-be-at-your-office-desk-five-days-a-week mindset, you better adapt immediately. Top talent won’t accept such a rigid situation. Give people the flexibility to choose where they’re most productive. They’ll reward you with their loyalty.