THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS POST
- As a result of the pandemic, many employees are considering career moves at considerably higher rates than in the past
- Employers should consider expanding benefits in creative ways to attract and retain employees.
- Diversity, inclusion and social responsibility are important not just for business advancements, but also retaining employees
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted essentially every industry. It has changed the ways in which employers not only operate and conduct their business, but also the demands they place upon their workforce. This translates into employees who are feeling the stress and strain of the situation.
This past October, CBS News reported a number that should concern employers: Pandemic concerns had one in four employees (or 25% of the workforce) thinking of quitting their current job. The poll, conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, also revealed that seven out of 10 workers cited juggling their jobs and other responsibilities as a source of stress.
Fortunately, that same poll found that 57% of workers say their employer was doing “about the right amount” in responding to the pandemic, while only 18% say their employer was falling short. However, the message is clear: Dedication to companies is dwindling. More workers (both employed and unemployed) are seeking new opportunities if not changing careers entirely. Remote work and flexible scheduling have some expanding their search beyond their hometown, resulting in a new talent landscape for employers and potential employees.
Explore how to attract and retain your most valuable resource – your people – with these strategies.
BETTER BENEFITS = HAPPIER EMPLOYEES
With many employers seeing remote work as a staple of ongoing business, giving employees the option to continue doing so will likely not be enough to retain them. Offering expanded or revised benefits to address current concerns is critical to employee retention. Other offerings employers have found success with is addressing mental health concerns by offering expanded, free or reduced cost counseling/telehealth and childcare services and continuing flexible work schedules.
With so many employees working remotely and others unable to utilize their paid time off (PTO), many companies have provided employees the ability to roll over these days into the new year. Other examples include employer-provided help with childcare/benefits for working parents like tutoring services, tuition grants, home office stipends and expanded ongoing flexible schedules with rotating teams (where some work in the office while others do so remotely on a rotation).
Fast-casual restaurant chain Noodles and Co. expanded its “Life At Noodles” program this past fall to offer virtual counseling, debuting mental health awareness live webinars. This is in addition to providing free flu shot access, weight loss program assistance, free dental services for employees’ children age 14 or younger, and 10 days of back-up child, elder or pet care to assistance with unexpected situations.
While not every company may be able to provide this level of employee service, the actions beg a pointed question: What is going to cost more – investing in the employees you have or spending time, money and energy to try to replace them?
TREAT EMPLOYEE CONCERNS AS AN OPPORTUNITY, NOT A BURDEN
In addition to COVID-19 concerns, the past year has revealed another reason people are leaving their employers – lack of leadership and concerns for social responsibility. Some employees left companies over concerns about their leadership’s management of the crisis, while others have concerns over safety. A recent survey found that 68% of U.S. employees have left their jobs after feeling “mistreated” by their employer last summer.
Additionally, both consumers and employees have started taking notice of corporate America’s response to social issues in the wake of the controversial deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd among others. The Harvard Business Review noted the importance of focusing on both inclusion and diversity in Dec. 2018, writing “To retain talent, most organizations offer the typical things: Free coffee and tea in the break room, competitive benefits, generous raises and bonuses, and employee recognition programs. But none of that works for an employee who doesn’t feel comfortable in his or her work environment.”
The benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace to companies’ bottom line are well-documented. With more people looking to work for employers that showcase social responsibility, diversity and inclusion will be must-haves moving forward.
Proactive companies will construct policies promoting diversity and inclusion head-on before not doing so becomes problematic. Such policies need to be orchestrated, deliberate and strategic in not just training, but recruitment, implementation and practice. Otherwise, companies should get used to losing talent that values working for an employer who shares their beliefs.
TRANSPARENCY IS THE KEY
Be it in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, compensation, addressing employee concerns of discrepancies between management and employees, transparency is the key. It’s easy to be transparent when things are great. However, to foster a culture where employees know what management is telling them is true when things get rough prevents isolation and distrust in the workplace.
People leave jobs. That is a fact of life. But if you are regularly surveying employees, you will gain invaluable insight as to why they are leaving and what your company can do to address things that might lead to your best talent from following others out the door.