Articles & Insights

WT in the Press: How to stop your staff exodus

Added - 21/07/2021

Author: Lynne Hardman
Publication: Management Today

Conventional approaches to retention may be insufficient during the 'Great Resignation'.

As the world starts to reopen, employers and employees are beginning to explore the options available to them, and this means change is everywhere. We’re becoming more comfortable with it - 60% of UK workers are open to switching careers, an increase of seven percentage points since July 2020 (53%). This means many businesses could be facing a staff exodus unless they are actively working to ensure their existing employees are engaged and satisfied.

As the government has advised, we need to ‘learn to live with the virus.’ Businesses will need to take new approaches to the future - evaluating their skills gaps and growth requirements. There will be new and emerging roles arising, driven by changing motivations of employees and massive disruption in customer expectations. We’re moving into a time of opportunity, and the job market is expected to heat up.

More than ever before, employees are re-evaluating and questioning what “work” in this new world means to them. The reality is that the impact of furlough, possible or threatened job loss, salary reductions, and working - or even not working - from home will have made some people feel differently about their employer.

Add restructuring and altered career paths or progression opportunities for employees along with an increased level of poor mental health into the mix, and, unsurprisingly, employers face losing people who have built up critical skills and experience over many years.

The first step for organisations looking to support and retain their talent is to do the work to identify what motivates their employees and how, in the post-Covid era, that has changed. Without this insight, it will be challenging to understand how to adapt your approaches.

Once you know what drives your employees to stay or think about leaving, it’s much easier to align the solution to keep your talent engaged. Sometimes it can be as straightforward as offering a more hybrid approach to flexible working.

The first step in ensuring engagement is remembering that your team members are people, and they need to feel that you care about them as an individual and that they understand ‘what’s in it for them.’ They don’t want to be seen as a ‘headcount’ but as a human.

Critical to the everyday experience at work is your relationship with your manager and how you feel you are valued by them. Line Managers often struggle with communicating – particularly when it comes to sensitive subjects that require a coaching-based approach. It is worth investing in upskilling your managers to improve coaching skills as it’s the best way to make conversations feel personal.

In some cases, employers are facing significant skills gaps. At the same time, Covid has left many people feeling that their careers have been on hold for the last 18 months. Offering practical learning opportunities can be a simple and effective way to address retention, engagement and skills gaps within the business. In about 75% of cases, it pays for an organisation to reskill or upskill an employee rather than look to hire in.

Ultimately there is no single solution to retention; people leave organisations for many different reasons, some of them entirely personal, subjective and occasionally emotional. Employers must focus on creating a positive and clear post-Covid narrative that creates belief and excitement in the opportunities for future career success, tunes in to the things that really matter to people and ensures that leadership skills, especially their coaching skills, are good enough to meet the challenges of the new world of work.

After the workplace paradigm shift of the last year or so it’s time to focus on re-setting the psychological contract, recognising that people may have increased opportunity to leave, whilst creating the coaching culture and employee value proposition that ensures they are highly motivated to stay.

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