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3 Antidotes to the Great Resignation or How to Retain Employees

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Published:
August 22, 2022
Reading Time:
9 minutes
Leo
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

First, let’s start with some statistics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report in which 47 million Americans are said to have quit their jobs. Remember, they ‘quit’ their jobs—voluntarily. They were not fired or laid off, they decided to leave. In Europe, a LinkedIn survey of nine thousand professionals found that 58% are considering changing their jobs. That’s an astonishing number of unsatisfied staff members in the western world, so companies need to try harder in order to retain employees.

If you truly want to learn about these matters from an employee’s perspective, look up the hashtag #TheGreatResignation on Twitter. “I quit my state job a month and a half ago, and I haven’t been this happy, inspired, energetic or hopeful in years,” one Twitter user writes. “You don't have to put up with the toxicity because trust me, they'll replace you in a heartbeat if something happens to you. So put yourself first, put your mental health first and leave that no good job,” another user writes.

Companies have never faced such a challenge in the history of mankind. For the first time ever, the tables have turned and employees seem to have more power over their careers than employers. So, how can employers retain employees and motivate potentially short-term staff to become long-term employees? Let’s dig deeper, collect some more data and anecdotal experiences of people, and find out.

Antidote #1: Give Employees a Sense of Purpose

According to a survey by McKinsey, more than 70% of staff felt like their sense of purpose is dictated by work. This doesn’t come as a surprise, but people don’t believe things like these unless they are backed by statistics.

Back in the day, it was very normal for people to be long-term employees in one company and then retire. Their purpose, for the most part, was to earn a living so that they could provide for their family. Raising a family was the biggest purpose for a vast majority of people just a few decades ago—not anymore, though.

These days, employees, especially the younger generations like millennials and Gen Z, want more than just a paycheck. They want to be a part of something bigger, and they refuse to stay stuck in a monotonous job for 30 years. So, how can you help employees find a sense of purpose at work? Here are some quick ideas for you to elaborate on.

  • Focus on employees’ personal growth:

    In order to retain employees for the long term, you should not just give them a salary but also non-financial remuneration like skills, professional networks, travel opportunities, and more.
  • Create career growth opportunities:

    Most employees don’t want to stay in the same position forever. To retain employees and make them feel like they’re working towards a purpose, promotion is key. Promote them, or else they could go to another company that offers a higher position.
  • Mentor them:

    Employees who don’t find purpose in their jobs can be guided on the right track by an experienced mentor. On the other hand, a talented but purposeless employee who doesn’t get any guidance from a mentor will be hard to retain.
  • Enlighten them about the impact they’re making:

    Did an employee’s marketing strategy bring a thousand new customers? Let them know. Did someone’s conflict resolution skills save a project? Let them know. If you want to retain employees, make them feel valued and let them know how much they have contributed to the company’s growth.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Great Resignation is an unprecedented event that started during the pandemic, in which millions of employees in the western world voluntarily quit their jobs.
  • The reasons behind resignation that many employees cited include job insecurity, low pay, and mental health.
  • Employers should give staff a sense of purpose, help them grow in their personal lives, mentor them, and create growth opportunities within the organization.
  • In order to retain employees, creating a strong sense of community at work could be a game changer because employees are more likely to stay in a space where they feel more included.
  • A high salary along with a safe workplace is an important part of securing long-term employees.

Antidote #2: Make Employees Feel Like They Belong

“I like spending 40 hours a week in a place where I don’t belong,” said no employee ever. Gather all your long-term employees in a meeting room and ask them if they feel a sense of belonging. It’s highly likely that 100% of employees will say yes. Also, did you know that employees who feel like they belong to a workplace take 75% fewer sick leaves? Let’s discuss some ways to bring employees closer at work.

  • Incorporate diversity training:

    Creating a diverse workplace is easier said than done. That’s why implementing diversity training can help you retain employees from different backgrounds for the long term. People who feel included stay longer with a company, and the rest find a place where diversity is truly respected.
  • Organize team-building exercises (with voluntary participation):

    Team-building exercises are great to bring the staff closer. However, forcing people to join, especially shy newbies, or introverts, may have the opposite effect than the one that is intended. So, participation must be voluntary, and staff who don't join must not be ostracized for that.
  • Create a non-judgmental workplace:

    In this day and age, you could have a vegan working next to a carnivore, a religious person sitting next to a non-religious one, or someone on a temporary work visa working alongside a sixth-generation local resident. No employee should be judged for their lifestyle choices, identity, or personal beliefs (as long as it’s not something illegal).

Apart from this, you should create a culture where mistakes are looked at as a stepping stone, and not something that requires disciplinary action. Because creating a culture of fear is a surefire way to lose even the most loyal and long-term employees.

Antidote #3: Pay Employees What They Deserve

Let’s face it, and let’s be completely honest here. People may talk about how passionate they are about their line of work or how they want a sense of purpose. However, the main motivation behind going to work is, of course, money. According to scientific research by the National Library of Medicine, a low household income is directly related to severe mental health problems.

retain employees, 3 Antidotes to the Great Resignation or How to Retain Employees

Not saying that money fixes everything, or that you could pay a high salary to retain employees but then treat them badly and get away with it. However, a handsome salary along with a safe work environment and inclusive culture is what it will take in today’s world to turn new recruits into long-term employees. You could hire HR agencies and come up with new policies and procedures now and then to retain employees, but all you really need are these three things: a safe workplace, inclusive culture, and a salary that allows employees to live a dignified life.

One great example, in this case, is Dan Price—a CEO who pays a minimum salary of $80,000 to all his employees. "Most people live paycheck to paycheck. So how come I need 10 years of living expenses, and you don't?" he said. The result of this: happier employees (who bought their own homes, and whose financial value went 10X), less absenteeism, higher staff retention, and most importantly, a tripled revenue for the company. You see, when companies pay the right salary, everyone is happy—including the CEO who takes a pay cut.

Conclusion

Creating hundreds of strategies to retain employees could be a waste of time if you don’t understand the very basic nature of humans. Most people want financial safety and a comfortable life. If they don’t get it from one employer, they’ll look for another employer who can offer that. But, as an employer, you should know that simply throwing a few thousand extra dollars in your employees’ faces and making them stay in a toxic environment wouldn’t work either. In a workplace, inclusivity, safety, and a sense of belonging are as important as money.

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