What Will Encourage People to Stay?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the way people work, but it has also changed priorities when it comes to what people want from their work. At a recent Executive Breakfast Series event, Pat Hirst, Practice Lead Learning & Development at People First HR, led a discussion on the phenomenon known as The Great Resignation with the HR professionals in attendance.

Results from a survey completed prior to the event showed better work-life balance, the freedom to work from home or the office or a mix of both, burnout/exhaustion, bad workplace culture, and the desire to chase a passion are all reasons people are giving when it comes to a decision about whether to stay in their job or to move on.

This phenomenon in employee behaviour has become known as the great resignation and is affecting employment rates and companies around the world. The US and UK are seeing record high resignations, and while the trend is not as high here, Canadian companies are also experiencing changes in retention.

“In a recent People First HR survey, 62% of respondents said their companies are seeing higher resignation rates,” says Hirst.

So, what would encourage people to stay?

Culture: Many studies have shown that the thing people care about most is how companies treat their employees, which is measured by multiple metrics including wages, benefits and security, opportunities for advancement, safety and commitment to equity. When looking at going back to the office, it was suggested there is going to be a shift toward a more agile work environment. Organizations that are more willing to shift to a hybrid work environment also see stronger retention rates.

“Organizations that have been successful at retaining their employees have engaged in practices including socially distanced get-togethers to create community, inviting staff to run their own workshops for co-workers, like painting or other hobbies and interests. Finally providing flexible working arrangements, such as hybrid, work from home, flexible work hours has given employees the ability to make choices that accommodate their circumstances and make it easier to stay,” says Hirst.

Health and Wellbeing: This has been a major focus for organizations in the past 18 months, and it will continue to be relevant long after the pandemic is over. Whether it’s in-house or you turn to external sources, communicating with employees about their benefits, where they can find the resources they need and to navigate through all the information is an important part of retaining employees. Many organizations are shifting toward relaxing or even eliminating eligibility requirements for accessing benefits and the cost-sharing of benefits. They are also recognizing immediate needs for Employee Assistance Programs, Virtual Health solutions, and child/eldercare support.

Communication: Organizations that have a culture of open, transparent communication is a key factor in keeping employees. Not only does good communication boost employee engagement it also creates an environment where employees feel their voices are being heard.

The Great Resignation is likely to bring about meaningful, long-term change to workplace culture and the way companies invest in their employees.

Experts say this change was happening before the pandemic, but now there is a significant increase in what people are looking for in terms of their expectations of CEOs and companies. Organizations need to be focused on their employees’ wages, opportunities, and overall wellbeing or risk falling even further behind.


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