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How to retain top talent during the Great Resignation

The pandemic changed peoples’ lives, and their work needs to adapt to them, not the other way around. Learn from experts on how to retain top talent, make future-of-work decisions, address DEI gaps, recruit the best candidates, and ensure that employees can thrive in a hybrid work model.

There’s a max exodus of employees quitting and trends say it’s going to be the norm for the next nine to 12 months, at least. According to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.3 million Americans quit in August 2021.

The Great Resignation isn’t unique to the U.S. It’s spreading across the globe, impacting many, if not all, industries.

But that doesn’t mean companies should give up and accept the current status quo.

We met with employee experience experts to get at the root of what’s causing so many employees to say sayonara, and what actions companies can take to make them want to stay.

Who was on the panel?

David Johnson // Principal Analyst // Forrester Research (guest speaker)

Dr. Benjamin Granger //Senior Manager & EX XM Scientist// Qualtrics

Emily Wilson // Product Marketing Manager // Qualtrics

Create equity among onsite, remote, and hybrid employees

Right now, it’s normal for a company to have employees who are fully remote, fully onsite, or who work from home and in the office. These are new working arrangements for many because of the pandemic, and it has been incredibly disruptive to the way people meet and collaborate.

If companies aren’t careful, this can create a lack of equity between those in the office and those who are remote. “Those in the office are closest to the bosses and centers of power. They tend to use that as a way to make sure their voices are heard above all others,” says David Johnson, who was a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research at the time of the webinar.

“Smash the notion that working remotely is a privilege. If you don’t, people who are remote will feel like their work doesn’t matter as much as others and they’ll burn out.”

David Johnson, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Advice from the Experts on Retaining Top Talent

To foster more equity, people managers need to set the expectation that even though some employees are in the office, meetings are digital-first. “One idea is to put laptop stands in conference rooms to remind people that it’s one screen and one camera per person, regardless of location.”

In the end, what matters most will be how effective a company is at listening. “Listening to the experiences of all employees is essential in creating an optimal experience for everyone,” says Dr. Benjamin Granger, Senior Manager & EX XM Scientist. When all employees are heard and they are given solutions to match their circumstances, everyone wins.

Empower employees to work during work, not 24/7

When asked “are you working from home or living at work,” it’s becoming commonplace for employees to answer “living at work.” Setting and sticking to boundaries that keep work from invading every aspect of an employee’s life is essential to avoid burnout.

Dr. Benjamin Granger, Senior Manager & EX XM Scientist at Qualtrics, says that he struggled to find a healthy separation, “one of the things I’ve had to change is to not send emails before or after working hours, and I turn off my email and Slack notifications.”

Employee burnout is a natural result of a person’s inability to separate life from work. Pushing Ben’s point further, David says that managers “have to lead by example and set the precedent to not respond outside of working hours.”

The ultimate goal is to help employees find fulfillment in their work regardless of where they do it. Employee engagement peaks when people make progress every day in the work they know is most important.

“Those who are really high in the engagement score are willing to stay at their employer for the next 12 months 96% of the time.”

David Johnson, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Advice from the Experts on Retaining Top Talent

Part of clear work boundaries between life and work requires defined physical spaces. David points out in the webinar that “a lot of people, especially those younger in their careers, don’t have good spaces at home where they can separate from other people or at least have an uncluttered space to work with.”

Some companies offer vaccinated employees the opportunity to work in coworking spaces even if they aren’t coming back to an office yet. Others offer employees a stipend to improve their home offices.

Constantly reinforce commitments to DEI, and back it up with action

Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts will never be done. It’s a never-ending, evolving process that needs consistent work. Today, it’s vital in retaining and attracting top talent.

“You have to have regular DEI meetings and report back regularly to employees on what the company is doing and what steps are being taken,” says David in the webinar.

For employees to feel that the company genuinely listens and cares about DEI, David says you have to repeatedly nail this process:

  1. Communicate commitment and progress
  2. Take action
  3. Report back to employees

Companies that don’t do this experience higher turnover. “They don’t reinforce their DEI commitment and lose people in underrepresented groups, and that’s tragic,” says David in the webinar.

When it comes to making any company decision, whether it’s vaccine mandates or hybrid work policies, DEI must be a part of the conversation. Ben says that “when we are thinking about these decisions, we have to also be thinking about how this is going to impact our DEI efforts.”

Qualtrics created an employee experience management solution that focuses on DEI efforts. Learn how you can build your own DEI strategy here.

When making future-of-work decisions, include employees throughout the process

Human beings are good with change as long as we are supported through the change. We aren’t good with uncertainty. Keeping employees out of the loop is a disaster waiting to happen.

Ben says that allowing employees to sit around and wonder what is going to happen is almost worse than companies communicating that they don’t have an answer yet.

“Listening to the experiences of all employees is essential in creating the optimal experience for everyone.”

Benjamin Granger, Senior Manager & EX XM Scientist

The companies with the most success in retaining top talent have employee listening programs that allow them to tap into what employees really want.

According to his presentation in the webinar, David believes a listening strategy is critical in formulating future decisions.

“Going into the pandemic, many companies didn’t have a listening strategy of any kind. They instituted it during the pandemic to understand how people were doing. That’s the start, and you have to continue that.”

He says that If companies don’t know what employees want then they can’t create those conditions for them to stay.

When making future-of-work decisions, David highlights that there are three kinds of distances to keep in mind.

  • Physical - the geographic separation of employees
  • Operational - the type and quality of communications
  • Relational - the cultural differences and communication styles of employees

In the webinar, David says that “what you want to do is focus on fostering good relationships between coworkers, managers, and leadership. Shrink the operational distance by making jobs and tasks intersect more. By focusing on operational and relational, the physical shouldn’t matter.”

Discover an additional information in a DEI complete guide

Qualtrics // Experience Management

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is a cloud-native software platform that empowers organizations to deliver exceptional experiences and build deep relationships with their customers and employees.

With insights from Qualtrics, organizations can identify and resolve the greatest friction points in their business, retain and engage top talent, and bring the right products and services to market. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world use Qualtrics’ advanced AI to listen, understand, and take action. Qualtrics uses its vast universe of experience data to form the largest database of human sentiment in the world. Qualtrics is co-headquartered in Provo, Utah and Seattle.

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