6 Tips to Boost Retention During the Great Resignation

February 9, 2022

The Great Resignation continues to be an ongoing trend impacting businesses of all sizes. Here’s what we can do about it.

Associate professor at Texas A&M University Anthony Klotz, credited with coining the term the “Great Resignation”, has attributed the cause of the employment mass exodus to four main reasons:

  1.  A backlog of employees who wanted to resign prior to the pandemic but held out a bit longer
  2. Individuals who experienced an awakening-type shift in identity and/or purpose, which motivated them to launch their own business or pursue a new career
  3. Burnout, particularly among frontline workers
  4. A refusal to return to offices (or jobs that require them to be in an office) after working remotely for over a year

Beyond the unprecedented number of resignations, even employees who remain are now feeling empowered to ask for more from their employer. Increased compensation, both salary and benefits, as well as accommodating work conditions that support an improved work-life balance, such as flexible schedules and remote work, have become standard expectations among many employees. Read on for six best practices to boost retention and combat the Great Resignation.

Follow these 6 tips to boost retention and slow the turnover tsunami

1. Acknowledge and Address Burnout
In order to prevent burnout you first need to create a culture that is supportive and transparent. The first step in doing so is taking a hard look at your current culture and asking yourself the tough questions. Do my employees feel valued and cared for? Do they find fulfillment in the work they are doing? Is our work environment one where they can ask for help? These questions alone go a long way in addressing and preventing burnout. One way of showing appreciation and compassion is through communication efforts. Notes of encouragement and support that come from senior leaders and direct managers can make a great impact. Managers should check in regularly with employees and ask how they are doing and about their workload. This is important information to have on regular basis so that you can make adjustments and offer additional support as needed.
Additionally, managers should encourage self-care through the promotion of PTO and other benefits. A culture that celebrates the use of PTO rather than the fear of falling behind is one that employees will want to grow with.


2. Incentivize Loyalty
Employees must be paid enough to take the issue of money off the table. Total compensation, salaries and benefits combined, should be competitive. In addition to updating your overall compensation package, consider offering one-time bonuses or providing work-from-home stipends. Looking at compensation holistically and re-leveling will also allow you the opportunity to find and correct any pay inequities. Additionally, consider implementing new and innovative benefits, such as lifting the cap on PTO, well-being incentives, a company-wide vacation day or simply “feel good Fridays” where no one schedules meetings past 12pm. These kinds of perks might seem small, but they help create a culture of trust and appreciation where retention can thrive.


3. Encourage and Reward Existing Employees
The Great Resignation affects your employees who have chosen to stay just as much as it affects your business. When turnover becomes common at your organization it is a huge hit to morale and makes it increasingly difficult to keep existing employees. They’ve lost friends and coworkers who they previously relied on, more duties are placed on them, and they may feel lost or stretched too thin. Focus on opportunities to bring existing employees together, such a teambuilding event where coworkers can get to know others they might not have met before. This will aide in boosting spirits and redeveloping a sense of community while creating new bonds for the future.


4. Elevate Your Purpose
Your company’s purpose is the entire reason you exist. Your purpose is the reason employees join the organization and choose to stay. Particularly during turbulent times, the purpose (or mission) of an organization holds the utmost importance. Reevaluate your company’s mission and prove to employees that there’s more to your organization that just the bottom line. Utilize your mission to shape how your organization operates and then share or reintroduce that purpose with your employees to create a unified foundation on which to build.


5. Provide Opportunities to Grow
If your best people gave their two weeks’ notice, what would you do to change their minds? Ask them, “if sky’s the limit, what does your dream job look like here?” Then look for way to make that a reality. Many forward-thinking companies have been conducting retention interviews asking top employees what it would take for them to stay to gain valuable insights during this unprecedented period of resignations. Harvard Business Review reports that a significant predictor of whether employees are engaged is how enthusiastically they answer the question, “Does my job make good use of my skills?” Show current employees that you value them by providing new opportunities to grow and advance. Workers crave this vote of confidence as Harvard Business Review survey data shows 68% of workers are willing to retrain and learn new skills.


6. Embrace Flexibility
Remote work and flexible schedules are two facets of work environments that are not going anywhere. The future of work will continue to evolve and provide employees with additional flexibility in terms of location, time, job description and career path. Embrace it, because it’s not going anywhere and those organizations who adopt and embrace flexibility in the workplace are the ones who will succeed in the race for talent and retention of existing employees. Invite employees to have a seat at the table and take their input to create the future of your workplace. When people invited to help build their dream home, they’ll want to live in it. Additionally, consider hiring candidates who aren’t quite a perfect match to your job profile. If they have 75% of what you are looking for, take them. With the right mindset and support, those candidates who may come up short on paper can learn the missing elements on the job.


If your company takes the right steps, focuses on retention and reconceptualizes what it means to be a part of the organization, you have the power to slow down or even reverse the mass exodus that has been sweeping through industries and organizations of all sizes. Strong leadership and decisive action are what is needed, and it’s needed immediately.