The Great Resignation: 5 Data-Driven Tips to Reduce Employee Turnover

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Employee turnover threatens economic recovery across industries in the aftermath of 2020. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.2 million American workers1 quit their jobs in October 2021; increasing the number of job openings to 11 million while simultaneously creating a massive labor shortage.

Research shows increasingly high rates of unemployment and a growing number of job listings; making the market a mysterious and rocky terrain to traverse. However, when it comes to employee turnover, we’re not talking about a new phenomenon. Low retention is a looming threat to companies across the globe because it is centered around job satisfaction2 or lack thereof.

Take a look at your team. Do you see any signs of employee burnout? Has your company been short-staffed for a while? What’s your strategy for employee retention? The statistics pale in comparison to the stark reality of how costly labor shortages can be for a business; which is why we’ve compiled a list of 5 data-driven tips to reduce employee turnover.

Tip #1

Actively listen to employees

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Attracting and retaining talent is a balancing act. Are you having a hard time keeping candidates in your company’s most critical departments? If so, consider conducting a survey to gauge how your team feels. According to a study3 published in FastCompany. Individuals who feel it is safe to vocalize concerns and openly share ideas are more engaged at work and 12% happier.

Under staffed and unsure how your team feels? There is good news is that, despite how things may be going right now, you can combat employee turnover and create an environment conducive to listening. How, you ask? The experts at the Harvard Business Review4 suggest the following: 

  • Before conversing, remove distractions so you can focus on the person in front of you
  • Avoid reacting emotionally during your conversation
  • Ask clarifying questions to make sure everyone’s on the same page
  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues

Tip #2

Prioritize a healthy work-life balance

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The pandemic resulted in a paradigmatic shift5 for the American workforce and the global economy. With constant supply chain disruptions, infections spreading at work and zoom calls that could’ve been emails; quit rates6 have increased by 25% since 2017 and continue to rise. 

In a 2021 survey7 titled, How the Great Resignation Will Shape HR and the Future of Work, WorkHuman, polled over 3,500 workers from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada. The survey findings revealed that 4 in 10 employees plan to look for a new job in 2022. While this research analyzes a sample of the global workforce, this projected turnover could cost companies millions of dollars and keep the resignation momentum going. Of the workers surveyed, 30% pinpointed the desire for “more flexibility” as the main reason for looking for new opportunities; with that number increasing to 39% for Black individuals. 

After several months of uncertainty, stress, grief and burnout; employees are demanding workplaces that prioritize a holistic work-life integration. Not sure how to support your staff? Here are some suggestions:

  • Offer remote or hybrid working
  • Encourage breaks and use of vacation time
  • Review workloads 
  • Offer money-saving perks (i.e. subsidized fitness classes)
  • Increase support for parents and grieving individuals

Tip #3

Compensate employees fairly

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In an in-depth analysis8 on Trends in Employee Resignation Rates, published by Harvard Business Review, more than 9 million employee records from over 4,000 companies were reviewed.  With the highest quit rates being among mid-career employees who desire increased salaries; this study revealed that compensation is one of many catalysts for the Great Resignation. 

If you’re worried about retention, conduct a salary review and consider offering raises at annual performance reviews. Can’t afford to compete in a salary arms race with other companies for candidates? Consider implementing other perks such as subsidized transportation or monthly coffee stipends to engage employees. While these won’t pay the bills, it can help retention. 

In their article, The Great Resignation Is Really the Great Discontent, professionals at Gallup(9)  noted; “Though pay is important, money alone isn’t the solution. Some very well-paid people are among the most disengaged, and disengaged white-collar workers are slightly more likely than others to be looking for a job.”

Tip #4

Recognize and reward accomplishments

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When individuals on your team perform exceptionally, you should congratulate them. Sounds like common sense? Well, studies show that it is not a common practice to recognize and reward employee accomplishments. In a recent study by Achievers10 it was found that recognition is actually very important to workers; with 93% of participants hoping to be recognized for work achievements at least once a quarter.

Lack of recognition leads to feeling undervalued and employees who don’t feel appreciated, find other places to work. So what are the benefits of taking time to congratulate a job well-done? Research shows that the some benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased turnover
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Happier and more loyal employees 
  • Decreased stress and feelings of inadequacy

Tip #5

Set weekly goals to give small wins

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If you’re looking for ways to improve engagement and keep folks onboard, try setting weekly goals that your team can conquer quickly. Remember, this is NOT about busy work; employees feel most appreciated when they are given real tasks that contribute to big picture goals. After all, tasks with no return on investment are a waste of company time11 and money. Setting specific, realistic, and measurable goals; on the other hand, is a great way to keep your employees motivated. 

A study12 by Psychology Professor Dr. Gail Matthews confirms the importance of goal setting; over 3 quarters of participants saw success when they wrote down their goals, created an action plan and provided weekly progress reports. While the study was conducted on students, this type of goal setting can be applied to employee/employer relationships.

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References

1. “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary – 2021 M10 Results.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm. Accessed 29 Dec. 2021.

2. Council, Forbes Human Resources. “13 Techniques To Ensure Employees Feel Fairly Compensated.” Forbes, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2020/02/20/13-techniques-to-ensure-employees-feel-fairly-compensated/?sh=5692572c108e.

3. Dodson, P. Claire. “Why Happy Employees Are 12% More Productive.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 22 July 2015, https://www.fastcompany.com/3048751/happy-employees-are-12-more-productive-at-work.

4. “How to Really Listen to Your Employees.” Harvard Business Review, https://www.facebook.com/HBR, 30 Jan. 2015, https://hbr.org/2015/01/how-to-really-listen-to-your-employees.

5. Michelson, Joan. “The COVID-19 Paradigm Shift—From Values To Careers To Whole Economies.” Forbes, Forbes, 5 May 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/joanmichelson2/2020/05/05/the-covid-19-paradigm-shift–from-values-to-careers-to-whole-economies/?sh=25a7fc1f38a2.

6. “Table  4.  Quits Levels and Rates by Industry and Region, Seasonally Adjusted – 2021 M10 Results.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.t04.htm. Accessed 29 Dec. 2021.

7. “Introducing the New Workhuman Survey Report: The Great Resignation.” Creating a More Human Workplace | Workhuman |Workhuman, Workhuman Resource Center, 14 Sept. 2021, https://www.workhuman.com/resources/globoforce-blog/introducing-the-new-workhuman-survey-report-the-great-resignation.

8. “Who Is Driving the Great Resignation?” Harvard Business Review, 15 Sept. 2021, https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation.

9. Robison, Vipula Gandhi and Jennifer. “The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Really the ‘Great Discontent.’” Gallup.Com, Gallup, 22 July 2021, https://www.gallup.com/workplace/351545/great-resignation-really-great-discontent.aspx.

10. “5 Eye-Opening HR Stats: Why Employee Recognition Matters – Engage Blog.” Engage Blog, https://www.achievers.com/blog/5-eye-opening-hr-stats-employee-recognition-matters/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2021.

11. Nordstrom, Todd. “Only Bad Bosses Expect Their Employees to Be Constantly Busy | Inc.Com.” Inc.Com, Inc., https://www.inc.com/todd-nordstrom/if-youre-constantly-busy-youre-doing-something-wrong.html. Accessed 29 Dec. 2021.

12. “Achieving Your Goals: An Evidence-Based Approach – MSU Extension.” MSU Extension, 26 Aug. 2014, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/achieving_your_goals_an_evidence_based_approach.

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