2022 will be remembered for the job market’s upheaval – with employers facing unprecedented challenges when trying to hire and retain top talent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a growing number of U.S. employees have voluntarily left their jobs in the past year, which has created a historic phenomenon now known as “The Great Resignation”.

When an employee leaves, especially if that employee was either critical to operations or simply well-liked among their coworkers, it can be a big blow to morale, productivity, and budget. Many companies in the last year have lost multiple employees in short order, compounding these effects.

Loss of quality employees can create an insecure working environment, and excess job duties that coworkers must absorb. This, in turn, makes it harder to retain employees that didn’t otherwise intend on leaving.

Problems with retention can become costly in a hurry with the amount of money and time invested in recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee.

Later in this article, we’ll discuss the importance of having employee retention efforts in place, and what these initiatives might look like.

Employees Have Many Reasons to Leave

Robert Half’s Job Optimism Survey of more than 2,400 professionals tracked worker sentiment on current and future career prospects from 2021 to 2022. The survey found that 41% of respondents were currently looking or planned to look for a new role in the second half of 2022.

Why did the workers say they were planning on leaving?

Employees cited one or more of the following reasons for wanting to leave their jobs:

  • Inadequate salary (Note: In Robert Half’s Job Optimism Survey, 65% of workers said a salary boost is the main reason they are seeking a new job)
  • perks and benefits package that isn’t competitive
  • Feeling overworked and/or unsupported
  • Limited career advancement
  • A need for better work-life balance
  • Lack of recognition
  • Boredom
  • Unhappiness with management
  • Concerns about the company’s direction or financial health
  • Dissatisfaction with the company culture
  • The desire to make a change
  • More compelling job opportunities at other companies

Employees that feel dissatisfied and have in-demand skills likely won’t have to wait long to find a new opportunity, either.

With so many companies stepping up recruiting efforts in a market that has fewer prospects than ever, it is wisest to plan to retain valuable employees with strategic efforts designed to help thwart attrition and show at-risk employees that they can get the fulfillment they need without leaving.

Consider an Employee Retention Plan

Employee retention efforts can not only keep hard-working employees satisfied and productive; they can create an environment that can be attractive to fresh talent and help prevent attrition.

To retain employees, you may want to consider why they want to leave in the first place, then develop strategies that show employees that you value them, especially when you’re in the process of hiring new ones.


Strategies to Retain the Best Talent

Some team members will leave sooner than you’d like, so efforts can – and should – be made to make their decision a little tougher.

To begin, revisit pay scales and work-life balance efforts, consider creative adjustments to your benefit plans, and increase tactics that support morale, such as bonuses, gifting, appreciation gestures, special celebrations, and more.

Even if they still decide to move on, they’ll likely say good things about your business – which is especially important with the increasing use of Glassdoor, a website that allows prior employees to evaluate employers. This may boost chances for a quality replacement.

Efforts such as these can improve retention and reduce turnover in the future.

Here are a few ideas other than compensation that may boost the environment and improve employee satisfaction going forward:

  • Set clear goals and expectations for your employees and provide tools, time, and training if they aren’t meeting them.
  • Offer a clear career path with opportunities for growth: Exemplary employees want to learn and grow, so offer new work opportunities, challenging tasks, and other learning opportunities.
  • Conduct regular reviews that allow employees the opportunity to receive feedback and constructive criticism about their work performance.
  • Recognize employees for their work – and perhaps more importantly, recognize them in the way they want (for instance, some may prefer a private “thank you”, while others may want to be mentioned at a team meeting or awards ceremony).
  • Conduct and offer incentives to employees who participate in “stay interviews” to identify why people stay with your organization.
  • Take action on improvements suggested in exit interviews.
  • Provide quality management that taps into employee talent and skills.
  • Offer a confidential platform for employees to speak freely.
  • Create and maintain a positive and fair-minded company culture.
  • Don’t assume your employees are happy.

Many of the above strategies are rooted in healthy, frequent, and open feedback loops between employees and leadership. It just takes a little effort to foster a high-feedback environment, and that feedback is pivotal to allowing organizations to act, improve areas that are lacking, and keep employees feeling appreciated and recognized for their achievements and hard work.

Showing You Care

Many times, retention is as simple as making team members feel appreciated.

Raises tied to accomplishments and achievements, bonuses, and company gifts are a more significant way to honor their value, but don’t forget to acknowledge a job well done and say “thank you” often. A little gratitude can go a long way.

Looking forward, employers may be able to see the Great Resignation as an opportunity to acknowledge what they already have, provide a more attractive job environment for new hires, and begin a trend of retention.