Start turning attrition into attraction
Our research underscores the many ways the pandemic has irrevocably changed what people expect from work. The landscape will continue to change as companies try out new hybrid-work approaches. If you’re a CEO or a member of a top team, your best move now is to hit “pause” and take the time to think through your next moves. A heavy-handed back-to-the-office policy or other mandates delivered from on high—no matter how well intentioned—are likely to backfire.
But don’t think through your next moves in a vacuum; include your employees in the process. Look to them to help shape the plan and solutions. Our research suggests that executives aren’t listening to their people nearly enough. Don’t be one of these executives.
As you take stock, ask the following questions:
Do we shelter toxic leaders? Executives who don’t make their people feel valued can drive them from companies, with or without a new job in hand. If you don’t have leaders who motivate and inspire their teams and lead with compassion, you need them—desperately.
Do we have the right people in the right places (especially managers)? Many employers in our survey reported having the right people but not necessarily in the right places. When it comes to managers, this problem can be particularly damaging, especially in hybrid environments, where new leadership skills are required. Training and capability building will be crucial for managers and executives who didn’t come from hybrid or virtual environments—in other words, for everyone from the C-suite to the front line.
How strong was our culture before the pandemic? If you’re like many executives we know, you see a return to the office as a way to address lingering culture and connectivity concerns. Or you prefer a full return to the office because you miss it yourself (a case of “absence makes the heart grow fonder”). You should remember that although the needs of your employees have changed, your culture may not have kept up, and any prior organizational weaknesses are now magnified. Employees will have little tolerance for a return to a status quo they didn’t like before.
Is our work environment transactional? If your only response to attrition is to raise compensation, you’re unwittingly telling your people that your relationship with them is transactional and that their only reason to stay with you is a paycheck. Your very best people will always have a better cash offer somewhere else. You want to solve the problems of the whole person (not just their bank accounts) as well as the whole organization.
Are our benefits aligned with employee priorities? Free parking or entertainment-related perks are probably not top of mind for employees right now. Among survey respondents who had left their jobs, 45 percent cited the need to take care of family as an influential factor in their decision. A similar proportion of people who are thinking of quitting cited the demands of family care. Expanding childcare, nursing services, or other home- and family-focused benefits could help keep such employees from leaving and show that you value them as whole people. Patagonia, long the standard-bearer for progressive workplace policies, retains nearly 100 percent of its new moms with on-site childcare and other benefits for parents.
Employees want career paths and development opportunities. Can we provide it? Employees are looking for jobs with better, stronger career trajectories. They desire both recognition and development. Smart companies find ways to reward people by promoting them not only into new roles but also into additional levels within their existing ones. This is one way companies can more quickly reward and recognize people for good work. Waffle House famously offers three levels for grill positions—which at other companies is just one role. Entry-level cooks are “grill operators,” more experienced cooks “master grill operators,” and the best cooks are known as “rock star grill operators,” or more colloquially as “Elvis on the grill.”
How are we building a sense of community? Remote work is no panacea, but neither is a full on-site return. In-person connectivity continues to have massive benefits for your organization. But it will require considerable management attention to get right as health and safety concerns continue to evolve, particularly because employees’ needs and expectations have changed. For example, employees with unvaccinated young children may feel unsafe at large in-person gatherings. One organization took an inclusive approach by sending out themed “staycation” packages: a movie night with popcorn and a gift card; a game night with family-oriented games, chips, and salsa; and a “virtual spa day” complete with face masks, tea, and chocolate. The company created a Slack channel for posting photos and stories, encouraging employees to share these experiences. Another organization encouraged connectivity among employees by offering coffee gift cards to those who signed up to participate in one-on-one “coffee chats” with employees they didn’t know—a perk that improved connectivity and helped people expand their networks.
If you lead a large team or a company, remember this: the Great Attrition is real, will continue, and may get worse before it gets better. Yet this unique moment also represents a big opportunity. To seize it, take a step back, listen, learn, and make the changes employees want—starting with a focus on the relational aspects of work that people have missed the most. By understanding why they are leaving and by acting thoughtfully, you may just be able to turn the Great Attrition into the Great Attraction.
If you are currently experiencing a challenge with your workplace and would like to have a 1/2 hour free consultation you can book it right here.
Do you need to hire staff but want to ensure you have the funds to find top-notch talent? Well, we are here to help you get started. We hosted a Livestream conversation with grant specialist, Jeremy O’Krafka that you will have access to plus a complete guide to hiring grants (plus additional resources as well). Once you download the guide you will get access to:
- Hiring Guide
- Livestream video Q & A
- Opportunity to have a follow-up discussion with 1/2 hour consult to discuss your needs, we’ll help with the strategy.