Organisations are increasingly being warned to brace themselves for a Turnover Tsunami or The Great Resignation. Whatever you choose to call it, you need to be prepared to manage it.
More than half of the respondents of a survey by the Achievers Workforce Institute in the US and Canada said they intend to look for a new job this year.
In cities such as Singapore, various surveys show that between 30 and 50 per cent of employed respondents expect to find new jobs.
The pandemic seems to have made many reevaluate their career choices. Some are disillusioned with the way their companies and leaders are handling the crisis and are looking for jobs in companies that are more aligned with their values. Others are in search of employers that support Work from Home arrangements beyond the pandemic. Then there are those for whom this challenging period has resulted in deep reflection, making them realise that they would prefer to do more meaningful and purposeful work instead of slugging it out in the corporate rat race.
Of course, we mustn’t discount pent-up job switches from last year when most were simply happy to hang on to their current jobs as others in badly-hit sectors were laid off amid shutdowns.
Since Covid-19, upskilling and reskilling have also been ramped up. With access to training subsidies and online learning courses, people have become more marketable, increasing their career options.
From an employer’s perspective, turnover is costly. Recruiting, hiring, training and onboarding take a great deal of time and money.
Here are some steps you can take now to manage a turnover tsunami in your organisation.
1. Identify and Speak with Top Performers
Managers should be empowered to have regular conversations with employees whom the organisation wants to keep. Every other week, find out how they’re doing, ask about areas in which they’d appreciate more support and discuss their career development.
The aim is to ensure that they realise the organisation has their interests at heart and is keen on working with them for mutual benefit.
Asking them about issues they’re unhappy with could also reveal important feedback for you to address in order to improve your retention strategies.
It’s vital for you to begin this process with your top performers before they make the decision to leave and start applying for jobs elsewhere. Once they’ve begun the process of leaving, trying to keep them will be an uphill task.
2. Conduct Company-wide Retention Surveys
In order to identify what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, survey all your current employees. Why have they stayed with you? What would make them think about leaving? What would make them stay?
Encourage employees to share their true feelings including disappointments and frustrations.
Use a variety of survey techniques – anonymous questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, conversations with third parties, etc.
Along with answers to such questions, data from exit interviews should enable you to formulate and implement appropriate retention strategies.
3. Tailor Strategies and Solutions for Specific Departments and People
If you’re not already monitoring turnover data by department, division, job function and manager, it’s time to start. This will help you better identify the causes of turnover, especially if they are related to a specific job function or manager. Knowing the problem will allow you to come up with more incisive solutions.
HR must also come to terms with the fact that each employee is different and strategies must be tailored to people’s needs. For instance, while some many want the flexibility of remote work, others may prefer to work in a structured office environment.
By tailoring solutions to optimise individual performance, you’ll come across as progressive and committed to your employees. Of course, you may not always be able to give every employee exactly what they want. In such cases, be sure to explain why. A sensible and reasonable explanation would go a long way towards making them feel like they matter in spite of the fact that they didn’t get what they asked for.
4. Increase Meaningful Interactions and Support
While many managers have made concerted efforts to stay in touch with their employees while working remotely, the quality of those interactions matters more than quantity.
Engagement goes beyond regular check-ins and virtual team parties.
It includes professional development, stretch assignments, mentorship, and leadership transparency.
Find out what your employees consider meaningful and make sure your interactions are aligned accordingly.
5. Make a Greater Effort to Stay on Top of Market Trends
In preparation for resignations, reevaluate your compensation and benefits packages based on employee feedback. They should be equitable and competitive. As you come up with solutions to improve these, remember that increases are not necessarily a loss. Weigh them up against the costs of turnover.
6. Make Sure your Job Descriptions are Honest
In our experience, turnover tends to be highest among new joiners. If the job doesn’t meet their expectations, they are likely to cut their losses and leave swiftly.
To prevent this, companies should be transparent about the worst parts of the job.
Making such things clear in the job ad and during the job interview enables candidates to approach the process with their eyes wide open and reduces the likelihood of resignations.
Your onboarding process should also be deliberately designed to ease new hires into their jobs.
7. Communicate Frequently and Train Managers to Communicate Effectively
Ultimately, understanding why employees stay and why they leave is key. This knowledge will inform your retention strategies.
Direct communication between managers and employees, HR and managers, pulse surveys, etc. should be conducted frequently.
Organisations should also make it easy for employees to communicate with HR. Some organisations have text platforms specifically for employees to communicate directly with HR. Of course, in order for this to be meaningful, HR has to be responsive.
HR should also train managers to be more effective communicators when it comes to career conversations, issues that affect employees and possible solutions.
While today’s workers aren’t likely to work for the same company their entire careers, organisations that provide a great experience are more likely to successfully extend employees’ tenures.
This has numerous benefits. In addition to reducing turnover costs, it burnishes your employer brand, further bolstering talent attraction and retention.