Retaining Employees During Uncertain Times

June 16, 2021

The harmful economic effects of COVID-19 were on full display in early 2020 as businesses laid off employees. As post-COVID labor markets continuously tighten, businesses ought to focus on retaining employees via nonwage factors.

Tight Labor Markets

Nancy Cleeland of the Society for Human Resource Management details that because of economic uncertainty in the summer of 2020, employees left their jobs at lower rates than ever before. Rather than looking for better opportunities, workers focused on self-preservation from layoffs. Feeling trapped in employment out of fear, however, leads to burnout and disengagement, which can in turn have critical consequences.

Now, as the economy has largely reopened, the job market is extraordinarily tight. Roy Maurer of SHRM correctly predicted a “turnover tsunami” at the end of the pandemic: “retention and turnover experts now predict voluntary job-leaving will increase significantly in 2021 as employees resume job searches they put off for the past year.”

The costs associated with high turnover rates could be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses. As the economy reopens, retaining employees is crucial for any company’s bottom line. 

Improving Nonwage Factors

However, increasing monetary compensation need not be the solution. Indeed, 78 percent of turnover does not occur due to low pay. Preparing for the “turnover tsunami” requires a workplace shift.

Some employees require that their mental needs be addressed. Alleviating fear and garnering trust goes a long way for a burnt-out employee. Indeed, Cleeland further explains that giving employees a sense of control over their work environment is a fantastic way to build trusting work relationships. Active listening is also key for building trust and retaining employees that are struggling to remain invested.

Getting feedback from employees is not always easy. As Cleeland reveals, “even if asked directly, employees afraid of losing their jobs aren’t likely to express their unhappiness to supervisors.” 

She likewise states that even conventional employee surveys will not divulge much information because of job-scarcity fear. Showing empathy, understanding, and transparency to employees regardless of survey results will surely improve the workplace environment.

Qlicket offers completely anonymous surveys that employees can trust. Fear is not a factor with anonymity, and with instant feedback and clear communication, Qlicket sets out to reduce employee turnover by making employees feel comfortable and heard.

Written by Qlicket team member Ethan Forde.

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