The Great Resignation: 3 Steps To Retain Your Valuable Talent

Talent Management


Turnover is costly. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates the average replacement cost of a salaried employee to be six to nine months’ salary. For an employee earning $60,000 per year, that totals approximately $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting, training, onboarding, and lost productivity costs.

Your company does not have to bleed talent, or revenue. 

To retain your valuable talent, assess your team for signs that they are about to quit, equip and empower employees to clarify and own what they need to be engaged at work, and leverage creative solutions to keep your talent.

1. Assess your team.

There are overt and subtle warning signs that a team member may be on the verge of quitting. 

They express frequent dissatisfaction with their job.

For example:

• They complain about their manager after almost every interaction with them.

• They complain about their compensation, benefits, their laptop, their desk chair, the coffee they drink in your breakroom. 

• They complain about the lack of, or the poor quality of, tools and resources available to complete their work.

• They complain about their teammates.

• They complain about the leadership of the company.

They exhibit less motivation and interest in their work.

For example:

• They show up late and leave early.

• They either do not attend meetings and/or decline meetings with no explanation, or do they attempt to provide resources or materials for the meeting.

• They are frequently on their phone while attending meetings or working at their desk.

• They have stopped returning emails, phone calls, or texts. 

They no longer commit to long-term projects.

They contribute less during meetings.

For example:

  • They do not actively participate in conversations and primarily contribute only when called on.
  • Their overall engagement is terse, short, and aloof.
  • They do not volunteer to complete any post-meeting action items.

Their productivity has decreased.

For example:

  • They are turning in projects or deliverables late.
  • Their work has typos or errors.
  • You receive feedback from their peers and/or internal clients that projects or deliverables are late, have typos, and/or errors.
  • If they are in a customer service role, there are delays in resolving customer problems and/or satisfaction scores are declining.

After you have identified who may be about to leave your company, have a conversation so you can understand the root cause of their dissatisfaction at work. Often the presenting complaint or concern is not the real issue. Once you understand why your employee wants to quit, then you can partner to co-create a job that supports their needs and enables your company to achieve its strategic and fiscal goals. 

2. Equip and empower employees to clarify and own what they need to be engaged at work.

Do your team members know what they need to be engaged at work, what they require to be happier and to find their work meaningful and purposeful?

It takes two to create a vibrant, reciprocally constructive, and meaningful professional relationship. This is not possible if your employees are unclear on what they need to be engaged in their jobs. 

Ask your team members to identify and own what they need in each of the Five Essentials for Professional Fulfillment – admit, align, develop, cultivate, and design.

• Admit – How do you want to be recognized and appreciated in exchange for your contributions?

• Align – What are your strengths and unique skills? How can you align and leverage them to support the accomplishment of the company’s strategic goals?

• Develop – What skills and knowledge do you want to develop that will motivate and inspire you and help you advance in your career and within the organization?

• Cultivate – How can you cultivate authentic relationships with the team so you can advance your career and enjoy your work?

• Design – How can you design your job to find meaning in your work?

Once your employees have clarified what they need to be gratified at work, invite them to participate in a conversation about how to create an equally favorable way to work that supports all of you in achieving your goals.

3. Leverage creative solutions to retain your talent.

Community is powerful and essential for all of us. We are not alone in our challenges and hardships. We can learn from, and with, each other in times of struggle. 

Here are a few creative strategies companies are deploying to keep their talent:

• Bank of America is letting employees use up to five sick days as paid days off. They are increasing the minimum wage for U.S. employees to $25 by 2025. The Bank is also expanding its childcare benefits by offering ten additional backup care days (provided by Bright Horizons) in addition to the usual forty days.

• Red Ventures, an online media company, is offering “global disconnect days,” which allows employees extended weekends to rest and recharge.

• United Airlines purchased a flight school in February 2020 to recruit and train pilots with little-to-no experience. The airline says it will offer $1.2 million total in scholarships for 5,000 students, and plans to ensure that half of the recruits are made up of women and people of color.

• AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company, is offering grants of up to $1,500 to employees returning to onsite work who need help paying for childcare or remote learning through its COVID-19 Childcare Relief Fund.

The Great Resignation does not have to devastate your company. Re-engage your employees and re-energize your culture to retain your valuable talent.

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