Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Freelance Writer
Business leaders and HR experts are taking a closer look at shifting employee needs and for a good reason. Happier employees not only contribute towards a more positive work environment. They’re also an important factor in improving employee retention and driving business success:
- Happier employees work faster, focus better and are 13% more productive;
- Satisfied employees are 63% more likely to stay at a company if at least part of their needs are being met, thereby reducing costly employee turnover;
- Companies that meet a greater share of their employee needs and expectations are likely to be 22% more profitable than those who don’t;
Yet, the expectations of employees vary from one generation to the next. Currently, 59% of the global workforce is made up of Gen Z employees and Millennials. Both generations tend to have different preferences and expectations from the workplace.
Gen Z, for instance, is the youngest group to join the workplace and comes with the least experience. It’s also the generation with higher levels of anxiety and lower employee retention rates. On the other hand, Millennials who grew up facing recessions and the 2007 economic crisis, have become used to job-hopping and tend to place a bigger priority on work-life balance than career progression opportunities or other job benefits.
While it may not be possible to meet the needs of all your employees, there are several strategies you can implement to boost employee retention while ensuring continuous business growth.
#1 Introduce Choose-Your-Own-Benefit Options
While remote and flexible working has always been a desired job perk, it only became a reality in the past year. Last year saw more than 70% of full-time employees in the United States shift towards a remote working arrangement. 80% of those employees expect to continue working from home at least three days per week even after the pandemic.
This shift has highlighted other aspects of the workplace which are in dire need of change, like
- employee benefits
- opportunities for professional growth
- mental health support
In fact, current employee dissatisfaction levels are so high that we’re seeing millions of people quit jobs. This has become known as the “The Great Resignation”.
This has sounded the alarm bells across many corporations who’ve found themselves vulnerable and understaffed at a critical time. For instance, Amazon, one of the biggest employers in the U.S., has offered its 750,000 frontline workers free education in an effort to retain and attract more talent. REI, the retail giant, also decided to abandon its headquarters and instead open dozens of satellite offices closer to people’s homes.
These are a few of the examples of how businesses can try to attract and retain talent. There are also other employee benefits you can look at, like custom benefit options. With this, employees can personalize their own benefits package. For example, knowing that work-life balance is important for Millennials or that Gen Zers care about the impact they have on the world, you can look into offering a combination of perks like sabbaticals, stock options, extended maternity and paternity leave or even paid volunteer work.
#2 Implement A Transparent Communication Strategy
In line with employees’ increased focus on purpose and value in the workplace, improved communication can be beneficial. Transparent communications can be a great opportunity to re-connect with your distributed workforce to make them feel heard and valued.
In addition, establishing a culture of transparency and openness can have a direct impact on your bottom line. For instance, businesses who have an open internal communication strategy see an increase in employee productivity and overall well-being.
Increased transparency from leadership also translates to reduced anxiety about the future. This becomes particularly important in the current context of economic uncertainty. Finally, clear communication can help bridge the gap between employees and management at times when businesses expand and core processes might get disrupted.
Implementing transparent comms shouldn’t be that hard either. Things like weekly all-staff meetings might sound intimidating to organize. However, it can be a great way to share company-wide news and engage employees’ feelings towards upcoming changes. Likewise, public announcements on Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Introview where employees can comment or share their views is a great way to keep everyone in the loop, and give your staff a forum to share their thoughts.
In order to avoid misunderstandings or getting overwhelmed with messages, make sure you set clear expectations of how and when employees can expect to hear from you regarding their proposed ideas.
#3 Prioritize Workplace Skills Development
Employee development is vital for business growth. Investing in training and skills development empowers employees, and it directly impacts your competitiveness as a business. Not to mention that over 94% of workers say that they would stay with a company that invested in development. As you can see, this can directly impact your employee retention rate.
Investing in employee development and skills in the workplace allows you to remain agile and adjust to the rapid rate of innovation. However, hiring a new employee each time your business requires a new skills set can quickly become a costly exercise. Instead, investing in reskilling and upskilling existing employees can save you money while retaining key company knowledge within the business. Sustained employee development also contributes to a culture of growth. That culture, in turn, boosts employee satisfaction, improves buyers’ feedback and helps attract more talent.
Training as an onboarding program or occasional course throughout the year is not enough. Instead, focus on creating a structured and measurable learning and development program. Analyze what your business needs are and what areas your employees want to grow in. This will then allow you to create personalized training plans that respond directly to what your business needs and what your employees want.
#4 Create a Healthy and Inclusive Work Environment
Mental health has become increasingly important in the past year as millions of workers faced health and financial uncertainty. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 50% of Millennials and 75% of Gen Z had left job positions in the past due to mental health reasons.
The lack of stress management in companies and a negative working environment can lead to higher employee turnover, reduced productivity and absenteeism. The cumulative effect of these outcomes is estimated to cost U.S. businesses more than $300 billion annually.
Looking at this data, it’s clear that companies need to introduce comprehensive stress management policies or strengthen existing ones. For example, in 2019 and 2020 many larger companies started offering dedicated mental health programs. The goal was to build resilience and reduce the potential for burnout.
However, standalone mental health programs aren’t enough. Oftentimes mental health issues can be triggered or made worse by the corporate culture itself. Instead, businesses who focus on making their workplaces more inclusive and proactively target various diversity, equity and inclusion issues can prevent some of the issues and improve employee well-being in a sustainable manner.
The past year has shown that no business is exempt from the vagaries of the market. Even the biggest and most visionary companies can be destablized by global market shifts. However, one thing businesses can do is invest in their employees and ensure they have a committed workforce when the going gets tough.
As people’s priorities change, employers and business executives have to stay attuned to their demands. They must also introduce new policies and perks which will drive retention and maintain business growth. Custom benefits packages, flexible working arrangements and welcoming work culture are just some of the steps that can help businesses increase employee retention and promote business growth.