How to Boost Employee Retention and Motivation During the Great Resignation



As The Great Resignation chugs along in 2022, business leaders should reassess how they plan on retaining and motivating their employees – or risk facing even more turnover in the coming year. 


There’s no doubt the workforce changed in the last few years, most markedly in the number of people switching jobs or leaving the workforce entirely. By the end of 2021, the U.S. didn’t have enough workers to fill its nearly 11 million job openings. In other words, for every 100 open positions, there were only 58 unemployed workers to fill them, CNN reported


Aditi Gokhale, Northwestern Mutual’s chief commercial officer and president of investment products and services, told Fast Company recently that employers need to be ready to see more unprecedented turnover in 2022. 


“The Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down. Recent data reports that only 65% of people plan to stay with their employer in 2022, down 5% from 2021,” Gokhale said. 


6 ways employers can retain and motivate workers during The Great Resignation


While low-wage, frontline workers have led the charge in The Great Resignation, data also suggest that retirements are up and even high-paid executives are on the move. 


Employers everywhere should begin thinking of ways to retain workers and attract new talent. Here are a few tips for employers dealing with The Great Resignation in 2022: 


  • Communicate how individual’s work contributes to the company’s mission 


Workers, especially younger professionals, want to know the work they do is important and meaningful. Most business leaders understand how each employee contributes to the company and why that contribution is important, but some leaders fail to communicate that with their employees. 


Leaders should regularly talk about why an employee’s job is important and the impact it has on the company and community. During an annual performance review, for example, supervisors can summarize how much work the employee did in the past year and how that contributed to the organization overall. 


Take any opportunity to refer back to your company’s mission statement – especially when you’re asking for more work out of your employees. If your staff understands the reasons behind their assignments and projects, they’ll feel more motivated to step up to challenges. 


  • Show commitment and accountability to workplace diversity 


A 2022 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that toxic corporate culture was the strongest predictor of employee attrition – even more than compensation. Toxic corporate cultures, the researchers said, can develop when organizations fail to promote diversity or act unethically. 


Workers are paying more attention than ever to workplace diversity and want to work for organizations that display high levels of diversity and inclusion. 


  • Use company resources to empower families 


Many who left the workforce during the pandemic did so because of costs associated with childcare. That often happened when parents were not making enough to cover daycare or babysitters, which often became necessary due to school shutdowns. 


As a result, young and skilled professionals simply left the workforce. Even as many schools reopened, parents may have reservations about returning to work due to added stress and burnout they’ve always faced from full-time work.


Organizations should realize that working parents make a significant contribution to the workforce, but their needs aren’t always met by their employers. 


Larger companies may be able to offer child care, and smaller companies can attract parents with things like remote work and flexible schedules. Other perks recommended by could include infertility or adoption assistance, college savings plans, and robust family health insurance plans. 


4.   Don’t rule out remote work  


Although executives may be eager for the company to return to normal, most workers aren’t excited to head back to the office


As people learned how to operate remotely during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, many workers realized they could do their jobs and have time to manage their personal responsibilities from anywhere. 


Job analysts say that resignations are likely to increase for companies that send workers back to the office full-time. 


That’s because workers now consider flexible work arrangements to be standard practice, and applicants with exceptional skills and experience are more likely to favor roles that allow them to work remotely at least some of the time. 


5.   Reward employees who choose to stay


As people had time to reassess their priorities during the pandemic, many realized that things like family and friends mattered more to them than the company they worked for. Researchers say this decrease in commitment is one of the phenomena driving The Great Resignation, the BBC reported


Simple incentives that reward longevity can inspire employees to stay with a company even in strong job markets. For example, offer annual bonuses based on years of service, increase paid time off annually, or offer other perks like paid subscriptions, gift cards, or better parking spaces. 


Start by talking to employees to understand what kinds of things would motivate them to remain with your organization and build a loyalty program from there. 


6.   Study your competition to build appealing jobs 


Opportunities are certainly abundant for job seekers, which means talented workers can be especially picky about where they go to work. 


Business leaders should regularly research and evaluate what other companies in their industries and geographic areas are offering in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions. Try to find ways to match the competition or emphasize things that your company has to offer that the others do not. 


7.   Foster two-way feedback 


Employees need to feel that their needs are being heard, but they also crave personalized feedback so they can improve their skills and meet workplace expectations. 


Begin by assessing how your organization collects and communicates feedback. 


Employees should have adequate opportunities to talk to supervisors and share their thoughts without fear of retaliation. Surveys and regular check-ins can offer valuable insight into how your workers are feeling. 


On the management side, supervisors should have time to sit down with each member of their teams to discuss recent performance, professional goals, and upcoming projects. These one-on-one meetings can be an important time for both managers and employees to talk through any issues before they turn into larger problems. 


8. Consider the effects of growth and innovation on workers


Business leaders often strive to be on the cutting-edge in their respective industries, but that often puts more pressure on employees who are expected to carry out much of the work. 


MIT research also revealed that companies that prioritized high levels of growth and innovation were more likely to see employees leave. So, while growth and innovation can certainly lead to long-term benefits for an organization, leaders should focus on setting attainable goals that won’t leave employees working around the clock. 


9. Offer lateral job opportunities


From time to time, a person may simply grow bored of their current job and seek out different professional experiences. 


Managers can use this as an opportunity to identify other roles within the company that could satisfy the worker’s desire for something new without necessitating a promotion or pay increase. 


Supervisors who communicate effectively with their reports and are able to quickly identify a lateral position will have a much easier time retaining workers. 


10. Host casual social events to boost company culture 


A strong company culture doesn’t necessarily need to be built within the walls of the office. 


Host company-sponsored social events for employees to mingle and connect in a more casual environment. Workplace friendships can boost morale and help employees feel more support from their peers. 



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