Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Integration Edge
You kept your business solvent during the pandemic. Now vaccines are available and buildings are reopening. Both you and your workforce are deciding where to go from here. Pivots like switching the product you manufacture (e.g., making hand sanitizer instead of bourbon) or shifting your employees to working from home has not only burned everyone out, but also revealed work-life integration paradigm shifts. You need to both retain your current workforce and attract new employees, but how? This week, let’s focus on keeping the folks you have.
You regularly adapt your business to market conditions. This shift in the balance of power is a condition more abrupt than most, but it offers you a gift. It forces you to look at your mission, vision, values, policies, and procedures and sift them through the filter of The Platinum Rule. For example, employees hear the siren call of flexibility and autonomy in their jobs. Are your company’s paid time off policies amenable to employees with caregiving duties to young children, aging parents, chronically ill partners, etc.? If not, then it behooves you to reevaluate those policies. If your employees are being washed away by the Talent Tsunami, then you need to take a long, hard look at your company’s culture, protocols, and development paths. If your workforce was happy before the pandemic, then they would not be so tempted to leave now. You will be wise to shift your mindset to focus more on taking care of your employees and repeatedly communicating that commitment. People want to work in an environment where they feel valued. If your company has a vision the workforce can believe in, you coach them to share it, and demonstrate how their jobs are integral to realizing it, then employees get invested in meeting the company’s goals and want to stick around.
Engagement Brings Retention
The inconvenient truth is it’s cheaper to keep an employee than to hire a new one. If you don’t know what your employees need to achieve work-life integration, or to feel appreciated, now is the time to ask and actively listen to their answers. Individual contributors who feel they belong and have purpose are less likely to burn out. How do you know if your employees are burned out? Ask them. Company-wide email surveys are easy to create, send, and compile results. You can ask questions like: How do you think the company handled pivoting during COVID-19? How many days a week do you want to WFH? If the company reimburses you for upskilling, will you agree to work for us for a year? The answers will give you data that will not only help you to assess the risk of employees leaving, but also reveal what you can do to keep the good ones.
“Bye” the Way
Unless employees signed a contract saying they’d do one, they are not obligated to give exit interviews. A smart employee will not grant one if they don’t have anything nice to say. An exit interview is more of a benefit to you than to them. It’s an exiting employee’s gift of feedback to you. If the resigning employee grants one, stick to questions that will help you retain other employees. For example: What could the company have done to make it easier for your team to communicate with each other?
What are you doing to encourage your employees to join you in making your business succeed?