Are you feeling the pressures of the record high number of job vacancies, standing at 1,102,000 in the UK in the last 3 months? As we emerge from the uncertainties of the pandemic, and people grow in confidence to enter the job market, competition for skilled staff is predicted to become much fiercer. So how can you maximise your chances of retaining your existing employees, and avoid a lot of churn in what is being predicted as a forthcoming turnover tsunami.
According to a recent Randstad UK survey, 69% of 6,000 workers asked were feeling confident about moving to a new role in the next few months, with 24% planning a change within three to six months. This “Great Resignation” period has been accelerated by burnout post-pandemic, as “some teams have been running too hot for too long,” says Victoria Short, CEO at Randstad UK.
Whether you’re worried about staff burnout, or simply that your employees may be feeling more detached from your company culture because of working from home for much of the pandemic, how can you get things back on track and avoid costly and unsettling churn amongst your teams?
Clearly, competitive salaries and employee benefits are important, but this won’t be the only answer, especially for smaller companies, who have to look at other more creative solutions to remain competitive. Here at citrus HR, we’re focused on practical ways for you to retain the people you want in your organisation at this critical time, and here’s an action plan to apply to your own specific situation.
Find out what your staff think
Getting a general sense of how your employees are feeling at work is a good place to start, but it can be difficult to get this information directly, especially if a member of staff is feeling unhappy or disgruntled, or if lots of your employees are still working largely from home.
One way to make sure you are keeping an eye on staff morale is to have regular pulse surveys which are quick to fill in and can be set to allow anonymous replies. If you do this regularly, you can build up a picture over time, and use this to spot any trends that need addressing, at an early stage.
You can also use your one-to-ones with staff on a regular basis to spot any individual concerns that someone may have. It is really worth investing the time to set up one-to-ones on a regular basis – it gives you a structured route for helping keep your employees engaged and motivated.
Being particularly sensitive to possible burnout at the moment is important. This may be caused, for example, by a heavy and prolonged workload during the pandemic, or the effects of Covid-19 on someone’s personal life, especially if they have caring responsibilities.
You may be facing increased numbers of flexible working requests, as employees make the adjustment to returning to the office, having been accustomed to working from home. You may be thinking about adopting a hybrid working policy across your organisation to make working from home in part a default option. Taking soundings from staff as to whether they would like to adopt hybrid working, or other flexible working options, if they are practical for your organisation, will be really important. In these situations, being able to create a custom survey quickly and easily, to help you gather that information centrally, can be key.
Look at ways to accommodate a better work life balance
The government has picked up on the increasing interest of many people in becoming more flexible in the way they work, and is currently consulting on whether to make flexible working a default right from day one.
Staying ahead of this curve, and looking at ways in which you might be able to accommodate the different needs and preferences of the people you employ, may well help give you that competitive edge and help to reduce quick churn after someone news starts.
If you are considering introducing hybrid working arrangements, we recommend that you establish minimum levels that you will apply across your organisation, and set these out in a comprehensive hybrid working policy, so that all staff understand how they can take advantage of any flexibility you are offering.
If you don’t then need employees to have dedicated workstations, you could move to a hot-desking arrangement, and having practical help like a desk booking tool will make this much simpler to organise. It’s also worth looking longer term at your accommodation needs and whether you can reduce your current space over time.
If you’re dealing with individual flexible working requests, perhaps to vary hours to deal with childcare responsibilities, try to be consistent in how you respond to them, and having an up-to-date flexible working policy, setting out how you will deal with this will help. Often an informal discussion between you and your employee will produce a working plan that you’re both happy to try, even on a trial basis at first.
Say thank you
Here at citrus HR we never under-estimate the power of saying thank you to staff who’ve done a good job.
There are a number of different ways you can think about doing this. Why not encourage your staff to nominate an Employee of the Month and when you’ve decided who to celebrate, publicise and reward the person chosen?
Many companies are also trying to increase the level of social interaction, especially when Covid-19 restrictions have reduced the level of face-to-face contact amongst employees for so long. Can you organise a social event, even just involving smaller teams rather than everyone, at first? If you want to know how staff would prefer to do this, you can always add another custom survey to gauge support.
And are there other perks that you can offer at your workplace to say thank you to people for making the journey in, whether it’s fresh fruit or cakes in the office, or just some decent coffee?
Using regular one-to-ones and annual appraisals to grow and develop staff can really help with retention and reduce churn. Taking the time to go through what’s working well, and whether there are areas where you can try to support improvement, can increase levels of engagement. Having clear goals and a potential career progression path, where possible, will hopefully help employees think longer term about the benefits of staying with you.
Having good employment policies in place, particularly ones like a mental health and wellbeing policy, which can help people to recognise the signs of stress and point them towards resources, can help staff feel well-supported. And having a culture of openness about these sorts of issues can really make a difference.
Publicise your company culture
And when you have strategies like those we’ve highlighted above in place, it’s important to publicise them, and keep in regular communication with your employees, to check if anything might need to change.
If you have a set of company values, you may want to check how any changes you’re proposing may affect them, and include reference to them in your dialogue with employees.
And improving and publicising your company culture may also increase your success in attracting strong candidates when you do need to recruit. Just competing on salary and benefits alone in the current market is very likely to get much tougher, especially for smaller businesses.
Do you have concerns about employee churn? Or need more guidance on staff retention? Get in touch on 0333 014 3888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org friendly, for more information about our expert HR services.
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