Employee Retention in The Great Resignation Era


    Originally Posted: HR Economictimes Indiatimes

    The Great Resignation is here, and it’s real. The pandemic has revealed the value of labor, worthlessness of commutes, importance of personal time, and increased workloads resulting in a shake-up of expectations from work.

    Peoples’ attitudes towards rest and work-life balance have now flipped resulting in resignations/dropouts that have peaked since April 2021, and have remained high since. Data from Xpheno indicates that dropout rates have been steadily increasing, particularly for startups; the dropout rate has more than doubled from 14-27 per cent last year and, we’re especially seeing high resignation/dropout rates in the technology, healthcare, and hospitality sectors.

    What makes this resignation era different is that never before have industries and functions - across the globe - witnessed something so monumental. Basic terms of employment and people’s expectations are truly undergoing a reset that has left an unpredictable mark on attitudes towards work. For example, in its recent survey Workers Preference Barometer for India, JLL India found that 91 percent of the respondents favoured flexible working hours. Additionally, nearly 80 percent of the respondents want to work from home at least once a week post-Covid.

    Effect of the Pandemic on Professional Lives

    The pandemic has accelerated the push outwards, i.e., migration to the suburbs and people’s native towns. Our office relationships have also dispersed; we are experiencing lesser connections with peers (especially for new joinees). Add to this a high-stress environment which has a direct impact on engagement levels and attrition rates.

    This has created a centrifugal moment, not just in India but also globally. People are willing to switch to companies which are offering them the perks and benefits of working from home permanently, among many other novel reasons.

    Another reason for the increasing talent demand surge which is leading to a skewed supply is because the subdued economy is growing back. Moreover, new positions/roles are emerging every day across organisations. This high demand has led to companies offering premium packages which has resulted in many jumping ships, and a massive rotation of talent across organisations and industries. Earlier this year, industry analysts anticipated a 22 per cent attrition rate in 2021, which works out to 1 million resignations on a projected base of 4.6 million IT employees in India.

    Creating Innovative Strategies to Drive Retention

    These trends highlight the importance of innovative strategies to drive retention, and many organisations are now leaning towards implementing people development practices that can positively impact the second phase of this cultural shift.

    Analytics doesn’t just help in identifying specific patterns among myriad reasons as to why people are leaving, but can also predict and suggest actions to be taken to retain valued employees. For instance, identifying behavioural patterns - with the use of data and analytics - can determine not just why and when an employee is about to leave an organisation but also suggest what can be done to retain that employee. Furthermore, mood/sentiment analysis can help visualise existing problems, draw inferences and predict future trends.

    Implementing Tailored Retention Strategies

    There is a need to revamp the employee value proposition (EVP), especially in a post Covid-19 scenario guided by insights from data as the needs and expectations of employees have changed.

    1) Hyper-personalisation

    By implementing tailored retention programmes with a focus on hyper-personalisation, companies can improve their people programmes. For instance, given the shift in the basic structure of allowances in the pandemic era, companies can introduce allowance benefits which enables employees to pick and choose what might work for them individually.

    2) Talent development and L&D

    When it comes to talent development and L&D strategies such as online programmes and learning tools, we are seeing a large adoption (post-pandemic) of e-learning, bite-sized learning and flexible/blended learning to suit employees’ interests and needs. By the virtue of L&D programmes having shifted online, the choices for programmes have significantly increased. Organisations are now less focused on designing learning programmes on their own and are rather curating/customising already available online programmes to suit their needs.

    3) Focus on measuring engagement levels of employees

    Remote work has led to little interaction beyond work and organisations are mindful about the same. There is a huge shift towards measuring employee engagement levels on a frequent basis and to act upon it. Pulse surveys, hence, have increased significantly to gauge the pulse of the entire organisation. Simple practices like being transparent with the results of surveys and then empowering team leads to decide and initiate surveys for their teams helps bring about greater ownership towards boosting employee engagement in the minds of team leads and supervisors.

    4) Rewards and recognition (R&R)

    In today's environment, when people are working remotely, it becomes difficult to appreciate your colleague's work over a cup of coffee; which is why it has become important to implement rewards and recognition programmes, and to do it right.

    However, simply enabling R&R through an online portal may not work. Be it social recognition, a candid chat with a senior leader, a personalised note from a manager, or monetary rewards - organisations need to put systems in place to understand what different people need and enable all kinds of recognition. Instead of quantity, the degree of personalisation in terms of rewards should be tracked.

    Currently, some of the challenges organisations are facing are related to not being able to implement social recognition through their R&R portals. Further, lack of feedback, congratulatory messages or the lack of personalised messages, are simple but neglected issues. Another challenge is that tech tools might not be properly integrated to ensure that there is high engagement on these platforms. R&R programmes also must be designed in a way to nudge peers/managers to recognise their teammates' efforts, ensuring a culture of recognition throughout the organisation.

    We are in the midst of a massive cultural shift, and it is essential that we continue to find innovative ways to unfold the underlying causes that are changing our relationship with work. We need a radical rethinking of all people's practices to truly embrace this change.

    The author, Asim Jamil, is Head of Human Resources at Polestar Solutions.

    We are in the midst of a massive cultural shift, and it is essential that we continue to find innovative ways to unfold the underlying causes that are changing our relationship with work. We need a radical rethinking of all people's practices to truly embrace this change.