Don’t Let Them Get Away!
The U.S. is experiencing the highest level of voluntary turnover in over a decade – a trend analysts expect to continue through the year.
A recent poll found almost 50% of the workforce is actively job hunting across all job categories – from front-line service workers to high level office professionals. This unique time in history has been coined “The Great Resignation” as millions of workers leave their jobs in pursuit of newly clarified priorities and passions.
The key to reversing “The Great Resignation” is to courageously commit to eliminate “The Great Disengagement” occurring in our workplaces.
While it’s prudent to actively recruit these talented job seekers, it’s critical to have a healthy workplace that retains them. Leaders have an opportunity to set the standard for Christian-led workplaces as the best (most effective, strategic, trusted, rewarding, collaborative and fun). The key to reversing “The Great Resignation” is to courageously commit to eliminate “The Great Disengagement” occurring in our workplaces.
The Danger of Disengagement
Disengagement remains the number one reason for employee turnover. The data is consistent with pre-pandemic surveys – one in five employees leave their jobs because of a toxic environment. Employee engagement is more than job satisfaction. It is the emotional commitment and connection the employee has to the organization.
Engagement is the measure of your culture’s health. Focusing on culture health increases an organization’s ability to retain high-performing employees, which has a direct correlation to organization growth and mission impact. Engagement data from the Best Christian Workplaces Institute shows that 56 percent of employees at Christian-led organizations are engaged. A study of flourishing organizations (those with the highest level of engagement) reveals consistent, internal practices that build trust, strengthen strategic alignment, create job clarity, and encourage collaboration and innovation.
Flourishing organizations use multiple feedback vehicles to glean timely and comprehensive information on their employees needs. Before rushing to implement a new program or policy, take time to listen and learn from your employees. Inviting the staff’s input prior to decision-making will build trust, buy-in and build culture. Flourishing organizations schedule these disciplines in their organization’s calendar.
Staff engagement survey. Invite staff to participate in an annual survey. Similar to an annual physical with your doctor, engagement survey results provide specific and actionable data to strengthen your culture. The data can uncover surprising causes for disengagement prior to strategic planning. Consider a trusted third-party to administer an anonymous survey, which increases participation and transparency.
Exit interviews. Departing employees have a valuable perspective on the culture of the organization. Invite transitioning staff to a brief, formal interview to learn more about their experience and hear their recommendations for positive change.
Once you had objective data, consider implementing some of these retention strategies employed by engaged organizations.
Engage mid-level leaders.
Managers play a critical role in retention because they are the conduit between your leadership and the frontline workforce. Gallup concluded that it would take more than a 20% pay increase to lure away an employee from a fantastic manager. Continuous communication and connection to mid-level leaders increases engagement. When managers are involved and informed on decisions that affect their teams, they will naturally convey more trust and confidence. Regularly train and equip managers with organizational best practices and culture enhancing tools.
Connect each individual to the mission of your organization.
Employees will work without perks, but they can’t work without purpose and promise. Your employees want to contribute to a mission with meaning and impact. When work is life-giving, employees can’t imagine doing another kind of work or working at any other organization. Regularly remind your staff of the mission and how each role connects directly to the objectives and outcomes. Connect your employee’s responsibilities and goals to real stories of organizational influence.
Consider the impact this personalized note from a senior leader to a member of the cleaning team:
“Thank you for creating a distraction-free environment where our guests can encounter the goodness of God. Yesterday, we had 100 people gathered to receive food and hear the gospel in the room you cleaned. You are a valued member of our team, and we are grateful for your service.”
Create workplace flexibility.
The pandemic prompted many organizations to expand and improve their flexibility and wellness offerings. Seven out of ten employees want their company to make work permanently flexible and supportive in terms of schedule and location. Extending flexibility communicates a high degree of compassion and trust. Explore creative solutions to meet your organization’s outcomes and employee’s needs. Explore implementing creative hybrid work schedules, flexible or condensed workdays, shared shifts, and stress management programs.
Invest in employee development.
Employees want to grow and contribute at greater levels but need to see a path within their current organization. Employee development is a win-win situation. You help your employees gain the skills they need so they’re motivated to stay at your organization. In turn, you have a strong pipeline of internal candidates who you know to be both a skill fit, and culture fit.
Consider building an internal development framework that envisions and equips staff to grow in multiple directions: up, down, deep and wide. Rewarding growth occurs through on-the-job training, mentorship, classroom settings and online forums.
Communicate value through compensation and total rewards.
Compensation may not be the reason an employee stays with your organization, but it may be a reason they choose to leave. Clearly communicating your compensation philosophy and consistently implementing it across the entire organization demonstrates fairness and integrity. At the same time, a rewarding compensation package is more than base pay. In addition to traditional benefits (healthcare, retirement, paid-time-off) many employers offer additional supportive elements such as childcare reimbursement, tuition reimbursement, fitness center discounts, technology stipends, and professional training/certification.
Consistent, positive communication of the entire total rewards package increases understanding, appreciation and engagement. Consider providing an annual statement that highlights the tangible and intangible rewards and benefits of working at your organization.
Tara VanderSande is the Senior Talent and Engagement Consultant at the Best Christian Workplaces Institute. She has expertise in best practices that increase employee and volunteer engagement, managerial competence, and organizational outcomes.
Tara VanderSande will lead a workshop entitled “Don't Let Them Get Away! 2022 Retention Strategies” at The Outcomes Conference 2022, April 26-28, Louisville, KY (Register today!)
Hear more on this topic from Best Christian Workplaces Institute via The Flourishing Culture Podcast interview with Kelly Kannwischer, CEO of Younique, “Discovering Your Unique Calling Leads to Deeper Fulfillment at Work” – LISTEN