Staff shortages are affecting business of all sizes and all industries, you may be familiar with the term “The Great Resignation”. It is a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to affect businesses today. The pandemic shifted daily life for many people. Flexible working became the norm for most the workforce. This shift to flexible working enabled people to spend more time with their family, and less time commuting, thus improving their work life balance.
This has led to a big cultural shift. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the rate of economic inactivity has declined since 1971. The rate of economic activity represents the number of people who are of active working age (i.e., 16 to 64 years old) who choose not to participate in the labour market. This changed during the pandemic, employee turnover was up, and more people were leaving their jobs. The unemployment rate and rate of economic inactivity both increased.
After the pandemic, the rate of unemployment has reset, but the rate of economic inactivity has not. The implication is that more people are now actively choosing not to stay in the work force. This phenomenon affects all age groups, but its impact is sharpest in people over fifty. Amongst those over fifty, the increase in economic inactivity is seen across various class positions, educational backgrounds, and types of employment. It is worth nothing that this decreased in the last three months to October 2022 but does not mean that the phenomenon is any less significant. If the Great ‘Unretirement’ is happening, firms need to think through how they are going to attract top talent to work for them, in an otherwise tight job market. There also lessons to be learnt around employee retention.
What can we do to mitigate against a culture of resignation?
So, what can employers do to retain their top talent? According to one study, investment in personal development and clear progression opportunities came in a close second to salary, when respondents were asked what they look for from an employer.
However, in uncertain economic times, businesses can be reluctant to invest in things like staff training, not seeing it as a top priority. But what is the cost of replacing your top talent? Another study by the Society for Human Resource Management found it can cost up to 6-9 months’ salary when you factor in recruitment and training costs. So, rather than spending an exorbitant amount on talent attraction and recruitment, let's have a look at four ways you can improve your talent retention through employee development.
Develop a robust onboarding process
To fight against the Great Resignation and attract top talent, employers should have a robust onboarding process that involves comprehensive training. It can be tempting to have new employees hit the ground running. They are often thrown in at the deep end; however, taking the time to provide thorough induction and training will ensure your new employees feel valued and are less likely to make mistakes.
Don't forget remote workers as well. It can certainly be more difficult to induct remote workers, so ensure you have a detailed training plan that incorporates all workers.
Don't ignore work-life balance
Work-life balance is key for a lot of top-talent. People over fifty have lots of experience to bring to the bear, but employers need to make sure that they invest in their employees. This can be through short training programmes, opportunities for reskilling and the chance to make a meaningful difference.
Effective communication is key to your business’ success
Do you know what career aspirations your employees have? Whether they have been with the business for one week or one decade, it's essential you know what their long term goals are. Employees who are listened to and supported to achieve their goals are more engaged, productive, and motivated.
Start implementing six-monthly or yearly reviews to establish how employees feel, where they want to go, what training is required and any other issues that can be resolved. For employee retention, firms’ priority must be to create a culture where employees feel they can approach senior staff and speak up without waiting for a scheduled review.
Why is coaching so effective?
An effective manager is someone who can get the best out of the people they are leading, not through fear or control but through coaching and mutual respect. Invest in management training to ensure your managers can effectively lead their team. Ask them to have weekly or monthly catchups with their team (not long 1-2-1's, just a quick 10-minute conversation) and ask questions such as:
What are you enjoying about your role?
What are your wins for this week/month?
What are you finding challenging?
What can we do to improve the environment?
On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you?
How do you feel about the overall morale around you?
What's one thing you would change about your place of work?
These short conversations not only help you identify any issues that may be arising but also ensures employees feel seen, heard, acknowledged, and validated.
Why investing in your employees is an investment in your future success
Employees do not just exist as a part of your business; they are human beings. And to grow professionally, they must grow personally as well. This means there should be opportunities to develop both intellectually and emotionally.
The London Business School warns employers that the job market is tight and competitive, a failure to offer opportunities for meaningful development to their employees will mean that top talent goes elsewhere.
Providing relevant external and internal training, webinars, reading material, digital learning or giving each employee a personal development budget to source their own training will help them stay up to date with industry skills and knowledge and give your business a competitive edge.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of employee well-being. Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees are not feeling overwhelmed or suffering burnout.
Investing in training Mental Health First Aiders, holding team-building events, and creating an "open-door" culture where employees feel safe to discuss how they are feeling are just a few ways you can help the emotional development of your employees.
Other things you can do include encouraging employees to switch off completely when they leave the office or finish work for the day and stressing the importance of self-care.
Give employees the tools they need to do their jobs, listen to them, ensure they feel valued and give them opportunities to grow, and in return, employees will be more productive, motivated, inspired, and loyal. Furthermore, fostering a reputation for excellent employee experience will ensure you continue attracting and retaining the brightest and best talent for your business.
Supportive Solutions provide bespoke training and accredited courses ranging from vocational training to personal development and wellbeing. So, if you're looking for an exceptional training partner that can help you get the best from your employees, contact us today to see how we can help you retain your staff.