The Great Retention: How Businesses Can Reduce Employee Turnover

The Great Retention Vs The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation (TGR) is essentially a working title for a 2021 trend that showed workers quitting jobs and changing careers at inordinately high rates. TGR of course has roots in COVID-19. Initial lockdowns created opportunities for self-reflection on an industrial scale. Dissatisfaction with career paths, work conditions, leadership, culture, and lack of opportunity, were drawn into sharper focus for the masses. Following an initial inertia created by role insecurity at the height of COVID-19, a job and career change migration began to gather pace as lockdowns progressively abated.

For balance, the hypothesis behind TGR is not entirely black and white. However, a snapshot of the data that pervades the headlines shows open job roles growing to a record high of one million here in the UK (Aug 2021), with three out of four considering role changes in 2022.

While these figures correspond to tangible concerns like lost knowledge, fractured morale, decimated productivity, and inordinate recruitment costs, for organisations most impacted by TGR, they speak to questions at the very heart of workplace culture. To that point, Dale Carnegie research revealed that the key personal drivers behind departures came down to people ‘not being valued at work, leadership blind spots, and overall bad vibes.’

To crib a line from Albert Einstein ‘In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.’ According to a recent People Management article, the increased duties for those working in ‘people’ teams, such as rebuilding organisations, driving retention, leading hybrid environments, creating cultures rich in DE&I, and spearheading wellbeing, means that people professionals are more crucial than ever to high level organisational strategy.

Cultural pathways to improving retention

Listen and act: When asking for employee options, leaders must listen, value, and respect and act on what they hear. Recent Dale Carnegie research found that 49% of employees believe that their opinions won’t be taken into consideration. Thus, ‘we want to hear from you,’ must be more than a slogan. Leaders have the power to work wonders in helping teams feel valued, empowered, trusted and motivated by engaging in dialogue and making good on what they hear.

Improve social intelligence: Social intelligence (SI) is an elaborate description of getting along and interacting in a positive and effective way. Strong SI is underpinned by an ability to be exceptional connectors and communicators, with strong emotional intelligence (EQ) and an approach to relationships which is both collaborative and on the other person’s agenda. SI in leaders is attainable and strengthened by developing core people skills, coaching, and embedding leadership development frameworks with clear values and strong human relationship principles.

Intrinsic motivation and creativity: People want validation, encouragement, and freedom to learn from mistakes, just as much as they want added income. This in turn fuels intrinsic motivation. Workers who feel valued, confident, and empowered are more engaged. Our thought leadership team found: “Businesses can help encourage intrinsic motivation by connecting with employees on a personal level, engaging them to be more involved, and connecting their individual purpose to the company mission.”

Wellbeing: Wellbeing is no longer considered an employee benefit, rather an inherent part of the future workplace. In today’s business reality fewer people are doing more work, we’re challenged with achieving more but with fewer resources and less time.  Employers recognise that productivity can only be sustained if they take more care of their employee’s wellbeing.  Initiatives can make a short or long term difference to supporting healthy lifestyle, but a more sustainable effect can come from ongoing development of our leaders and our teams.

Great expectations: Abundance mindsets around our teams are crucial. We need to think of colleagues as talented people who are competent, quick to learn and qualified for their role. Trusted, employees, operating in a safe environment to learn from mistakes,  empowered to be creative, problem solve, will fuel confidence and intrinsic motivation.

Build a Culture of Engagement: No surprise here – highly engaged employees are not only happier and more productive, but they also stick around. Dale Carnegie research found that that leaders that make engagement a daily priority report a 64 % increase in retention.

Invest in and encourage development: With increased requirements to drive workplace transformation, L&D teams might just be commanding larger development budgets in 2022. ‘Soft skills’ are being quickly reframed as ‘power skills’ – and rightly so. Ongoing learning and role development are considered a crucial employee experience driver in 2022 and onwards.  So, line manager at all levels should ensure they coach and encourage around on career-pathing, upskilling, and attaining industry relevant qualifications.

The bottom line: Ultimately, people have sovereignty over their lives and careers. Inherent in the job description for leaders is developing people to be the very best version of themselves. Sometimes, that will mean supporting their onward journeys.

Within the current narrative, however, there exists a unique opportunity for leaders to transform their mindsets and their business cultures. In essence TGR represents a crystal-clear message for business and people leaders alike to do better and work harder for our employees, and to produce equitable, innovative, empowered, and healthy workplaces, where our people are placed at the heart of organisational success.

That way, we have the power to turn the Great Resignation into the Great Retention and transform our business culture into something beautiful.


How to Make Employee Engagement a Daily Priority

How Senior Leaders Create Successful Workplace Cultures