The Great Resignation – HR Strategy to Reduce Employee Turnover

After my fourth acquaintance told me they quit their job in six months, it got me thinking about the effects and thoughts behind what the market is now calling "The Great Resignation" and the impact it has on employee retention—a critical measurement to business success. Let’s dive deeper into the topic. 

What is the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation, also known as the “Big Quit,” is what economists call the voluntary resignations of large numbers of employees in 2021. Occurring primarily in the United States, employees are handing in their resignations across various industries and job levels, with technology, healthcare, and frontline-heavy sectors being hit particularly hard. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September 2021.

While the reasons employees quit are often deeply personal, some common themes are emerging, such as burnout, career change, work-life balance, flexibility, and a higher salary. The pandemic caused many people to not only burn out at an accelerated rate but to reassess their personal and work lives and take a hard look at the legacy they want to leave on the world, in other words, if their job or career matched their sense of self or overall values. 

In the spring of 2021, when signs of the Great Resignation started appearing, many experts thought it was a “trend.” Then it became an “ongoing trend.” Now, economists call the Great Resignation a movement or even a cultural shift. We’re beginning to hear rumblings that the labor market will never return to “normal.”  Are you getting a headache yet? I mean, it’s hard to find any job candidates now, let alone great ones. This only increases the criticalness of a sound and perfected employee retention strategy. 

Employee Retention Strategies to combat The Great Resignation

Take a proactive approach to keep employee turnover at bay. Here are three tactics to help you combat The Great Resignation.

1. Identify the best applicants to hire and focus on them

Finding and hiring employees who will stay on the job for a long time is easier than you might think. When recruiting new employees, are your recruiters or hiring managers searching for employees based on skills, training, education, or even past experience? These characteristics are often assumed the best way to predict which employees will be successful. But are these truly the right employees?

The best employees are generally the employees who stay on the job the longest. They are the workers who become fully trained and gain experience with your specific business model and customer base. They’re the employees who have the knowledge and skills learned on the job. They’ve become confident and empowered and provide an excellent customer experience.

Dive into your current workforce and your best, longest-tenured employees to uncover why they stay and what engages them. You can accomplish this through your current employee lifecycle data. If that data is unavailable or not easy to access, consider conducting stay interviews to uncover the answers. The key is finding the common characteristics, talents, and traits your best employees share.  

If this seems like an overwhelming task, consider using human resources technology built on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics to help you compile and make sense of your data. These programs quickly sort through your data, learn which characteristics your best employees share, and then identify future applicants to see if they also possess these characteristics.

Shared characteristics can include things like skills level, training completed, or something as simple as how far they live from your job site. Whatever the story is, your data can write it efficiently. 

Once you understand the type of employee who fits your business best and performs at a higher level, your recruiters and hiring managers can focus on these candidates. This will improve your overall workforce and naturally lower turnover. You’ll have fewer empty shifts and fewer positions to fill, reducing hiring costs.

For example, we’ve been working with companies with high numbers of hourly workers for over 15 years now. As we’ve helped them improve their hiring processes, we noticed the need for hiring managers to quickly identify the high-quality candidates among all their applicants. Doing so would save the company money, the hiring managers time and improve employee productivity and engagement. Looking for a solution to help hiring managers led us to develop our decision support system, Cadient Decision PointTM. It uses machine learning to instantly pinpoint high-quality candidates so managers can focus on recruiting the right people into their workforce and stop wasting time on the wrong people.


2. Offer hourly employees flexibility in their schedules

Pay isn’t the only reason employees quit their jobs. Employer inflexibility is often listed among the top reasons employees leave an organization. This can mean inflexibility in scheduling their workdays – either the days of the week they work or even the hours their shifts start or stop. It could also mean inflexibility in scheduling leave days or taking time off to go to the doctor or other emergencies.

Hourly employees are often stuck in rigid schedules. But having a work-life balance is just as important for these workers as it is for the C-Suite. Inflexible schedules that make it hard for hourly employees to handle personal business and emergencies increase stress levels. This can and does lead to employee burnout.

If possible, offer flexible shifts and hybrid work options. Of course, this will depend on your business model. Hybrid work options are viable for hourly positions in customer service or other call center models. According to a 2017 study by FlexJobs, employees allowed to work remotely reported lower stress, improved health, wellness, and felt more loyalty towards their employer.

Giving employees access to their work schedules far in advance allows them to schedule appointments around their work hours. It also allows them to find other workers to fill in if they have a schedule conflict with an assigned shift. Giving your employees time to manage work and family demands will reduce stress, absenteeism, and turnover. Employees with flexible work schedules are more engaged, committed, and higher performing.

Offering flexible work schedules will also help your recruiting efforts in a competitive labor market.


3. Improve your employee experience

Engaged employees are happy with their jobs. They find pleasure, take pride in their work, and feel connected to the organization. Most of all, they believe their work is important and feel valued for their contributions. Studies have found that unengaged employees are 5x more likely to quit than highly engaged employees. 

The number one factor in employee experience? The manager or supervisor. According to a 2019 Gallop Study, employees who have a “partner-like” supervisor that fosters an atmosphere of trust and transparency are more likely to be engaged.

Many employees quit because of bad management. It’s important to provide your supervisors and managers with the skills, training, and directives to be good people managers. Show them how to cultivate relationships and trust with their direct reports. Have leadership model desired behaviors to create a culture of respect, inclusion, transparency, and approachability. Develop managers into coaches who can provide meaningful feedback to their direct reports. 

Wrap Up

Having large numbers of frontline hourly employees quit simultaneously is a major setback, especially in the retail, hospitality, and healthcare industries. Open positions and unfilled shifts negatively impact your customer experience and employee morale. If it goes on for a long time, it will cause you to lose more customers and more employees in a never-ending cycle. Eventually, it will impact your organization’s bottom line.

By using the three tactics discussed in this article to improve employee retention, you’ll have a stable, engaged workforce for the long term and maximize your employee retention strategy. 


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