Employee retention should be a priority


As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes with more people becoming fully vaccinated, its debilitation of the American economic activity is already fading away. One sign of this economic reopening is an increase in job-seeking – multiple surveys all show a broad pent-up desire to find new employment.

The pandemic spurred this desire to leave in many ways. First, a Pew Research poll last year showed a third of employees reported a compensation reduction during the pandemic – likely that percentage is higher today. An SHRM study in April 2021 indicated 82% of employees thought the pandemic affected their retirement plans. The bottom line of all these trends is that multiple surveys show that half of the American workforce is seeking new employment right now.

Consequently, companies emerging from this economic slowdown now face the prospect of losing key employees who were being counted on to be major players in the recovery. Clearly, a renewed focus on retaining employee retention must be a crucial short-term strategy to maintain a competitive advantage in 2021.

Grant Thornton’s recent webcast, “Strengthening the new deal with your workforce” explores this issue, offering ways to create an employee retention strategy to reduce the impacts of flight risk on recovery and growth. Below are some highlights of what is more fully developed in the free webcast.

Evaluating how to attract and retain talent to a workplace must begin with an understanding of emerging talent risks and how the shift in time and resource allocations impacts the relationship that an organization has with its workforce. “If an organization failed to expand the breadth and depth of internal capabilities needed to manage its human capital risk, the overall effectiveness of existing workforce programs and engagement with the workforce was diminished” said Bob Lemke, director of human resources and compensation consulting at Grant Thornton.

Lemke emphasized the need to review existing workforce programs and human capital governance processes to apply the lessons learned in the early stages of the COVID-19 response and the patterns that may have emerged from the later phases. “These will help organize retention strategies around a new foundation” Lemke said.

Tim Glowa, principal of Human Capital Services for Grant Thornton, points out a couple of important measurements that companies must emphasize so as to better “measure up” to their competitors.

  • Pay equity: “Make sure that our pay is fair across all different groups,” Glowa said. Conducting regular reviews of broad-based employee compensation arrangements improves alignment to longer-term objectives and identifies potential human capital risks, especially legacy practices that fall short of elevated expectations around transparency when sharing information about human resources and workplace programs.
  • Benefits packages: “If we’re essentially offering the same package as people that we’re competing against, why would any employee stay with us and not go somewhere else?” Glowa said. Too often, organizations aim to be in the middle of the pack with their peers when it comes to organizational benefits, and these were often frozen or reduced during the pandemic. Make benefits a differentiator.
  • Analytics: Take the guesswork out of consideration by using data-based recommendations. Like marketers have recently done, human resources departments have opportunities to apply analytics and gather more predictive data to identify high-risk areas to forecast individual employees who might be at flight risk for leaving.
  • Structured two-way communication: Set up and systematize was to listen to employees’ concerns and their ideas for solutions. This can easily be done by creating focus groups and instituting monthly surveys, through which a company can have frequently updated insights on issues of concern among its employees.
  • Flexible workplace: The ability to work remotely, brought on by necessity during the pandemic, seems to be a change that many employees want to embrace permanently. Retaining hybrid work structures that ensure the flexibility to choose where to work should be a high priority for companies that can support online work.

An evaluation of your company’s ability to retain its employee talent and create an effective plan can lead to complex considerations which could be helped by outside advisers familiar with these issues. But its complexity shouldn’t be a deterrence. Companies thrive by hiring and retaining talented employees and doing so needs to be a top consideration for businesses poised to recover strongly in our post-pandemic economy.






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