How to Support Employees Who Stay During the Great Resignation

  • Author: Meghan Stewart

For a while now, the Great Resignation has captured the attention of employers large and small, as record numbers of employees across the U.S. have voluntarily left their jobs. In 2021, an average of four million employees quit their jobs each month, more than in any other year since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking that data.

Though the trend signals continued resignations across several industries, prompting a step-up in recruiting efforts, it’s also critical to support employees who stay. After all, the employees who remain are the ones who will provide the continuity necessary to maintain productivity and keep critical projects on track.

Supporting employees amid the Great Resignation isn’t just important to your retention efforts. It can also help you provide a more meaningful employee experience to your existing workforce. Take the following actions to ensure you don’t overlook the employees who stay:

1. Listen to and Address Employee Pain Points

Just because an employee hasn’t resigned doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it. Research shows that many are considering a job change. A recent McKinsey survey revealed that 40 percent of employees said they were thinking of leaving their job in the next three to six months.

While there are many reasons employees may be considering a move, some are related to their experiences at work. Whether it’s their day-to-day work or relationships with others, these experiences can sway an employee’s decision to leave or stay. Therefore, it’s essential to look for ways to make improvements. Before employees leave, be proactive by asking what’s on their minds and why they’re staying. By asking these questions, you can find ways to address their concerns and potentially avoid more resignations.

2. Provide More Opportunities for Employees to Connect

The less connected employees feel to their work, coworkers, and the organization, the easier it may be to walk away. However, by strengthening employee connections, you can bind employees to the organization and create reasons for them to want to stay. By holding frequent one-on-ones with employees and encouraging team activities such as charitable events and task forces, you create more opportunities for employees to get to know each other and bond over shared experiences.

3. Offer Opportunities to Stretch and Grow

When other employees are leaving, new opportunities open up. This is a perfect time to think about growth opportunities for those who remain. For example, you can elevate a team member to backfill a manager instead of hiring a direct replacement. You can also offer existing managers a chance to take on the management of an additional team. Just be sure to make it clear there is a path to promotion, not just the addition of job responsibilities. When employees see opportunities to fulfill their career aspirations in their current role (rather than just get more work), they may not see the need to seek growth opportunities elsewhere.

4. Be Sensitive to the Daily Realities of Employees

Not surprisingly, a rising number of resignations combined with a competitive job market can result in being short-staffed. As a result, employees who pick up the workload left by a departing co-worker can become frustrated and burned out. This is a perfect time to express gratitude to your remaining employees. While it’s essential to show appreciation all the time, making a special effort during challenging times can make a sizable impact. Even if you show appreciation regularly, recognizing employee contributions when you’re short-staffed helps to build a stronger sense of team and keep employees motivated.

Being short-staffed doesn’t have to result in overworked and stressed-out employees. In addition to showing empathy and appreciation, you can offer employees additional support to help them manage their workload successfully. Some examples include:

  • Adding temporary support via contingency workers
  • Restructuring teams for greater efficiency
  • Offering employees’ time off between projects

Backfilling employees who leave and supporting employees who stay won’t always be easy. And in a competitive job market, it can certainly feel like an uphill battle. Truthfully, sometimes employees will leave despite your best efforts. But by taking proactive steps to support employees who stay, you may be able to drive higher engagement and their desire to remain with your organization.

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