When Everyone’s in the Desert – Give Shade

When Everyone’s in the Desert – Give Shade


In this period of supply shortages and employee turnover, there is a surplus of one thing: uncertainty. Everyone seems willing to offer their solution to the “Great Resignation,” but it’s such an unprecedented phenomenon that historical employee retention theories and data are hard to apply. Something will work eventually – but until then we are all wandering in a desert of uncertainty, waiting for water.

How Can Companies Stem The Resignation Tide?

Until that solution comes, firms need to provide their employees some shade in the form of transparency and reassurance. It’s impossible to go online without running into a list of strategies for dealing with the Great Resignation, but updating a compensation package or defining your corporate culture can be costly and take time: time in which your competitors are jumping through hoops to recruit your best people.

While your company considers these big-swing strategies, don’t forget to let your employees know that you want them to stay. We talk a lot about how disruptive changes in workforce attitudes have been for employers, but employees are feeling the disruption too.

One-on-one time with employees is crucial to keeping up on the ways your employees’ experience may deviate from the corporate culture you think you have.  The writing about the resignation uses the phrase “retention interviews,” or “stay interviews” as something that businesses can conduct right away – many have been for months – to gauge employee satisfaction and gather input on things the company can do better.

A boss speaks one-on-one with an employee

What Do Retention Interviews Need to Cover?

These interviews should be about listening, and there are a few questions that really need to get answered. Ask employees what you’re doing right – despite the resignation phenomenon, the folks you’ll be talking to are the ones who’ve stuck around. Why have they stayed, and how long are they planning to?

You also need to know what you may be doing wrong. Employees may have insight on why former co-workers left or if a particular manager or department is creating a toxic environment. Your compensation package may have a deficiency for employees a few years in or not properly account for the new costs of a hybrid workplace.

Perhaps most importantly, this is an opportunity to ask employees if they see a future with your company and what they would like their future to be. Do they feel stagnant in their current role or have skills that they feel aren’t being utilized? Do they see – or want – a path to advancement? One-on-one time with employees can provide transparency in both directions.

Before You Do More, Find Out What More Should Be

It’s worth noting, one of the most attractive aspects of conducting retention interviews is – they don’t require spending much money. Talking to each employee one-on-one takes some time to be sure, but otherwise uses resources your company already has at its disposal. And the payoff can be huge. These interviews make employees feel valued as part of the restructuring process. They know that tectonic changes are happening, and they will appreciate being part of a company that is being purposeful in taking action.

The findings you gather from those interviews also give your company a solid footing from which to confidently step forward. There are a lot of potential approaches to take when trying to improve retention, but targeting the areas your employees prioritize lets you set your restructuring up for success while avoiding throwing costly darts at the proverbial wall.

People working together

Surely Employees Want More Than Just a Talk…

Long-term employee retention in a post-pandemic world is going to require the letting-go of a lot of conventional wisdom. One consistent thing that employee satisfaction research reveals is that “Purpose” is going to continue to grow in importance to tomorrow’s workforce. Evolving your corporate culture so that every facet of your company and brand is informed by purpose – including employee experience – isn’t going to happen overnight.

But if your firm is considering taking those steps, making your employees a part of that process might mean the difference between talented workers jumping ship or staying on. The Great Resignation is a result of a collective realignment of career goals and life priorities that will be rippling through our society for the foreseeable future. Show your employees that you’re aware of that.

The job market has become an employee’s market, and the people working for you know it. As you allocate resources toward recruitment, use stay interviews as an opportunity to treat your best employees as new hires before they feel like their chances to grow at your company have dried up and tumbled away.  Use the resources you already have to let them know you want them to stay; and collect their insights on how to make your workplace the best it can be. Water is coming; until it does, offer shade.

Learn more about how to build a strong Employee Experience.

Now It’s Your Turn

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