How to Boost Top-Talent Retention in a Super-Competitive Market—Even While the Great Resignation Rages On

September 27 2023 Posted by Zing Professional in Blog

The job market is undergoing a significant transformation driven by a powerful phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. And it’s more than just a post-pandemic phase after which the job market will return to baseline. We’re facing a substantial shift that’s causing employees in various industries to rethink their career paths, reconsider their priorities, and reevaluate their expectations from work. 

What truly matters to employees today is achieving a balance between their professional roles and personal lives (with a newfound resistance to having to sacrifice one for the other), securing opportunities for professional growth, and receiving fair compensation for their contributions. As the competition for exceptional talent continues to heat up, businesses are finding themselves at a critical juncture. They recognize that employee retention isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s an essential strategic move for long-term success. But you must first create an environment that makes your top performers want to stay.  

Here, we’ll dig into the factors driving the Great Resignation, the dynamics reshaping the job market, and why these changes are significant. Most importantly, we’ll equip your organization with the tools needed not only to weather this challenging job market, but to achieve better employee retention for years to come. 

Why Are People Still Quitting Their Jobs in Droves?

While everyone’s reasons for changing jobs or leaving the workforce will vary, there are a few themes across the driving forces of the Great Resignation. 

People Want Better Work–Life Balance—No, Seriously

Work–life balance has long been a term employers and workers throw around as a good thing if you can get it, but now, it’s a major driver behind the Great Resignation—especially after 2020. 

Pandemic experiences led some workers to reevaluate life priorities and reduce working hours or leave the labor force entirely. Employees are increasingly prioritizing the balance between their professional commitments and personal lives when making career decisions. The traditional concept of a 9–5 job is no longer the gold standard, as workers seek greater flexibility and control over their schedules. 

Remote work and flexible arrangements have emerged as key contributors to employee retention. Many individuals have discovered the benefits of working from home, which allows them to eliminate time-consuming commutes and better integrate their work with family life. 

They Don’t Just Want a Paycheck—They Want Career Advancement and Growth Opportunities

Another pivotal factor in the Great Resignation is the universal desire for career advancement and professional development. Employees are no longer content with simply clocking in and out—they crave opportunities for growth and advancement within their organizations. Career stagnation is a leading cause of attrition, prompting many employees to explore new horizons if their current job doesn’t provide a clear path upward. 

So, organizations that wish to retain their top talent must invest in career development programs. Initiatives like mentorship programs, ongoing training, and Individual Development Plans (IDPs) can go a long way. By demonstrating a commitment to nurturing the professional growth of their employees, businesses can create a work environment that not only retains talent, but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement. 

And of Course, They Want (and Deserve) More Money and Better Benefits

It’s no secret that good pay and great perks have always been important for keeping employees happy and hanging around. But with the Great Resignation, these things have become even more critical. People want to know they’re being fairly paid for their hard work, and if they feel they’re not, they’re more open than ever to checking out their other options.  

To retain top talent, organizations must keep their pay, benefits, and perks in line with what’s happening in the job market and what their employees expect. That means regularly checking how your salaries measure up to others in your industry. Plus, your benefits should be value-packed and easy to use. When your employees see that you’re making the effort to offer competitive pay, benefits like healthcare and paid time off, and those valuable perks that set you apart from the competition, it makes them more likely to stay put and stay motivated. 

So, How Can You Inspire People to Stay Put?

In the face of the Great Resignation, organizations must not only understand the causes of employee attrition, but also develop effective strategies for retaining their top talent.  

Here’s what you can do to keep your star employees happy, motivated, and committed to your organization.

1. Enhance Employee Engagement

No surprise here: Happy employees are more likely to stay with your organization and contribute to its success. According to Gallup, a happy and engaged workforce shows that a happy workforce is absent 81% less of the time and is 14% more productive. 

To boost employee engagement, focus on building a work culture that values their wellbeing and job satisfaction. Encourage open communication, provide opportunities for feedback, and ensure that employees feel heard and appreciated. Recognize their contributions and milestones to foster a positive and motivating work environment. 

Additionally, offering programs that promote work–life balance, such as flexible schedules and wellness initiatives, can significantly impact employee engagement. When your team feels supported both personally and professionally, they are more likely to stay loyal and dedicated to your organization.

2. Implement Career Pathing and Development

As mentioned above, career growth and development are top priorities for employees. They want to see a clearly defined and exciting career path within their organization and opportunities for advancement. Career stagnation is often a leading cause of attrition, prompting employees to explore new opportunities when they feel their current job doesn’t offer substantial pathways for professional development and growth. 

To retain your top talent, we recommend not just promoting the idea of internal mobility and a culture of advancement, but also mapping out and implementing advancement plans within your organization.  

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Invest in robust career development programs and seek outside consultation if you’re unsure how or what.  
  • Establish mentorship initiatives that pair experienced employees with those looking to grow in their careers. 
  • Provide ongoing training opportunities in a variety of formats and a wide range of topics relevant to the individual goals of your team members. 

TL; DR: Employees need to know that their dedication and hard work can lead to career progression, i.e., more money, more responsibility, and the chance to have a greater influence over individuals and the organization at large. By creating a culture of continuous improvement and development, you can not only retain your talent, but also cultivate a workforce that’s committed to your organization’s long-term success.

3. Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements

A whopping 81% of employees said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.  

Remote work has proven to be a game-changer for many individuals, allowing them to eliminate long commutes and better integrate work with personal life. 

Worried about drop off in productivity? First, take comfort in knowing that’s not really a thing—especially if you’ve hired the right people and fostered a high-performing culture in the first place.  

Study after study has shown that productivity from home is as good or better than when people are required to go to the office. With fewer distractions, less time getting office-ready and sitting in traffic, the ability to work rather than take a day off when the kids are sick—all of this reinforces the fact that the American office-based workforce demonstrated in spades that we simply don’t need to go to an office to be productive, collaborate, and get results.

The secret to effective remote or hybrid work arrangements lies in effectively implementing and managing flexible work policies. By ensuring that the right tools and technologies are in place to support remote work seamlessly and encouraging open communication and trust between managers and employees, these arrangements can work successfully for all.  

The Value of Doubling Down on Communication and Feedback

In addition to the three strategies we covered above, effective communication and feedback are vital components of retaining top talent in the era of the Great Resignation and beyond. 

Promote Open and Transparent Communication 

Gone are the days of employees accepting a closed-off company culture. Now more than ever, employees want to feel connected to broader organizational goals and understand how their individual contributions fit into the big picture. To achieve this, organizations should maintain clear lines of communication. Encourage an open-door policy where employees can voice their concerns, ideas, and suggestions without fear of a backlash. 

Effective communication also entails sharing company updates and developments regularly. When employees are kept informed about changes, challenges, and successes, it not only instills a sense of trust, but also empowers them to make more informed decisions in their daily work.  

Establishing forums for group discussions, feedback sessions, or anonymous suggestion (in)boxes or digital surveys can facilitate this open dialogue, making employees feel heard and valued. 

But transparency shouldn’t stop there—it should extend to the why behind your organization’s decisions, too. When employees understand how decisions are reached, they’re more likely to support the organization’s objectives.  

Dish Out Performance Feedback Regularly

Employees thrive on recognition and constructive feedback.  

To make this happen, encourage managers to provide regular one-on-one sessions with their team members. These meetings should focus on both accomplishments and areas for growth. Emphasize the importance of timely recognition. Celebrate achievements, milestones, and exceptional performance.  

Public recognition can be especially motivating, as it effectively reinforces the value of hard work. However, it’s essential to consider individual preferences before opting for this approach. Everyone has their own way of appreciating praise, and for some, public displays of recognition may not be their preference. It’s best practice to have one-on-one conversations with employees to understand how they prefer to receive acknowledgment before putting them in the spotlight for public recognition. 

By creating a culture of appreciation and feedback, you’ll notice an uptick in employee motivation and engagement, job satisfaction and morale, and a culture of cooperation and teamwork. 

In the Wake of Change, Embrace Your Opportunity to Grow and Succeed (With Zing’s Support)

Rather than seeing the Great Resignation as a challenge, forward-thinking organizations like yours can view it as an opportunity for growth, evolution, and a chance to meet the evolving needs of candidates. It’s not just about improving their lives but also securing the future of your organization. 

As we’ve explored the causes of the Great Resignation—the need for more work–life balance, the desire for career advancement, and the demand for competitive compensation—it’s clear that these are also the building blocks for a thriving and motivated workforce. Embracing this transformation means understanding that people place more value than ever on flexibility, growth, benefits and compensation.  

By investing in strategies that enhance employee engagement, career development, and flexible work arrangements, you can turn the Great Resignation into the Great Retention, and a catalyst for positive change. Your organization has the opportunity to create an environment where employees are not just retained but inspired to excel. This is how you ensure that you’re not just surviving but thriving in this increasingly competitive market.  

Consider this a prime opportunity to evolve, adapt, and create a workplace that attracts and retains top talent.  

Zing is here to support your organization in developing and implementing effective talent retention strategies. Contact us today to learn how we can help you embrace this opportunity to increase employee retention and secure the future of your organization.