Is it unfair to assume that employee needs have changed post-pandemic?

Likely not. We’ve all been impacted in one way or another despite what that looks like for each of us. The question is, how will these changes impact, organizations moving forward?

As organizations look to reimagine their return to the office, talent and employee retention challenges will be amplified.  

A key theme that stands out is the way we work. Employee needs haven’t changed to be more accommodating to their employers; they’ve evolved to be more supportive to a life where they can work to live instead of live to work. 

With strong desires surrounding flexibility and lifestyle changes being two priorities that stand out, it’s no wonder employers will need to rethink their retention strategy or create one if it didn’t exist pre-pandemic. 

Gartner’s research shows employees who are currently working remotely or have a hybrid arrangement, 75% say their expectations for working flexibly have increased.

Other studies have shown an increase in female workers leaving the job market due to the demands placed on them during the pandemic while other workers experienced burnout and fatigue that forced them to leave. 

While people leave for multiple reasons, there are many within an organization’s control to make the employee experience more satisfying and create less of a reason for employees to want to leave.

As you look at your current retention strategy post-pandemic, this shouldn’t be a way to convince people to stay. 

Employee retention is a strategy that starts very early on during the employee experience and motivates them to voluntarily commit to their employer while being productive and engaged.

Here’s what to consider when looking at your retention strategy post-pandemic: 

  1. Retention starts in the recruitment stage – employee retention begins the moment you start recruiting. In this case, employers who are actively hiring have a unique opportunity to think of retention during this stage. With all the desires employees have on their wish list, often they’re not shy to tell you what they want. Ask what’s important to candidates as they’re looking for their next opportunity and listen

2. Communicate upcoming employee changes early – as organizations plan or have already transitioned back to the office, communicate changes that directly impact employees early. Even if they are not fully confirmed or defined, providing little to no information on what impacts employees will have to look forward to can leave employees looking for a new home due to ambiguity or lack of transparency.

By now, the past year and a half should have been an informative one, to say the least. With mixed emotions about going back to the office, employees will be looking for support from the employers which will look different for everyone. The key is to communicate changes early and transparently.

3. Ask your employees what they need – there’s no better research than engaging your workforce directly. Simple I know and often overlooked. This overlaps with the suggestion above and should be considered before deciding what policies need to be created or redefined, even if they will support employees. You can still create strong policies that are important for the business yet don’t leave employees out of the equation. That shouldn’t be the basis of your policies especially as you consider getting employees to stay.

This also doesn’t suggest running with whatever feedback employees give needs, especially if it’s not feasible. Employees want to feel like their voices have been heard and they’re being cared for. Take the time to factor them into policy changes with their best interest in mind. 

4. Increase employee recognition – whether you have a formal recognition process in place or not, it doesn’t take much to recognize your employees and you can’t recognize them enough! As remote working has created separation in the physical sense of what a team environment can offer, employee recognition becomes even more important.

Create opportunities to recognize employees that work both in the physical office AND for remote employees. This starts with front-line level managers who have the greatest opportunity to engage with their employees and make them feel valued and appreciated.

You don’t have to wait for milestone achievements to offer recognition. Big and small opportunities should be considered when you think about employee recognition.  

The expectations and the needs of employees have changed. We’ve seen the changes during the pandemic and we’re seeing them post-pandemic. Organizations need to keep up with the change and meet employees where they are today while planning for the future and sustaining their business.

Give people a reason to stay and plan with their best interest at heart.

I’d love to know in the comments.

We’re often asking employees the reasons that made them leave an organization. What do you think your employees would say if you asked them why they stay? Let me know!

With so much appreciation,

Lisa

p.s. for more on employee retention pre-pandemic, check out my post on How to improve employee retention with these 7 strategies. The ideas are still relevant today!

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