Worried about the Great Resignation? Prioritize Employee Engagement

by Pranav Ramesh
February 15, 2022

Having spent her entire career working in the HR department of a global insurance company, Prisha Krishnamoorthy was recently promoted to vice-president, at a time when the climate at HR is at it’s most challenging. Employees are departing en masse and she’s noting record numbers of vacancies in the data science and service areas of the company. Now, just as she begins to settle into her new role, Prisha is facing a massive challenge—how can I boost engagement and keep turnover to a minimum, at a time when employees all over the world are resigning in droves.  

Prisha is not alone in facing these challenges. Across the US, employees are leaving jobs in record numbers as salaries stagnate and employee satisfaction remains low. Employers need to better understand what employees want from their work environments. Previously, employee retention could be measured by a simple, single statistic. Now, many experts measure retention as the efforts an employer makes in an attempt to retain employees in their workforce. Prisha decides to tackle the problem holistically with the intention of improving employee retention and engagement company-wide.  

 

Understanding why employees move on

Poor employee retention should be examined with the same tools that guide other important decision-making processes. Employee retention must be acknowledged as a real problem in order to be fully addressed.  

Prisha knew better than to rely on assumptions as to why people were leaving. Instead, she and her team poured over the data from the most recent employee satisfaction survey and every exit interview from the last two years. Certain themes began to emerge. Employees and former employees believed salaries to be lagging behind what competitors offered. They also criticized the lack of ability to advance within the company.  

Another major theme she noticed was a general feeling that the company didn’t care about employees as people. Prisha understood that modernizing the company’s attitude towards employee retention and engagement was essential. She knew that in order for her plan to be successful, she needed buy-in from other VPs. Armed with data, an abundance of open positions, and the partnership of the VP of diversity, equality, and inclusion, Prisha now had the backing at the executive level to start addressing employee retention in a meaningful way.  

 

Don’t let money be the issue

One of the first and most obvious considerations for employers should be the fair and equitable compensation of employees, both within the company and across the industry. For many companies, hiring an outside firm to perform salary equity studies can provide valuable data about your company’s salary bands while trying to address inequities. The reports are also useful to begin remediation and salary adjustments.  

By partnering with the VP of DEI, Prisha was able to hire an external firm to perform salary equity studies. This would provide Prisha with a starting point as she began to determine how to rectify significant imbalances. She knew that custodians, cafeteria workers, and other service employees were walking away from their jobs at the current wage offered. One of her first priorities was to ensure these lowest-paid employees were now paid a living wage per hour. She also got approval to improve health care benefits and eliminated the 30-day waiting period for these employees to become eligible for insurance. Because the payment of service employees had stagnated for so long, Prisha also proposed a one-time bonus to attempt to improve retention.   

But according to the Udemy 2018 Employee Experience Report, “Employee experience is about people and environment, more than job function or healthcare benefits or even salary. Frustrated workers will burn out and disengage from companies that fail to build an environment that supports their growth.” Low wages and poor benefits often aren’t the driving forces that cause employees to flee. Feeling unsupported, unchallenged, and unappreciated will cause employees to jump ship even faster.  

 

Supporting employee retention through engagement

The modern workforce has made it known that the traditional model of managing employees no longer works. In order to retain employees and keep them engaged, employers must commit to a new approach. They must incentivize loyalty, provide opportunities for professional growth, and embrace all the flexibility that technology allows. If employees feel their employers have invested in them and their families, their commitment to their company will flourish.  

Prisha also wanted to address other concerns. She began to meet with VPs to look at data regarding internal advancement. There was a company-wide pattern of hiring externally for mid-management positions. Prisha made it a point to speak with division managers to encourage hiring from within. Managers preferred hiring externally because it saved them from having to fill another vacant position in a difficult hiring environment. She helped them understand how much more expensive it is to replace employees entirely instead of growing a strong and loyal workforce internally.  

A final issue that Prisha wanted to address involved the overall company attitude towards employees. Exit interviews highlighted a perceived lack of care from management towards employees. With the buy-in from VPs and the help of her team, Prisha began to re-write HR policies to allow for more flexible work arrangements, assistance paying down student loans, and provide access to career coaches.  

While Prisha had sizable resources at her disposal, it can be challenging to address employee retention and engagement with upper management if your company isn’t committed to the cause. If you’re a manager caught in between unhappy employees and uninterested executives, you can still work to improve conditions for your employees. Check out these employee engagement videos from Gallup as a way to get started.  

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About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has partnered with some of the biggest Fortune brands to offer excellence of service and best-in-class team building for the last 25 years.

PTP’s diverse and global team of recruiting, consulting, and project development experts specialize in a variety of IT competencies which include:

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Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunities employer. As an industry leader in IT consulting and recruitment, specializing in diversity hiring, we aim to help our clients build equitable workplaces.

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