Build an Employee Retention Strategy that Works

BY Tim Londergan
Featured image for “Build an Employee Retention Strategy that Works”

You’ve heard this before: When things go wrong, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself those hard questions. Well, if your company is one adversely affected by the Great Resignation, or if you’re having difficulty bringing in new talent, then it’s time to put your company’s hiring policies in the mirror. In other words, it’s time to prioritize your employee retention strategy.

Rethink your employee retention strategy

That’s the recommendation from the recent Great Resigners Research Report conducted by the Cengage Group. Notably, this timely study “polled 1200 U.S. adults, age 25 and older, who had either quit their job in the past 6 months or were seriously planning to quit in the next 6 months.” Industries included marketing, communication and sales as well as 10 other major categories. Remarkably, the insight gained from this report will provide guidelines for your hiring, training and employee retention strategy going forward.

Resigners: Who are they and why did they leave?

An unprecedented 38 million workers quit their jobs in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of available jobs in the U.S. is hovering around 10.6 million. According to the report sample, 58% of the resigners are male while 42% identify as female. 89% of the responders are aged 25 to 44, and 67% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Two-​thirds had already resigned at the time of the study, and one-​third planned to quit in the next six months.

Tellingly, 91% of respondents wanted to make more money, 89% felt burnt out and unsupported, and 83% felt they were not growing in their position. Clearly, the pandemic triggered doubts regarding work/​life balance for many employees. However, 58% of those polled said the high number of colleagues quitting influenced their decision to leave as well. Notably, 67% were satisfied with their skill set and had a new job or were interviewing when they left their positions. Disturbingly, one-​third had no leads or were worried about landing a new job.

Resigners: What do they want?

Interestingly, many workers quit without a plan, but they were firm in acknowledging their needs before accepting a new position. Understandably, the criteria below provide the framework for your new employee retention strategy.

  • 33% want good benefits
  • 23% want competitive pay
  • 22% want professional development and growth opportunities
  • 8% want flexible or remote work opportunities
  • 7% want greater purpose or meaning from their work
  • 6% want a workplace culture that is fun or unique

Surprisingly, money is not the prime motivator for returning to work. Good benefits are the key for one-​third of respondents. Moreover, when these workers intend to make higher wages, 51% plan to switch industries. What’s more, 89% believe they will have to invest time and money into learning about a new industry to improve their chances of employment.

Your employee retention strategy must include re-​skilling opportunities

Incredibly, 72% of polled resigners have taken initiative to enroll in an online training course or a certificate program to improve their standing in their job search. However, 69% know their lack of skills and experience will make their job search more difficult. Employers beware! Merely providing professional development training is not a free pass for employers. Defiantly, one-​quarter of resigners’ previous employers had paid for online coursework, and yet, they took their learnings out the door. Employee training alone does not sustain a worker without comparable benefits, fair pay and an agreeable company culture.

Evolved hiring practices with access to education assure employee retention

When your hiring rulebook is reflected in the mirror, what do you see? Hopefully, it makes space for candidates who have followed a nontraditional path to your door. With nearly 67% of U.S. adults without a bachelor’s degree, your guidelines must evolve. Expectantly, your program should offer scalable online education that offers employee/​students the flexibility they need to gain new skills to advance their careers. Research suggests that educational partnerships, funding for certification programs and hybrid learning models are admirable components of your employee retention strategy.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash