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Improving Retention: Determining What Employees Want


The Great Resignation, the Big Quit, the Great Reshuffle, or whatever euphemism we prefer, continues today, long after the impact of COVID is subsiding. Unfortunately for many organizations, the trend started well in advance of COVID. The pandemic and remote work practices appears to have made it easier to see what employees were feeling; a need for change. As far back as 2018, Gallup reported that many employees were either disengaged or actively disengaged from their work in the U.S.


Today, disengagement is still a significant issue in workplaces. A recent report by Fast Company, references employees' negative sentiment towards their managers and their managers' role in creating toxic workplaces. A recent Gartner survey determined that "only 47% of managers feel they are prepared to lead with empathy". Too often, supervisors have had no formal management training. Employers need to provide employees with adequate management support. Managers need to have experience and training to know how best to assist with the day-to-day obstacles their employees face and the ability to provide professional development guidance.


An employer developing a practical and easy to understand management training can begin with management 101 training. You may be able to find some resources via mandated state trainings. For example, New York state's mandated harassment training for managers has plenty of tips for manager effectiveness and proper communication. This material can be expanded upon to provide an overall first approach to the effective management of individuals.


Flexible benefits that fit the company's culture and workforce are not going away. We see from SHRM, that employees want a sustainable, flexible work environment and are interested in more time off, remote working options, and paid family leave. As more return-to-the-office policies arise, employers need to consider that a significant number employees want to work remotely full-time (44%), and a smaller number (16%) of employers want to offer these benefits (SHRM). The disconnect between employers and employees will likely extend the era of quitting and lower retention. One strategy may be to reframe the differences from an all-or-nothing proposition to incremental solutions.


As we begin our 2023 improvement plans, here are some questions to ask as you consider how to increase your retention.

  • Do we pay a market rate for our most important jobs? Do we know that information?

  • How do our employees feel about our benefits plans?

  • What insights can we gain from our exit interviews?

  • When was the last time we reviewed our remote work practices?

  • Have we received feedback from staff in the last six months?

  • Finally, can our current group of managers achieve the 2023 goals without the leadership's support in their development?

When you want answers from the workforce, ask them, report back the feedback, and the actions the leadership team will take to address their concerns. Provide periodic updates. When introducing new benefits and during the open enrollment, communicate the changes early and often. Ensure that the staff knows how to use their benefits and where to access information.


Every day at Kiwi Partners, we work with our clients on these critical business problems. All these questions have answers, and the best way to get to a better place is to start by taking action. Here is to higher retention in 2023!


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