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Retrain your brain to retain

Too often management is caught up in what can feel like an impossibility of meeting operational demand with too little resource, pair this with a knock-on effect of customer dissatisfaction and the pressure which comes with it, it’s no wonder the debate into ‘The Great Resignation’ continues but, are we too reactive in a culture where ‘firefighting’ has become the norm?

Engagement strategies are frequently thought of as a luxury, a ‘fluffy area’ or something which is a HR focus point because management are too busy running the day-to-day operations of a business to worry about a problem which isn’t yet a problem …. That is of course until it is.

A standard approach to an individual resigning is to explore their reasons why? This is normally done in the form of an exit interview and then to try and ‘fix’ the problem. Often an employee will feel this is too little too late, they’ve explored new opportunities and are excited about their new prospects. Instead, what companies should be promoting is the importance of a “stay interview” to find out what makes a loyal employee tick.

This isn’t an annual appraisal whereby objectives are set with clear deadlines and expectations reiterated with the employee who then has an opportunity to comment on their own progress; this involves asking specific questions around the person such as “what do you look forward to when you come to work”? Would you recommend our company to a friend?” “Have you thought about leaving recently?” “What made you think of leaving the company?”  Whilst not an easy shift and arguably a difficult conversation to have this proactive approach could go a long way in tackling ‘the domino effect’ of an unhappy and subsequently under resourced workforce therefore management needs to see this as important as the day to day running of the operation, whilst they still have the people to do just that.

Working more flexibly

The covid-19 pandemic brought with it an urgent need to constantly re-evaluate how companies in all industries operate with ever changing rules and guidance to contend with.

Those in office-based settings were instructed to work from home therefore, IT departments were called upon to facilitate this and companies were forced to fast track their agile working programmes. During this time of uncertainty and adaptability came with it a time of reflection both for companies and staff alike and many were questioning if the 9-5 desk job was outdated with Acas reporting an expected increase of 55% in staff working from home or working remote part of the week.

In a study they commissioned with YouGov in 2021 Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said “Hybrid working existed before COVID and our survey reveals that more than half of employers in Britain expect this type of flexible working to increase once we come out of the pandemic”.

This increase in requests isn’t restricted to those in office-based roles, those in hospitality and retail are also focusing a need on better work-life balance with a recent Tuc report showing 82% of workers have a real appetite to work more flexibly since the pandemic. When done in the right way this can be a win – win for both employers and staff and can also go a long way when retaining talent.

Don’t underestimate the importance of job satisfaction

Believe it or not money isn’t everything. Whilst it sounds straight forward and we know that staff want to be paid fairly and appropriately to that of their role and responsibilities, often the focus of where they see themselves heading in the future with the company, whether they feel valued and ultimately if they’re happy with the workplace culture is getting lost during ‘the daily grind’.

In summary, attention should be paid to engaging with employees, not operating in a way which is restrictive because historically this is in keeping with how the business operates. More focus should be on preventing a resource issue as opposed to a reactive thought process when it’s often too late, management need to be able to see the correlation between an engaged and happier workforce and meeting their own operational business objectives