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How to retain your exceptional people - strategy tips for 2022

How to retain your exceptional people - strategy tips for 2022

As we close another turbulent year in the world of work, it is increasingly clear that the biggest challenge for organisations next year will be retaining their exceptional people. 

We started to read about the ‘great resignation’ in the summer with research from Microsoft predicting that up to 40% of the global workforce were re-evaluating their careers.

The Aviva ‘How we live report’, published in November, found the number of UK workers planning career changes as a result of Covid-19 increased from 53% in July 2020 to 65% this October. Employee expectations and priorities are changing.

Without doubt, experiences in the pandemic have altered many employees' views of how and where they want to work. They’ve got used to flexible and remote working. They know their options now include working for a far wider range of employers from anywhere they want. Workers in areas like tech are now finding themselves connected to a global market for their skills. 

With talent shortages almost everywhere, we look at the issues organisations need to address so that their people want to stay.

Be clear on what you stand for and who you serve

As employees refocus their priorities in life, many are seeking to find a greater sense of purpose - particularly when it comes to their work. Having watched our public services step up to the challenges of the pandemic, people have seen first hand what it’s like to make a difference. Many are asking what their own employers are doing to respond to some of the bigger challenges facing the world in terms of the climate, sustainability and mental health. They want to know where they stand on things like social responsibility and, as they become clearer in their own values, finding alignment with those of their employers becomes more important than ever

Organisations will need to be clear on their values and communicate them in a way that gives their people a greater sense of the belonging and community so many are looking for. In some cases, having been remote for so long, employees may have lost touch with the values that encouraged them to join in the first place. There is a strong case for the ‘reboarding’ of existing people as much as the onboarding of new recruits.

Focus on how you work, not where

Many are also re-evaluating their lives as a more holistic human experience that includes, but is not ruled by, their work. By now, the pandemic should have helped employers understand which benefits are most valued by employees in balancing this. As well as flexibility and greater trust, things like ongoing development, empathetic people management, greater support for working parents and wellbeing programmes all help to create a culture that retains. Keep delivering more of what people value most and they’ll be more engaged, and more likely to stay.

All the more reason to work on creating a ‘great way to work’ instead of so much emphasis on the actual place. Organisations should continue to focus on a new hybrid world of continued flexible working while keeping their people engaged through aligned values and the right benefits. A new and better way of working is increasingly about how we work, not where.

Take wellbeing seriously - and show it

Organisations don’t only lose talent to competitors, poor mental health also increases turnover, but it can be managed. For home workers in particular, burnout and anxiety can go unnoticed both by employers who don’t check in and by the employees themselves. They might think that what they are experiencing is normal or, if they are aware, are reluctant to seek help. This reluctance is often down to an employer that talks up wellbeing but in practice, tacitly encourages a long hours culture.

As we covered in our most recent blog, How to embed a culture of wellbeing, engagement with wellbeing is far lower than it needs to be. To retain a healthy and productive workforce, this needs to change. Organisations need to show they take wellbeing seriously by creating work patterns that support better mental health and a culture that encourages employees to seek the help available to them.

Transparency, honesty and clarity

Many are still seeing their working lives in a state of uncertainty, with new variants of Covid only adding to the confusion. We’ve always advocated clarity and transparency in times like this when people are looking for answers. So, when you can be sure of something, say so. If you can’t, don’t - but do say when you will be able to give further information.

Even without the pandemic, organisations that are better at keeping their people informed and engaged are more attractive as employers. So, give your people repeated reminders of any changes and the context around what is happening, alongside what will remain a constant. In 2022, clarity will not only be your friend, it’ll help your people decide if they want to stay - or take up opportunities elsewhere.

Don’t run too fast

The Omicron variant should also act as a warning to any leader wanting to see a return to the office more quickly than their employees are comfortable with. A lot of leaders may want to push ahead with their plans, but they need the resolve to remember that their people may not yet be in the same place. Many are still tired and re-evaluating what they want from their lives first, and careers second.

We think 2022 will be a settling down year and we will certainly be focusing on what we can control - which is our day to day business and any issues that arise. We won’t be worrying too much about what we don’t yet know or might not happen. Leaders need to find a way of balancing their ambitious aspirations with the empathy needed to take the people they’ll need to deliver with them.

Have ‘good exits’

Finally, despite doing as much of the above as you can, people will still leave - but that doesn’t mean they won’t come back. We think organisations should focus on giving employees ‘good exits’, leaving the door open for people for whom the grass might not have been as green as they’ve hoped. People who return to an organisation also send a powerful message internally and help those considering their own exit to reconsider.

Can we help you next year?

The above is a high level look at what we think will be important to your people. But, it also presents some fairly big challenges in actually getting this done. Knowing what you want to do is one thing, but good intentions can easily get side-tracked. We think these are all big topics that deserve equal attention to what may seem more pressing operational issues - which is where we come in. 

We can help you create an organisation where your people will not only want to stay, but achieve their full potential. To have a chat and answer any questions you might have, please get in touch.

How Can We help?

How else can we help?

If you’d like our support in making these ideas work for you and your business, please get in touch.

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