Expert tips | How to retain talent during 'The Great Resignation'

How to retain talent during 'The Great Resignation'

After a couple of years where people felt nervous leaving their jobs, we’re now seeing a global trend for high attrition rates.

So the question on every leader’s mind: How do you evolve your employee experience – quickly and efficiently – to limit unwanted attrition?

We asked people leaders from The Hershey Company, Lumen Technologies and Qualtrics for their advice about how they’re informing and shaping their return-to-workplace plans, how they will continue to iterate, and what new employee initiatives they’ve introduced – all with the intent of limiting the impacts of ‘The Great Resignation’ at their organisations.

Here’s what they had to say.

1. Give employees the opportunity to have their voices heard

To inform their back-to-workplace plans, Hershey pulsed leaders and employees throughout the planning process to gauge employee sentiment around items like well-being and productivity – and identify any areas of support that were needed.

This not only gave employees a chance to have their voices heard but also informed senior leadership that different employee populations were in different circumstances.

2. Take a phased approach

At the start of the pandemic, about 75% of the workforce at Lumen Technologies pivoted to working from home, with 25% remaining on the front lines and in the office due to the nature of Lumen’s business.

Now, as Lumen enters its Phase 1 for bringing (more) employees back to the workplace, HR and leadership are gleaning the lessons learned from that frontline employee population to bring people back safely.

3. Address employee well-being with swift action

During the pandemic, Hershey saw that, while productivity levels were usually up, levels of wellbeing were down. This signaled to HR and senior leaders that they needed to take action, at the enterprise level as well as the local level, to invest in well-being initiatives.

Hershey rolled out well-being initiatives such as:

  • Mental health resources for all employees

  • Blocked Monday mornings and Friday afternoons for focus work

  • Creating resources for leaders on how to have conversations with employees about heading back to the workplace

  • Leveraging employee resource groups (ERGs) to support employees and managers, e.g., the women’s group at Hershey hosts monthly small group meetings to discuss challenges

4. Provide structure around what “flexible work” means

One of the biggest themes Hershey heard from leadership about return-to-workplace planning and evolving the workplace experience was the need to structure what “flexible work” should look like.

Leaders weren’t sure how to define flexible work. Did it mean coming to the office on certain days? Was it rotating staff on a weekly basis?

Ultimately, leaders needed guidance on how to operate in this new world of work. HR and senior leadership realised that they needed to go beyond a one size fits all approach and empower leaders to make the best choices for their teams and focus on what employees need to be successful.

5. Focus on the hybrid employee technology experience

From collaboration tools to communication platforms, remote employees needed to be enabled with a seamless technology experience in order to be productive during the pandemic.

But now some employees are headed back to the office. So, what does that mean for collaboration and communication? How can HR and leaders support their teams with the transition to a hybrid model?

As companies everywhere announce hybrid work and remote-first environments, it’s also critical for IT and HR teams to work together and holistically empower employees to be successful and satisfied.

Going forward, the technology experience will be synonymous with the employee experience – not only playing an important role when it comes to attracting new talent, but also when it comes to retaining existing talent.

6. Leverage continuous listening to iterate and evolve

As it continues to evolve its hybrid work model, Hershey plans to take a two-pronged approach to listening.

First, they plan to solicit leader, manager, and employee feedback with a variety of listening tools, such as pulses, 360, continuous employee listening, small group discussions, and so on.

Then, they’ll take action by giving leaders and managers the tools they need to address employees’ needs and concerns in an ever-changing world of work.

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Acting on employee feedback is the number one way to attract, retain and engage top talent, with leaders reporting 3x more revenue per employee and 40% lower turnover. But here’s the catch: only 19% of UK employees say their organisation listens to their opinions. Qualtrics helps brands like Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Barclays to close that experience gap, enabling them to design and improve experiences across the employee lifecycle - from recruitment through to exit.