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How do you stop your employees leaving?

The Great Resignation doesn’t appear to be slowing down, with latest research revealing that almost a fifth of UK workers have said they expect to leave their current job for a new employer in the next 12 months. Plus, according to the CIPD, the rate of job-to-job moves stands at 3.2 per cent which is a record high. And so, managing with an ever-depleting workforce is a challenge many business and HR leaders are currently battling with. And they are simultaneously trying to figure out why their people are leaving so that the exodus can be slowed. Here’s how you can reduce the likelihood of your employees leaving.

Understanding the ‘why?’

Very often, stated reasons for why people choose to stay or leave an employer are different from the true reasons that drive them to make the decision either way. For example, if you ask a person why they are leaving, many will say pay, lack of career options or lack of appreciation. But analysis uncovers a slightly different set of reasons. These include work-life balance being compromised; a poor level of support from the immediate manager; a lack of career opportunities; and the day-to-day job being more difficult to complete, more stressful, more complicated, or lacking in resources.

How do you stop people from leaving – is pay enough?

In the current climate, hygiene factors like pay are far more important right now than higher level benefits. This is due to the global rising cost of living.

Employees are increasingly reflecting on whether their pay levels are now adequate to support their lifestyle, considering current economic challenges. In addition, many have found that doing their day-to-day job has become harder. Many employees have faced disruption in the basics of delivering their jobs. For example, moving to remote working where possible, needing to adopt new technology, reacting to higher levels of sickness (which have created resourcing issues), having to lead remote workforces, plus much more.

So, many organisations are trying to adapt to ensure pay packages sized correctly. But organisations should consider other areas that have a longer-term impact on retention than the temporary motivator of increased salaries.

Greater flexibility and wellbeing support

The major benefit many employees are looking for is flexibility in both location and work patterns. Covid-19 has led to many employees leaving because they have reconsidered their priorities, want to switch careers, or are thinking of doing so. Plus, they’re re-evaluating the importance of a high-flying career versus wanting a better work-life balance with a greater focus on their health and wellbeing.

Employees need their employers to acknowledge their challenges and help them overcome them in whatever way they can. For example, providing more wellbeing support, communicating policies more effectively, and enabling managers to utilise flexible working.


So what else are people looking for from a broader employee experience point of view? Employees like to work for organisations that are purpose-driven and live corporate values that align to their personal ones. They want to be part of driving change and seeing the impact their job has in helping the organisation to achieve its mission – it’s all about alignment to a greater purpose.

Younger generations, and in particular Gen Z, have a greater interest in global issues around climate change and sustainability, diversity and inclusion, human rights, race and ethnicity issues, LGBTQ+ equality, and feminism than any of their predecessors.  With this front of mind, we need to ensure that the future workforce – the talent now coming into business – is met by organisations that are equally as passionate about rights as they are.

A positive culture of belonging

An organisation’s culture – how it lives its values, how well leaders communicate their vision and give transparent updates on progress, how managers support and appreciate their people, and how colleagues speak and include each other – can often set an organisation apart from other employers. When an attractive culture has been nurtured, people will feel comfortable. They will want to stay connected to the people they like and believe in.

For many employees, choosing to stay with an employer will often come down to feeling that they belong. This will mean that they feel connected to the company, leaders and co-workers. And that they have an ability to see their part in making the organisation successful.

Listening is key

Different employees have different needs. So, it’s all about listening to your people to understand what you can do to further improve their work lives. By listening through surveys and one-to-ones, for example, you will be able to identify the areas that matter most to your workforce. And then you can take action to decrease the likelihood of employees leaving.

Plus, by learning what is most important and how specific areas can be improved, leaders can stay true in the marketing of their employee value proposition (EVP). This is the ‘special recipe’ that makes the organisation a great employer to work for. After all, if the company falsely advertises their organisation, a new recruit will soon figure this out and leave!

Being realistic about tenure

At the same time as trying to keep people from leaving, it’s important to be realistic about how long they will stay. Younger people are driving us to reconsider our learned views on long-term employment and tenure. Irrespective of how good an employer is, they often perceive their career pathway as spending one to three years in a role or at a particular employer before moving to another. This is with the aim to widen their experiences. It’s therefore becoming an unrealistic expectation to keep hold of talent for the long service levels and ‘job for life’ mentality held by older generations. Instead, business and HR leaders must ensure the employee lifecycle – from attraction to alumni – is considered. And they must ensure that this enables employees to leave positively, but also boomerang back in time.

Laying the right foundations

The cost-of-living crisis is making pay increasingly important, however pay alone will not stop your best people from leaving. To have a chance of slowing The Great Resignation, you must consider key factors that are currently driving career decisions. For example, flexible working and work-life balance through to organisational purpose. Ultimately, you must listen to your people and honestly review your organisational culture. Ask questions such as – is the culture warm and welcoming and is your EVP an accurate reflection of the everyday employee experience? Only by active listening and taking onboard honest feedback, is change possible.

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