What would you do if 40% of your firm quit next week? While such a mass exodus is highly unlikely — at least all at once — it’s a question that every employer should be asking themselves right now.
According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 41% of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer within the next year, and 49% of those plan to make a major pivot or career transition. In the business world, that means you don’t just need to worry about losing your best people to other companies or industry roles, but to other careers: teaching, nursing, tech, entrepreneurship and more.
By now, you’ve likely seen the headlines about the Great Resignation. The pandemic led many people to realize they weren’t happy in their careers, and they’re leaving in search of more money, career potential, flexibility, happiness, etc. But is this loss of talent inevitable? I don’t think so. I believe any business with the right culture can take steps now to hold onto their best people and attract new employees looking for a change. Here’s how.
1. Pay your people well We know that money isn’t the only component to keeping people happy, but let’s face it: For most people, the reason they’re employed is to get paid. In the past 18 months, businesses across the country figured out how to support remote work. So you’re no longer competing against other businesses and employers in your geographic area — you’re competing with companies across the country and maybe even around the world. So if you’re not paying your people well, they will leave your firm for someone who will.
2. Invest in learning, development and upskilling Many talented professionals in your business today know that the future of the professional life is changing, but they don’t feel like they have the education and experience to be successful in these areas. Invest time and money into upskilling them for the future. This includes core skills like communication, active listening, building trust, project management, problem-solving and collaboration. It may also include technical skills beyond their current roles, such as data analytics or specialized technical certifications. Incorporate these upskilling opportunities into your business's formal learning and development program and into each employee’s quarterly goals. Discuss them as part of your regular check-ins and performance reviews. When you show your team you’re invested in their professional development, they will feel more secure in their careers and know they have a purpose and a future in the firm. This applies to all staff, including admin, IT and marketing.
3. Support lateral moves Try to accommodate people who decide that their current career path isn’t right for them. For example, you may have accountants who want to go into IT or admin professionals who want to go into marketing. It’s better to hold on to a great employee in a different role than to lose them entirely, so take steps to help people make meaningful lateral moves.
4. Listen to your team People want to feel heard and valued by their colleagues and coworkers. So take time to build relationships with people beyond the work they do every day. This helps build a foundation that will create loyalty and increase their likelihood of staying with your firm. Building relationships takes time, so make it part of your daily routine. Whether team members are in the office or working remotely, schedule regular catch-ups and informal meetings to ask them how they’re doing on a personal level and find out what you can do to support them.
5. Offer flexibility In the past few months, we’ve heard a lot of leaders talk about getting people “back to work” — meaning back in the office. This is troublesome for two reasons. First, your people have been working very hard, whether in the office or working from home. Suggesting they need to get “back to work” diminishes the amazing effort they’ve put in to stay productive during an extremely difficult time. Secondly, forcing people back to the office will likely backfire. While some people are excited to return to the office, many people don’t want to work in the office full-time, and some want to retain the flexibility of remote work permanently. If one or two employees struggle to remain productive and accountable while working from home, address them separately. Don’t let one or two exceptions dictate the rules for everyone. People don’t have to be together in an office five days a week to do their jobs well. Where people work is a lot less important than how they can be most productive. Trust people to deliver their best work no matter where they’re located, and everyone will be more successful.
6. Invest in technology and process improvement It’s tough to get excited about doing your job every day when that job entails dull data entry, wasting hours looking for information, redoing work you thought was complete, and navigating the personal preferences of every person you work for. Good talent leaves bad managers, yes. But they also leave bad technology and processes. So invest in giving your people the tools and processes that will make their jobs easier and free up time to do higher-level, more valuable work. Job satisfaction will improve.
7. Cultivate culture In the past year, we’ve talked to many leaders worried that they’re losing some of the culture they built while everyone was in the office. Yet culture can’t be a reason you force everyone back to the office. Building and maintaining culture in a hybrid or fully remote firm is possible, but it takes intentional effort. Some of the things you can do to promote culture include:
Organizing treats for in-person and virtual meetings;
Hosting fun events and challenges;
Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other life events;
Sharing personal and professional wins; and,
Encouraging “water cooler conversations” on our social platforms.
Because we work hard to maintain culture when we’re remote, when we do get together in person, these occasions are more like meeting old friends than gathering with acquaintances. Culture will always be a work in progress, but when you’re on the right path, it will bind your top performers together and become a competitive advantage.
8. Be proactive There are many reasons why people may consider leaving their jobs. Some will be outside your control, but be proactive about addressing the areas you can control: leadership, growth, technology, process and talent. This will help you get ahead of the Great Resignation and avoid losing the talent you’ve worked so hard to attract and retain.
We believe ELO CPA's & Advisors leadership have built a winning and growing culture. Our advisory and consulting team can help you put a plan into action that fits your business. We want to assist you before the Great Resignation hits your business. Call your local office today. Our Locations