Retaining talent through the Great Resignation

The pandemic has created a new normal for many. It’s also given people a chance to reflect on their personal and career objectives and define what’s most important to them. Many are choosing to leave their current organizations and seek jobs for improved compensation, better work-life balance, or an overall better culture.

This phenomenon in employee behaviour is known as the Great Resignation1 and is affecting employment rates worldwide. Canadian companies are experiencing challenges in retention and in fact, the US and the UK are seeing record high vacancies2.In a recent survey carried out by People First HR, results showed that 62% of respondents said their companies are seeing higher-than-usual resignation rates. In August 2021, Canada’s unemployment rate was the lowest it’s been at since February 2020, and the job change rate is back up to pre-pandemic levels.4

With more Canadian workers choosing to leave their current jobs for new employment, we’re seeing both a great resignation and a great migration. This leads us to ask, how are businesses and leaders retaining talent through the great resignation?

Through our survey results and conversations with knowledge leaders, we’ve identified three strategies companies are using to retain talent in the coming months: 

        • Strong communication
        • Engaging and supportive culture
        • Supporting employees’ career objectives

Strong communication:

A recent Gallup study found that employees are more likely to want to stay with an organization that has open, timely, and accurate communication.3

Companies that focused on communication with employees throughout the pandemic have seen higher retention rates than those that didn’t. If your organization hasn’t been communicating enough, it’s time to start – especially as more people return to the workplace.

        • Share news and be honest with your teams
        • Keep employees in the loop about change so they’re not surprised by news or announcements
        • Use a variety of channels to reach your employees like virtual town halls, team meetings, emails, in person, etc.
        • Ask for feedback and be clear about what action steps leadership intends to take

Engaging and supportive culture

Cultivating culture means creating a workplace that people want to be part of.

LifeWorks’ Mental Health Index indicates that managers are experiencing greater mental health issues and more stress than non-managers.5 When managers and people leaders aren’t engaged, it can negatively affect their teams, productivity, and the overall workplace culture. This results in resignations of both managers and employees.

Organizations that have been successful at retaining employees have engaged in practices like socially-distanced get-togethers to create community, providing access to virtual wellness classes like yoga, and including mental health supports in their group benefits plans.

Finally providing flexible working arrangements (hybrid, work from home, flexible work hours) allows employees to make choices that accommodate their personal circumstances, and ultimately encourage them to stay.

Supporting employee career objectives

Career conversations can be a powerful tool that aligns employees’ goals with organizational objectives. They can enhance engagement and improve retention, but only if they happen before your employee is at risk of leaving. It’s important to be ready to balance their needs, concerns, and overall goals by offering realistic and actionable feedback.

For an effective career conversation, managers should:

        • Prepare for the conversation
        • Communicate the goal of the meeting
        • Keep the conversation informal
        • Listen to how the employee sees their future with the organization
        • Follow up with actionable items

 Moving through the great resignation

Even as we move past the pandemic, the reality is that we’ll continue to see its affects on workplaces for years to come. In order for organizations to be successful, they’ll need to implement better communication tools, nurture an inclusive culture, and be open to change.

To help retain talent through the great resignation, focus on ensuring your employees feel valued, heard, and supported.

  4. Statistics Canada