Today’s tight labor market, coupled with economic uncertainty, is concerning for leaders in nearly every industry. The unemployment rate edged down to 3.4 percent in January, the lowest since 1969. Worse, 96 percent of workers are looking for a new position in 2023. What this tells employers is that, fundamentally, this differs from previous economic downturns. The possibility that vacated positions will not be re-filled is concerning, and employee retention should be a top priority in 2023.
Why are employees disengaging or quitting?
Employees who don’t feel valued or respected by their managers often disengage. In fact, up to 87 percent of workers are disengaged at work, while 18 percent feel completely disengaged. Beyond better pay, the following factors are primarily responsible for the uptick in employee disengagement and quitting.
- Lack of career pathing and professional development: Only 59 percent of workers feel supported in achieving personal or professional development goals. Employees want to know that their employer cares about their growth and advancement at the company. They want in-house programs that aid in developing their careers and a visible investment in their future at the organization. Employees who do not feel that their employer is invested in their future will look elsewhere for these opportunities.
- Labor shortage pressures: 70 percent of employees have had to take on more responsibilities without extra pay or promotion, and 69 percent have had to work longer hours due to the labor shortage. Disruption of a healthy work-life balance, especially without recognition, fosters a sense of resentment among employees toward their employer and career. Dr. Devon Price of the CQ Net describes employee burnout as “contagious,” meaning that the limited performance of one employee can create conflict and frustration among others, ultimately obstructing a team’s motivation and productivity.
- A toxic workplace culture: A toxic work culture leads to lower productivity, increased absences, and a lack of cohesion among teams. An absence of positive or general communication among teams and employees harbors a toxic corporate culture. In this environment, not only is it difficult to retain employees, but it’s also challenging to produce quality work.
Show appreciation by recognizing and rewarding employees
59 percent of workers have never had a boss who “truly appreciates” their work, and 63 percent feel unappreciated by their employer daily. So how do you make your workers feel appreciated and valued? A corporate-wide commitment to employee retention via recognition and appreciation maybe the solution.
- Recognize employee achievement: An employee who has been recognized is 63 percent more likely to stay at his/her job for the next three to six months. However, employee recognition is not just about high performance or achieving milestones—33 percent of employees are only recognized annually or quarterly. It also includes recognizing minor achievements accomplished daily. Recognize employees through shoutouts on the company intranet or simple mentions at meetings. Employers might consider holding a happy hour at a local restaurant or catering lunch when organizing a formal employee appreciation event.
- Create a rewards system: An incentive program motivates employees to produce high-quality work while feeling appreciated because of the additional bonuses offered. These rewards can be monetary, such as bonuses or stock purchases, or assistance-based, such as discounts to local businesses or a paid day off work. Additionally, changing the rewards offered each month will help keep employees engaged and interested in achieving such rewards.
- Offer professional development opportunities: Understanding your employee’s strengths and supporting their development is one of the best things you can do as a leader. A great way to show your employees that you value their time and commitment is to help them grow as professionals.
Related: A Skills-Based Approach to Attracting, Retaining, and Developing Talent
- Offer flexibility: Offering employees flexibility in their work schedule shows your team that you understand they have a life outside of their role in the corporation. Flexible work arrangements can motivate employees to be more productive and produce high-quality work. It also builds a sense of trust because there’s an understanding that work will be accomplished in a manner that supports employees’ lives outside of the office.
Related: The State of Remote Work in 2023
- Promote employee wellness: Another way to demonstrate appreciation for employees is to show dedication to their well-being. Encourage employee rest and recharge time and foster a culture of giving back to boost employee morale and wellness. Showing workers that you value their mental health builds a sense of community and respect. Some simple ways to promote wellness include offering gym memberships, corporate-sponsored classes, stress management tips, and access to mental health resources.
- Hold stay interviews: A company leader gains an entirely new perspective by putting themself in their employees’ shoes. One way to do this is by holding stay interviews. These one-on-one interviews make workers feel like their manager and company sincerely care about them and help build trust and goodwill. “Checking in” allows employees to feel heard and recognized.
National Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Friday of each March. But recognizing, rewarding, and appreciating employees every day of the year will help your organization win over your competitors to attract and retain talent.
This blog was authored by Broadleaf Solutions Designer Tiffany Bennett.