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Turning the Great Resignation into the Great Retention: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Employees Happy

November 16, 2021

During COVID-19, as several businesses pivoted their operations to meet the challenges they suddenly faced, many individuals started to look inward also. As internationally renowned workforce strategist and management trendspotter Seth Mattison shared at TriNet PeopleForce, “when the pandemic hit, we were given the gift of introspection.”

For many, this introspection led to what is being called “the great resignation,” in which droves of workers have been leaving their companies over the last year to find new jobs, change careers, start their own business or pursue something else entirely.

As businesses are working on safely returning their employees back to the workplace, millions of workers are quitting their job in lieu of going back. According to a report by Monster.com, a whopping 95% of workers are now considering changing jobs.

The cost of replacing just one employee can range anywhere from 50% to 200% of their salary. This makes the great resignation particularly difficult, especially for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that have already had their limited resources taxed by the pandemic. For this reason, the return on investment of increasing retention efforts is clearly worth the endeavor.

But how does one go about rethinking their company’s approach to employee retention? These tried-and-true tips for retaining top talent can help you get started.

Rethink Remote Work
Remote work is an excellent way to cast a wide recruitment net in the wake of Covid-19. Many employees have become accustomed to the flexibility and work-life balance that remote work allows. Likewise, many companies have found that the option to run their business from anywhere is a viable one and thus have switched permanently to either a fully remote or hybrid work environment. If it is possible to allow your employees to work remotely, even part-time, you could not only potentially help your employee retention, but also increase your ability to hire top talent as your hiring market expands from local candidates to being able to hire workers from anywhere in the U.S.

Empower Employees
A Gallup poll from February 2021 reported that employees who receive regular praise and recognition are more productive and more loyal. In addition to offering positive and constructive feedback on an ongoing basis, you can keep top performers invested in your company by giving them freedom in the ownership of their work.

Employees who are not micromanaged but, instead, are given autonomy and space to exercise their business knowledge, skills and abilities, usually are more inclined to feel like the work they do for the company is vital and that they are a necessary part of the organization’s success.

Ways you can empower your employees include:

  • Giving them opportunities—through regular employee surveys for example—to express their opinions and suggestions on the company’s operations and their satisfaction with their job.
  • Implement employee suggestions as much as reasonable and let them know you value their feedback.
  • Remind them that they are stakeholders in your company’s business and show them how their work contributes to the success of your business.
  • Reward your employees for their contributions.


Put an Emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
Creating a formal DEI program for your company is no longer just a “nice to have” but is increasingly becoming a “must have” for employers who want to remain competitive in the hiring market.

An effective DEI program is one in which you look to employ and train a workforce that is comprised of individuals with a range of characteristics.

When you hire people from diverse backgrounds, you bring a fresh perspective to your business, increasing your ability to be more competitive and creative in the market. More than ever, employers are prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Focusing on DEI is not only the smart thing to do for your business but also the right thing to do.

Give Constructive Feedback
Recognizing good work is a powerful, cost-effective method for retaining top talent. The days of annual performance reviews being the only time employees receive feedback are long gone. In addition to giving specific feedback at least twice a year during semi-annual performance reviews, employers should maintain an open line of communication in which they provide immediate feedback to their employees. This can be praise for a job well done, as well as constructive feedback for when an employee comes up short.

If you wait too long to provide positive feedback, your top performer may feel like their hard work has gone unrecognized. Likewise, by offering constructive feedback right away, you give your employees the best chance to work up to their full potential.

Invest in Professional Growth Opportunities
Another way employers can increase both employee productivity and retention is by investing in professional growth opportunities such as training courses, seminars, coaching, and even personal development and wellness experiences.

By giving your employees the time and resources to learn new skills, practices and experiences, you show them you care about their long-term professional development and help to build them into a team member who can grow with your company. This doesn’t always have to be a formal process. Development opportunities can be as simple as offering coaching, mentorship and the ability to gain more knowledge about specific subject matters through online trainings or books.

Show Them You Care About Them as People
It’s important to remember that employees, first and foremost, are people. Their dispositions, moods and feelings have an impact on job performance, decision-making, creativity, turnover, teamwork and leadership. An effective leader creates a positive environment to guide the culture and morale of the organization.

A few ways to keep a positive company culture in the organization is to offer wellness activities. These activities could include power walking, fun fitness challenges, scavenger hunts, an employee field day, subsidizing wearable technology that helps employees track their activity, and virtual team bonding activities. Have regular employee surveys to gauge your team’s morale and get feedback on what wellness offerings your team would like to have.

Be Transparent
Employers should regularly communicate openly and honestly with their employees. Good communication about your company’s direction, values, mission, vision and even struggles helps your employees to stay aligned with your business. It also displays integrity on the part of the employer, which top performers tend to value and helps them to trust your leadership, which is essential to long-term loyalty.

Ways employers can keep the lines of communication open include:

  • Adopting an open-door policy that allows any member of the team to come to any member of leadership at any time with questions, comments or concerns, and to have the opportunity to be truly heard. This also gives leaders the opportunity to nip any rising issues in the bud and help maintain an effective workplace.
  • Disseminate frequent (quarterly, semi-annually or at least annually) employee surveys to gauge sentiment. This includes sharing the results of the surveys with all employees and communicating to them what changes will be made based on survey feedback.
  • Offer methods for your employees to anonymously share their feedback (a feedback box in offices or an online portal is great for this) if they are not comfortable coming directly to leadership with concerns.
  • Hold regular all-staff meetings in which the entire team is updated on major happenings coming out of the organization, now and in the future.
  • Maintain one hub, such as a company intranet, where your employees can be updated in real-time about the company and share information with each other.


Offer Rich Employee Benefits
Not too long ago, perks such as free food in the breakroom, ping pong tables in the office and frequent company outings became popular ways to attract workers. However, in today’s competitive hiring market, SMBs are best poised to compete for a limited pool of talent by offering access to big-company benefits as part of an attractive compensation package. A comprehensive benefits offering that includes not just traditional healthcare and insurance benefits but also offerings focused on wellness, financial stability and other major life priorities are key to attracting and retaining top talent as we move into the future of work.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

This post may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties other than TriNet. Such hyperlinks are provided for reference only. TriNet does not control such web sites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of such hyperlinks on TriNet.com does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or association with their operators.

By Doreen Robinson

Senior Consultant, HR & Compliance Services

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