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The Big Stay: The Secret To Boosting Your Engagement and Retention

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It wasn't too long ago that we were all talking (and fussing) about the big layoff.

Between June 2021 and December 2022, “over 4 million Americans” quit their jobs each month. To put it bluntly, the pressure on HR has never been greater to manage extreme turnover rates, transform company cultures and maintain morale - not to mention the relentless need to adopt innovative recruitment and retention strategies to develop.

But fast forward to today, and the tide has turned. The great stay, the great stay - whatever you want to call it - has taken the place of the great dismissal. People are finally deciding to stay put.

So what has changed?

It's not just the poor economy and declining job opportunities that are making people hesitant to jump ship. People have no qualms about demanding change as strikes increase and unions are on the rise again after years of declining influence.

Ultimately, the great stay is a child of great resignation.

Companies have embraced innovative and people-centric employee retention strategies, and the fruits of their labor are paying off.

So what are the key retention strategies that will motivate your employees to stay and become more engaged, think more creatively and let headhunters know they're not interested in leaving your great company?

Let's dive in.

The new age of the workforce

Millennials and Generation X continue to dominate the workforce. But Generation Z is hot on their heels, making up a notable 15 percent, with that number likely to rise to 31 percent by 2031.

This means that in the next 10 years, the majority of the workforce will be made up of a generation that has a completely different approach to work and their careers. For example, 26 percent of Generation Z are unhappy in their jobs, compared to just 9 percent of Baby Boomers, and it is unlikely that this generation will stay in a place where they are not happy.

HR leaders have the opportunity to adapt their company cultures to better accommodate this growing workforce by focusing on people-based strategies such as flexible working, training and employee engagement.

Focus on core competencies, not career paths

In this ever-changing job market, successful companies are shifting their HR strategies to focus on core competencies rather than predefined career paths. People today choose careers based on who they want to be and the impact they want to have on the world, rather than what they want to be and what career ladder they want to climb.

Why form follows function
This shift represents a "form follows function" approach to career development, where the "form" is the role or career path, while the "function" represents the skills learned, the contributions made, and the impact people make want.

Employees focus on the role they want to serve and the change they want to make, and they design their career paths to align with those goals.

Leverage internal talent
One way HR leaders can adapt to this change is to turn their focus inward. There is great value in looking internally for hiring opportunities and identifying the untapped skills within your existing teams.

By leveraging the diverse skills of your current team members, you can fill open positions with friendly, familiar, and culturally appropriate faces - minimizing the risks often associated with hiring external employees.

Prioritize learning and development
L&D programs and opportunities to gain experience are important building blocks of an people-focused strategy. By investing in the ongoing learning and development of your employees, you can ensure your company remains adaptable, engaged, and ultimately happy.

Providing your team with platforms and opportunities to learn new skills, knowledge and experience will promote employee retention. Additionally, your employees can design their tasks to align with their own goals and the value they want to create for your company.

Treat your employees right
Treating your employees well is an obvious yet important way to increase employee retention.

It may sound simple, but it can be quite a complex task. In teams there are people with different needs, wishes and desires. But the bottom line is that people want to be fulfilled and respected.

If a company doesn't meet these needs, employees probably won't think twice before heading out.

"Most people recognize that it's never a good time to stay in a bad role, and post-pandemic, there's a general feeling that employees have less tolerance for unhealthy workplace cultures," says Aaron Terrazas, chief economist at Glassdoor. "We know that unhappy employees wander with their eyes, and it's even easier for them to pursue these opportunities now that remote interviews have become commonplace in many industries."

So take note that the job market never stands still. Companies that keep up with market dynamics and develop an engaging and positive culture will be much better prepared when the market inevitably changes again.

A culture based on connection

People feel most comfortable in an environment where they feel connected, valued and invested in the overall success of the company. Creating a culture that fosters these connections isn't just fantastic for employee retention. It is crucial to developing a high-performing team.

Autonomy, trust and the assurance that your employees have a clear understanding of how each individual's work contributes to the overall success of the company go a long way in building such a culture of connection.

By making tangible connections between each individual's contributions and the larger company goals and avoiding siloing your teams, you can foster a sense of purpose and belonging.

And why? Because people who can see the fruits of their labor are more likely to be engaged, motivated and committed to their jobs - and the company as a whole.

The lure of stability

People have had to deal with enormous instability due to the pandemic. Therefore, it is only natural that people become weary of change and crave stability more than ever.

People are looking for an environment that gives them a sense of security and predictability in the midst of the changing world of work. Therefore, companies that can provide a sense of stability and security become sought-after commodities - and have a higher likelihood of retaining their talent.

Companies can embrace the ideal of being resilient and flexible, but also reliable and consistent - and reassure their employees that while the company is agile and responsive to change, it is still a reliable place where they can build their careers can.

The future looks bright for HR leaders

The era of the Big Stay presents companies and HR leaders with a fantastic opportunity to rethink and reevaluate their employee engagement and retention strategies. The changes in the dynamics of the world of work have highlighted the importance of creating an organization that focuses on people-centered approaches and values-based career paths.

With an emphasis on treating employees well, fostering a culture of learning and development, leveraging internal talent, and creating a workplace culture that values connection and stability, the future holds for forward-thinking companies that embrace these ideals to make it your own, looks rosy.

Because the Big Stay is not just about retaining your talent, but also about creating an environment in which people enjoy working. And if you ask us, that sounds like an exciting, rewarding role that can only improve the working lives of you and your team.

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