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Retention Worries

March 30, 2021

By Sheila Hoover, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Businesses closing, mass layoffs, and furloughs equal high unemployment rates – 7.5% in January 2021 in the state of Michigan.  Managers shouldn’t be worried about retaining their current employees, should they?  Who would leave a secure job during a time like this?

Then, Friday afternoon, your top employee resigns out of the blue.  In addition to finding a replacement, you also need to be concerned about the silent message this sends to your team and how their questions may affect them.  Why did he/she leave?  Should I be searching for a new job as well?  Is there something happening that I don’t know about?

According to, recent reports suggest the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic may be motivating employees to leap into a brand-new role instead of riding it out with their current employer.  The latest Recruiter Index reports more than half of recruiters (53%) said candidates are “moderately” or “very” open to new opportunities.  Only 1.4% said candidates were not open to hearing about new jobs. 

In a year when so much was on the line and so many companies had to make difficult choices, a large number of employees feel their companies have done right by them. Recent research from Topia revealed that 28% of employees said their companies had given them an “exceptional” employee experience over the course of the last year. That might seem low, but compare it to Topia’s previous survey, when only 17% of employees said the same.  Turn that around and 72% of employees still feel there’s some room for improvement. What are they looking for? According to Topia’s report, the key components of an “exceptional” employee experience include:

  • Growth opportunities (53%)
  • Having the right tech (40%)
  • Being empowered and entrusted (50%)
  • Flexibility of work location (39%)
  • Amazing office space and perks (16%)

When employees are making a decision to accept or decline an offer, they are mainly concerned with higher pay (66%) and flexibility/remote work (55%).

Plainly speaking, if you want to keep your best employees on staff, you need to give them a little flexibility and pay them what they’re worth.  But you can’t stop there.  The complete employee experience is expanding and on the radar for many employees.  In order to retain current and new employees, employers should consider offering the following extras.

  1. Perks such as PTO to volunteer for their favorite charity, free coffee and snacks, catered lunches, or corporate discounts.
  2. Wellness offerings to keep them physically, financially, and mentally fit.  If your employees are “fit”, there will be fewer sick days and higher productivity.
  3. Social Justice.  2020 has taught all of us the importance of moral compasses, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.  68% of employees would leave their current jobs for a company that takes a stronger stance on social issues.
  4. Feedback and communication are a more formal way to retain your employees.  They should always know how they are performing and have the ability to ask questions to management without fear of being judged.  Open and honest communication is essential.
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