The Big Quit is here. According to the Labor Department, 4.3 million employees left their jobs in August — numbers we haven’t seen since December 2000. But is this actually a good thing?
Last week on Talent Experience Live, Phenom's Jonathan Dale (JD), VP of Marketing, and Jennifer Thomas, Manager, Content Marketing, explored this controversial idea, and how employers can take action to create more meaningful experiences and retain talent. Catch up on the full episode below, or catch highlights to learn more!
The “Big Quit” – or “Great Realignment”?
According to JD, tight labor market means employees are feeling empowered to evaluate their job situation rather than stay trapped in a role that isn’t right.
“There has to be a true alignment between what that employee values, what they’re looking for, and what they need in their career. And that has to be directly in line with what a company is looking for, what a company’s purpose is, and what a company needs from that employee … when you have an opportunity to reevaluate that, it’s a positive thing,” JD added.
How to improve employee retention
So what can HR teams do as they struggle to attract and retain sought-after talent? There are a few ways employers can help their organizations navigate the Big Quit to ultimately achieve better workforce alignment.
Train managers to be great leaders (and listeners!)
Good leaders are the key to retention, JD pointed out. It’s crucial to put the best possible managers in place throughout your organization. This means training new and existing managers to be good listeners who strive to uncover and support their employees’ career aspirations.
“It helps [bring about] that candid, open conversations about alignment – do you have the right people and is everyone connected … [to better] understand their career path, their upward mobility, and what experience they need to get to the next level. If you have managers doing that, then at a company level, half the problem is already solved,” he said.
Invest in the employee experience
Although having good leaders is vital to retention, having a strong employee experience (EX) is a close runner up. To explore how companies can improve EX, we brought on recent Phenom hire John Harrington to share insight from his own career journey.
True story: Growth and development just might be the silver bullet
When Harrington chose to leave his previous position, he didn’t take the decision lightly – he wanted to make sure he wasn’t running from something, but running toward a better opportunity.
Harrington advised employers, “Look at every person as someone who can add value to your team in ways that maybe you don’t know today… help them find that career path and access to mentors and people they work with to get the skills and experience they need to qualify for the opportunities that are going to help your business to compete,” he said. “Look at people on your team as true assets that need to be continually invested in.”
Put the right tech in place
For many organizations, uncovering employees’ career aspirations and providing them with tailored paths and upskilling opportunities may sound easier said than done — but technology can bridge the gap.
Although it can’t replace the human element of great leaders, or start a conversation, it can help employees define a career path and navigate internal resources to get from point A to point B. Employee experience platforms powered by artificial intelligence (AI) create transparency, revealing what’s possible within the organization to launch employees on a career trajectory, said Jesus Latorre-Socas, Lead Product Manager at Phenom.
“It’s about creating that transparency for an employee to understand not just where they are today and how they can further learn and enhance their experience, but also get a sense of trajectory and where they want to go in the organization,” Jesus said. “It’s their journey at the end of the day … give them the keys to create that journey. That’s where technology is going to bridge the gap.”
Utilize AI skills gap analysis to streamline internal mobility
Once an employee decides on a career goal, how can they identify the best way to get there?
AI-powered skills gap analysis uses specific data the system has gathered about that employee through previous interactions to quickly identify the most relevant resources available. In seconds, an employee can map a progression of curated resources to help them advance – including learning and development courses, certifications, mentors, and gigs – tailored to their aspirations and level of experience.
Determine if a salary increase is appropriate
Of course, you can’t have a conversation about employee retention without talking dollars. The specter of re-hiring challenges can tempt managers into offering pay increases.
“If compensation is one of the key factors for the employees you care most about – that’s the button you should press,” JD said. But that’s not always a risk worth taking.
If you’re increasing someone’s salary just to avoid re-hiring – not because they’re perfect for the job – you may be delaying the inevitable. “One of the biggest risks right now for an employer is retaining people purely based upon compensation when you know it’s not the right fit.“
On the other side of the salary coin, employers are offering a lot of money to lure job candidates. But there are risks to overpaying for unproven talent – not the least of which is being unable to match compensation for current employees.
Help employees understand the value of champions
A champion – someone internally to support an employee’s career growth and development path – is critical to the employee experience, JD believes.
“A champion who’s influential in the organization can help you get ahead, help you understand the obstacles, and how to get around and through them.”
HR departments and team leaders can educate employees about finding a champion – but the employee has to do the work of connecting, networking, and demonstrating their value to earn the relationship.
A well-rounded employee experience is essential
There are multiple tools, resources, and HR technologies that can help organizations support their employees. Although each employee will value offerings, programs, and benefits differently, one thing is certain – a stellar employee experience doesn't guarantee they'll stick around, but a poor one means you'll lose them faster than you think.