The Science-Backed Recipe to Reverse ‘The Great Resignation’

Posted in Best Practice Research Thoughts & Culture

*Don’t worry - This isn’t another article about ‘The Great Resignation’.

This is an article about fixing it.

 

By now we’ve all seen the stats ad nauseum - Over 3.5 Million employees have left their jobs every month since March 2021 (With a record-setting 4.5 Million leaving their jobs in November 2021 alone), and this has put a huge strain on businesses everywhere.

 

More than just hiring and onboarding costs, businesses are now trying to cope with deeper challenges such as keeping up with training demands, maintaining company culture, sustaining productivity levels amidst these changes, and keeping the current workforce engaged.

 

…and, with 62% of department managers (the very people with the biggest influence on employee engagement) saying they’re likely to start looking for new jobs in the next few months, we can safely say that difficult times may still lie ahead.

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Understandably, HR departments everywhere are being asked to come up with the solution.

 

Should we increase wages?

Invest more in company culture?

Give more PTO and resources for mental health?

 

Certainly none of these are bad ideas on their own, but they’re only individual tactics - not a strategy.

 

…and, if we’re going to attempt to reverse the global trend before us, we need to address the heart of the problem and not just treat the symptoms.

Retention is just the beginning

The internet abounds with articles outlining what we need to do to retain our current employees and attract new ones, and, while most of the suggestions are sound, these articles are usually lacking when it comes to implementation.

 

  • “Take your candidate experience to the next level!”
  • “Wow your talent during their onboarding and other transitions!”
  • “Reimagine Learning across your entire workforce!”
  • “Nail your approach to DE&I!”

 

Great…but how?

 

How do I effectively onboard people when they may never even set foot in my building?

 

How do I “Reimagine learning” when 85% of employees can’t even make it through a meeting without working on other things or scrolling LinkedIn?

 

…and what does “Wowing my talent” even mean?!

 

Let’s face it, these were all difficult initiatives before the switch to hybrid work, but how are we supposed to implement them when most of our employees are spread across the country and 69% of them just aren’t feeling connected to their co-workers any more?

 

Thankfully, the answer is relatively simple…and it works regardless of where your employees are located.

Find the consistency beneath the change

“The only thing constant in HR is change.” -Heraclitus (...paraphrased.)

 

Remember when adapting to an open office was a big deal?

…What are we going to do when our company starts having virtual meetings in the Metaverse?

 

Yes, the sudden jump to hybrid and remote work was huge and unprecedented, but it was just another change in a long line of changes.

 

…and the key to understanding how to protect your company from The Great Resignation is to recognize that there will always be changes, so we can’t focus on the changes themselves but on the underlying consistency beneath them.

Enter: The People Activation Model

The People Activation Model is the culmination of the latest research and findings in behavioural psychology broken down to help you understand how to use the science of influence, persuasion, and motivation — You know…the things that stay consistent despite workplace changes — to help your employees feel connected and engaged in their current position regardless of their specific work situations.

 

(If you’re interested in learning more about the model itself, we actually wrote the book on it.)

 

Our research uncovered that, in order to keep your employees engaged and drive meaningful action, you need to employ these 4 elements at the same time: Engagement, Nudges, Ease, and Connection.

…and here’s that “how” section you’ve been waiting for:

Remember, these elements are essential to human motivation - They speak to your employees’ basic needs and desires, so they work across all of your various initiatives and processes, from Onboarding to Offboarding and everything in between:

Engagement

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What it is:

Engagement is two-fold:

 

  • Your content is engaging when it draws your employee in and drives them to take action.
  • Your employee is engaged when they feel drawn to participate with your content and take meaningful action as a result.

 

…and the bar for effective engagement is only moving higher.

 

We used to have a more ‘captive audience’, but now we’re competing with all kinds of shiny new objects - The dishes need to be done, the sink is leaking, the kids are home sick, and YouTube is only a click away.

 

It’s now harder than ever for our people to engage with tedious, time-consuming busy work (like filling out forms or watching long video trainings) - and who can blame them?

 

How to do it:

To keep your people engaged at work and participating with the HR requests, programs, and initiatives you know they need to be successful and feel fulfilled, they need to feel like you’re talking to them personally and they need to understand the greater purposes behind your programs and requests.

 

Here are a few examples of how you can effectively make content that engages your people:

 

  • Personalize your content by persona: Your fresh out of uni grads will be interested in different content than your new parents.
  • Put the human element in your content by using engaging media such as videos, visuals and gifs.
  • Write like you were talking to a friend, not a robot (Use words like “use” instead of “utilize”.)
  • Encourage your hiring managers to be authentic with their new hires! Nailing the big first day will boost their newbies’ performance - so it’s a win win!

Nudges

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What they are:

It doesn’t matter how engaging your content is if there’s just plain too much of it!

 

[The average employee gets over 120 emails per day. Assuming each email takes 3 minutes to read and process, that’s 6 hours of email per day - and that doesn’t even account for other notifications!]

 

Employees today are drowning in notifications, so they’re being more and more selective about which notifications they engage with. Aside from just adding personalization, we need to be sure our messages are relevant and timely so they’ll be effective.

 

…and Nudges are just the answer!

 

Nudges are helpful, bite-sized, and relevant communications, delivered at the right time, with the right information. Nothing less, nothing more.

 

How to do it:

Remember, with Nudges, the timing is just as critical as the content itself, so be sure you’re focused as much on ‘when you’re sending’ as you are ‘what you’re sending’:

 

  • Send a message to a hiring manager with a link to their onboarding checklist 1 week before a new hire starts.
  • Gently remind your employee of a bite-sized training module that would help them complete their current Leadership Development program.
  • Ping a mentor a reminder to engage with their mentee after a set period of time.

 

Surveyed employees said a timely reminder about a task was the number 1 thing that would help them complete an HR task on time - so give your people what they want.

Ease

person leaning against the couch and typing on their computer

What it is:

Timing, personalization, and relevancy won’t help if the task is too difficult to accomplish.

 

…and, as it turns out, it doesn’t really take much for employees to give up on a task after all (43% of employees surveyed reported giving up on a task simply because they couldn’t remember a password or didn’t have access to the device where the password was saved).

 

Ease is just like it sounds - Reducing friction at every step so it’s easier for your employees to perform the tasks they need to complete.

 

Simply put, employees don’t leave companies because it’s too easy for them to do their best work, they leave because the processes and systems they have to use make it too hard.

 

How to do it:

Go through the tasks and trainings that you’re asking your people to complete - What steps are difficult to complete or harder than they should be?

 

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

 

  • Use your employees’ messenger of choice (Do they prefer Slack? Email? Text?)
  • Reduce the number of different system log-ins (Can you text a direct link to content instead of sending them to a system?)
  • Make each task easy to complete (e.g. use a One-click button to acknowledge a request or to send a pre-written message.)

 

Every step you take to remove friction, reduces the friction your people feel and helps them love their job even more.

Connection

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What it is:

Remember how we mentioned that most employees are feeling disconnected from their co-workers?

 

As it turns out, connection runs much deeper than just peer to peer conversations around the water cooler. Without connection, employees can’t communicate or collaborate effectively, and this leaves them feeling alone and much more likely to look outside the company for opportunities.

 

  • 84% of employees find it easier to do their best work, and 82% of employees say they’re more motivated to work on a project/program, when they feel close to the team they’re working with.
  • …and 75% of all the hybrid workers we surveyed said they need to talk things out with co-workers in order to learn something new or change their thinking.

 

It’s clear that a lack of connection doesn’t just hurt your project timelines, it hurts your people's development, engagement, and growth.

How to do it:

Again, engagement, nudges, and ease are effective tools at the individual level, but, to really encourage a feeling of belonging, we need to help our people connect, communicate and collaborate with each other well. Here’s how:

 

  • Take an audit of your current HR programs and communications - How are you orchestrating everyone involved in the program? How are you facilitating connection?
    • If this is not done effectively yet, be sure to revise your communications with this change in mind.
  • If you don’t already have them in place, set up mentor/mentee programs or buddy systems, and send nudge reminders to mentors or managers to ensure they’re keeping up with their teams to improve connection and morale.

 

Research confirmed that most formal HR programs appeared to have limited impact - but two practices greatly improved team performance more than any others: training in skills related to collaborative behavior, and support for informal community building.

 

So, if you want people to stay in love with your company, make sure they feel connected and work effectively with their teams.

Are you ready to bring The Great Retention to your office?

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The 4 tactics we covered are incredibly useful, but, if they’re not implemented properly, they’re bound to fail like the tactics we covered in the intro.

 

What really pulls the strategy together is the way you implement each of these elements.

What your people need most right now is empathy, so it’s important that you engage each element with your people in mind.

 

This means putting yourself in your employee’s shoes and seeing the work world from their perspective.

 

Ask yourself:

 

  • How can you make sure your people feel seen and heard?
  • Are they feeling overwhelmed? How can you help them cut down on the noise?
  • What are they struggling with? Where is the friction?
  • Are they able to effectively connect and collaborate as a team? If not, what’s stopping them?

 

Think about it - How would you feel if someone took this level of interest in you?

 

Nobody leaves jobs because they feel too heard or connected.

 

Follow the People Activation Model and your employees will be meaningfully engaged — no matter what changes lie ahead.

Want to see results faster?

We got you.

We built our whole platform around this very psychology and the 4 elements of People Activation to allow you to build and deploy effective human-centric journeys from day one.

 

Whether it’s onboarding, learning and development, change management, diversity and inclusion, or employee transitions, we’ve reimagined HR.

 

Get a free demo today and find out why our customers love Enboarder as much as you’re about to!

Come join the People Activation Revolution