The Great Resignation: How to Create a People Strategy to Retain Your People
‘Now more than ever, people are expecting their employers and leaders to empathise with their unique challenges. But business leaders may be out of touch with what their employees need.’
The 2021 Work Trend Index
Workplace change during the pandemic, including furlough and increased remote working, have changed employee attitudes and encouraged many to review their job, priorities, work engagement, and personal situations. The adage of ‘Life’s too short’ has perhaps never been as prevalent among the workforce as it is now. Named the ‘Great Resignation’, this work and life evaluation is encouraging workers to review their job and employer and contemplate chasing their dreams instead.
So, what can you do to engage and retain your top talent? It’s not just about employee engagement; it’s bigger than that. It’s about the employee experience, and it’s unlikely you’re going to put up much of a fight against the Great Resignation if you don’t plan and create an effective people strategy now.
How the UK Workforce Has Been Affected
There’s been a yoyo effect on employment and unemployment during the pandemic. September to November 2020 recorded the highest number of redundancies on record in the UK, and unemployment spiked in 2020 due to furlough schemes, with those aged 16-24, women, ethnic minorities, and disabled workers experiencing a high drop in employment.
The Reality of the Great Resignation
The 2021 Work Trend Index study highlights how much the pandemic has shifted the mindsets of workers. Over 40% said they were considering leaving their employer in 2021, and 73% said they want flexible remote working options to continue. But the added complexity is the 67% who said they want more in-person time with their teams. So, it seems that increased flexibility and hybrid working may be your focus in the future workplace.
This insight is what you need, as a people strategy is vital to fathom what makes employees tick and retain them when they seek change.
What is a People Strategy?
A people strategy focuses on the workforce and the relationship you have with your people. It should align with business goals and strategy and consider how to optimise the people and skills in the business and retain, develop and engage them. It will also ideally focus on deeper workforce issues, including diversity and inclusion.
By creating an effective people strategy, you will put people at the centre of your business and highlight them for what they are; an integral part of your business, growth, and ultimately, success. If you don’t focus on your people during this time, then the Great Resignation could hit you hard as your employees move to employers who do understand them.
You should base your people strategy on your current talent and the people you want to hire, so it should get you thinking about attraction and retention. Companies that fail to address their people strategy may be the most affected by the Great Resignation.
A People-First Approach to Fight the Great Resignation
There’s little point in hours perfecting your business strategy if you don’t use the same energy for your people strategy! If your people strategy is well planned and articulated, it should align with the business strategy and be an extension of this. Quite simply, your culture and leadership style must be human-centric, and a well-planned people strategy will ensure this by focusing on what’s important to retain your people.
The Importance of the Digital Employee Experience Post Pandemic
A number of factors can influence the employee experience, including the technology and tools provided by you, your commitment to an employee’s health, wellbeing, and development, and the physical environment in which they work. If you get these areas right, then you’re already challenging the Great Resignation.
The digital employee experience focuses on the interaction between an employee and their digital workplace (including digital support, tools, and effectiveness) throughout their employment. The digital experience, like many aspects of work, will be more important to some than others, but it’s a critical component to get right for employee engagement and should factor in the people strategy.
According to Salesforce, digital employee experience is so relevant to today’s workplace that 71% of employees look for a company that can offer the same technology standard as they use at home. Furthermore, their research highlights that high-performing companies are four times more likely to include employee experience improvement as a ‘critical priority.
5 Steps to Design Your People Strategy for the Great Resignation
Use People Analytics
No one said a credible people strategy would take ten minutes to create, but if you want to fight against the Great Resignation, you need in-depth information about your workforce to understand them. A good place to start is to use people analytics. To build a clearer picture of how the people strategy will look, include quantitative data (e.g., sick days, diversity and turnover) and qualitative data such as feedback or interview information from managers.
Analyse the Information
Next, you can review the information you have collected and look for patterns, problems, concerns and work through solutions that relate to the approaching crisis, Great Resignation. You’ll never be able to identify every possibility, but it’s important to look ahead by predicting some of the future issues you foresee through the current trends. It’s a bit like a SWOT analysis where you seek issues and solutions and attempt to plug the gaps before they occur.
Understand Your People
Although no company has the time to understand and grant every employee’s needs, you must understand what your people want in the post-pandemic workplace to understand and tackle the root causes of the Great Resignation. You need to be on the same page as your people; otherwise, the employee experience will never improve.
A study by WorkNest HR, including senior managers and employees, highlights the different perceptions employers and employees can have and how people's feedback is crucial to success. They found that only half of the employees felt employee engagement improved due to the pandemic, yet most managers did. Worryingly, 42% of managers believed trust would increase in 2022, but 38% of employees predicted trust would decrease.
How to Gain Employee Feedback
Employee feedback is essential for a successful people strategy, and there are various ways to collect it. It’s vital to get a good cross-section of the workforce if you don’t include everyone to gain diverse feedback. Feedback might come from employee feedback surveys or pulse surveys, or even a happiness barometer.
Whatever the method, by including your people and giving them a say, you’re letting them know their feedback is important.
Managing the People Strategy
Once you’ve done all the hard work of the data analysis and people feedback, you need to manage the people strategy. If you have employee engagement survey feedback, communicate it with your people and let them know your proposed action plans. For example, you might create a visual people strategy that you can share with employees and future hires.
And don’t forget about it. Live and breathe the people strategy, so it’s embedded in your culture. Then, overtime review and adjust it so that it is always current and representative of your people.
If you want your company to meet business objectives, it’s essential to create a people strategy that focuses on your people. If you don’t listen to them, develop them, or present the employee experience they are seeking, you risk falling victim to the Great Resignation. Commit to your people plan and ensure it enhances your people’s skills and develops them and adapt to change because, after the pandemic, you never quite know the next challenge.
Sorwe offers you all the solutions your company needs in designing an effective digital employee experience. You can contact us to benefit from Sorwe solutions and discuss what’s right for your business.