Is your organization experiencing an acute employment crisis right now? You’re not alone. Companies across the country are coping with a significant shortage of qualified talent. Burned out, overworked, and stressed about the pandemic, employees are quitting en masse, in what some are calling “the Great Resignation”. With many job openings languishing unfilled, and existing employees under great strain to keep up with the workload, we are approaching a make-or-break moment for companies and their human resources teams.
As hopeless as it might seem, there is one significant, underutilized strategy that can make a huge dent in your employment crisis and even better, that can set your organization up for low turnover and a great employee culture long-term.
Retrain, mentor, and retain your employees
In the midst of a serious employment crisis such as this one, long-ignored management and culture issues in an organization only become more apparent. That’s part of the reason it becomes more challenging to find qualified candidates in a time like this. The worse your internal problems become, the more obvious it is to candidates that you’re too disorganized to be worth their time. In many ways, the struggle to find qualified candidates is the result of the leadership vacuum plaguing so many companies right now. It’s challenging to find candidates with the experience necessary to take on responsibility; the more upper-level the position, the harder it is to find suitable candidates. But entry-level and lower-level employees also suffer from this dichotomy. Increasing workloads require them to take on tasks beyond their skill level, without the mentorship, training, or support they need to rise through the ranks and grow with a company.
Easily the best way to resolve a crisis of underemployment in your organization is to support your employees, mentor them, and hire from within. It can be tempting to oversimplify and claim that the current crisis exists due to generous unemployment benefits or the COVID-19 pandemic. But in reality, our current situation is a ‘perfect storm’ of years of unrealistic work expectations, stagnating wages, poor work culture, the pandemic, and poor management. Remember: hiring good talent isn’t worth much if you can’t retain that talent. In order to overcome this issue, you need more than new candidates. You need a cohesive strategy to retain the candidates you already have.
How to fix your broken employee culture
Evaluate your culture
If you’ve noticed a trend of high turnover and dissatisfaction among your employees, chances are that there’s a reason. Take a critical look at your company’s work culture. What kind of time commitment do you expect from your employees? When you hire new talent, do they have an accurate idea of what will be expected of them in their new role? If your industry is stressful or fast-paced, do you provide your employees with the support they need to function at a high level under these conditions? If you aren’t sure how to get a read on what your employees are feeling, you could try sending out an anonymous survey. Without proper support and leadership, even the most talented and hardworking employees will languish and become apathetic. You’re responsible for steering your organization in a better direction.
Reward and support good leadership
Likewise, you’ll need to support your existing leadership team in order to retain them. As we discussed, management positions can be some of the most difficult to recruit for. It takes years of experience for a person to be qualified to lead in a significant capacity. Also valuable is the specialized knowledge employees develop after years of working with the same company. So how do you support your leadership team in order to keep them in this highly competitive employment market? Ask them what they need from you. It might be as simple as a more flexible work arrangement, as is so often the case these days. It’s also a good idea to recognize them when they’re doing great work. Positive reinforcement is a highly effective method of motivation.
Offer opportunities for growth within the organization
A key element of employee retention is offering opportunities for growth for your employees. It’s hard to continue to motivate yourself to work hard when you feel stuck in your current position. Employees need to see a potential path of growth in the organization, otherwise, they may begin to feel disillusioned, frustrated, and unhappy. Offering opportunities for promotion does more than just keep your employees happy; by promoting from within and supporting existing talent, you’ll save money and time on recruitment.
Emphasize continuing education
Boredom and frustration are major barriers to career success and satisfaction. As is the case when it comes to opportunities for growth, without a healthy, productive challenge at work, employees can seek a challenge in the form of a new position. To address this issue, prioritize continuing education for your employees. Provide plenty of opportunities for them to upskill and learn skills that interest them. With training, your employees will be better suited to rise through the ranks internally, and they’ll be happier and more likely to stay with your company!
With these techniques, you can address employment issues at the root of their issue. Of course, it’s a huge task to solve your internal issues as well as the large-scale problems with the 21st-century work culture in general. Working on your internal policies is really the only thing you can control. When outside forces make it difficult to recruit new hires, work on supporting your current workforce. You’ll be better for it in the long term.