In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies experienced a trend that saw employees voluntarily leaving their jobs, known as the so-called Great Resignation. The current period also is witness to a push/pull between remote workers who want to stay home and employers who would love at least a part-time return to the office when it’s safe.
Still, it takes more than just remote-friendly policies to encourage top talent to stay.
That’s the finding of a recent report that takes a deep dive into how to motivate employees in general and telecommuters in particular to stay at their current jobs.
The research, conducted by Perceptyx, an employee-survey and people-analytics platform company based in Temecula, Calif., found that five in 10 remote workers surveyed said they would look for a new job if required to return to the office full time.
Still, seven in 10 would reconsider leaving if they were offered a promotion, while 50 percent said they would accept a 3-5 percent pay cut to continue working remotely.
Workers said their top reasons for staying at an organization were company stability, manager quality, team quality and social responsibility. These four rank just ahead of remote-friendly policies, which means companies have additional ways to avoid losing talent.
Brett M. Wells, Perceptyx’s director of people analytics, explains that of the 29 employee value propositions (EVP) — or benefits a company offers employees — a competitive compensation package, great health benefits and future career opportunities continue to rank high. At the same time, the economic and psychological trauma caused by the pandemic lifted company stability to top priority for respondents, along with their new favorite perk: remote work.
While employees’ rankings showed that they would love the flexibility of a hybrid work-from-anywhere policy, they wouldn’t want to have it “if it means it’s going to impact things like their career opportunity or the relationship with their manager,” Wells noted.
Last year, Codility, a technical-recruiting platform, went fully remote and made manager-employee communication a top priority, in step with Perceptyx’s EVP findings that manager quality is important.
“We’ve trained and encouraged our managers to be better listeners and to communicate to leadership what they are hearing from their people,” said Jason Medley, chief people officer at Codility, which has offices in San Francisco, London and Warsaw.
When the company found out that some people wanted to be fully remote and others thrived in a hybrid environment, they offered attractive flexible options. Employees can use office hubs in core cities whenever they like, or go to WeWork flexible shared workspaces anywhere in the world.
Other surveys, like one from London-based consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, demonstrated how companies were reacting to increased employee interest in workplace flexibility. The organizations reported that it was difficult to attract and retain managers (54 percent) and professionals (57 percent) when competitors offered a work-from-anywhere policy if they didn’t. Yet only 33 percent said they planned to increase workplace flexibility.
To retain employees, 49 percent said they were planning or considering increasing pay to match market rates and the same number were giving or planning to give larger raises.
Codility retooled its compensation strategy to be country-focused, instead of city-based. This would allow people “to freely move within their countries without financial consequences,” Medley said. “As many of our people will continue to work 100 percent remote, it’s important that our systems, processes and communication flows are successful within this dynamic.”
Another top EVP from the Perceptyx survey — team quality — has been a key focus at the software company Teampay, which shifted to 100 percent remote last year and is looking into long-term hybrid approaches for the future.
“The past year has taught everyone that flexibility and adaptability are key qualities for all workers,” said Leah Ward, chief of staff for the New York City-based company. “Hybrid workers have the opportunity to decide how to segment their work between remote and in-person environments, optimizing for their productivity and comfort. These freedoms allow more autonomy, and also require clear, intentional communication among team members around expectations for timing of meetings, documentation of decisions made and inclusion for folks joining remotely or in a local office.”
In response, the company focused on professional-development programs to let everyone sharpen their skill set.
“Whether it’s partnering with an online course provider for employees to self-select courses, hosting a company-wide training with both virtual and in-person participation options or creating budgets for employees to dedicate towards peer mentorship groups, there are structural initiatives any company can take to make upskilling attainable for their workforce,” Ward said. “Workers should explore all the options available from their employers to develop in their chosen career, and build relationships with their peers, managers and leaders in the company to find mentorship opportunities.”
Stemming the losses
Wells of Perceptyx notes that measuring a company’s EVP performance can foreshadow potential attrition at an individual and company-wide level. That means that quelling the Great Resignation requires a long-term organizational strategy with multiple focuses, since only 34 percent of workers said their companies excelled at all five of the top EVPs.
“Right now, with the war for talent, employers are doing everything to hang on to their talent because of this mass resignation. What we’re finding is that for those top five EVP attributes, if [the] company is not hitting the mark on any of those, only about 50 percent of those individuals intend to stay over the next year,” he said.
In comparison, when companies are hitting all five EVPs, their employees were staying at a 96 percent rate, Wells notes.
“These have a really big consequence on that Great Resignation we’re all hearing about,” he said.