empty office

If you thought the great resignation was a challenge last year, buckle up. According to the Qualtrics Employee Experience Trends Report for 2022, more people plan to leave their jobs this year than in 2021. Middle managers are most likely to find greener pastures. Only 69 percent intend to stay put, down from 83 percent last year. Women in middle management roles are particularly eager to make moves. They are three times as likely to find a new job.

Talent challenges bring great opportunities for employers. The Fast Company Impact Council predicts that “2022 will be a key year for companies to live up to their promises to employees, or risk losing them.” Certain themes are emerging for those who take time to listen to their people and respond accordingly.

Below we highlight five ideas for  leaders focused on retaining employees in the new year.

Above all, be flexible.

The pandemic proved that many jobs can be done just as well at home as in a physical office. Companies requiring employees to return to work (typically accompanied by a commute, more time away from family, and fixed office hours) will face a backlash. Qualtrics reports that 35 percent of people will find a new job if they have to work full-time in the office. If employees are not experiencing the flexibility they want with a current employer, they will seek it elsewhere.

Promote meaning through work.

Competitive wages will always be a significant force for retention, but other factors are increasingly more important to employees. Nonprofit workers especially seek meaning in their day-to-day tasks. Leaders can better engage them by helping to co-create purpose at work. “To attract and retain talent, employers will need to demonstrate commitment to winning the war for it by enabling employees to chart, pursue and realize their professional aspirations,” says Aditi Gokhale, chief commercial officer and president of investment products and services at Northwestern Mutual.

Prioritize mental health and well-being.

Sustained isolation has taken a toll on mental health. Even in a virtual work world, employees want to feel known by the people on their screens. Leaders who recognize the power of connection for personal well-being and productivity are better able to retain their people. Employees will stick with companies where they experience belonging. Nurturing a culture of connection is especially worth the investment this year.

Step up your commitment to DEI.

Diversity continues to be a major focus for nonprofit employers. The 2020 social justice movement, coupled by a higher number of women and minority employees losing jobs throughout the pandemic, have highlighted the need for organizational systems that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. In particular, leaders can craft unique retention practices for aging workers, women who are returning to the workforce post-pandemic, and underrepresented employees.

Get creative about loyalty.

In addition to the above universal tips, nonprofit leaders should brag about what makes them special. For example, mission, bonus packages, employee recognition and reward practices, social perks, and community programs can incentivize employees to stick with their employers. Learning and development opportunities continue to motivate workers, too. People who believe their skills are being put to good use and developed for the future are more likely to stay.

The Great Resignation The Great Retention

You may be weary of talking about the Great Resignation, and understandably so. But Covid-19 continues to impact hiring and staffing at all levels. Don’t wait until employees leave to think about how to keep them.