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The “Great Resignation” is a concern for many businesses at present, with research indicating that more than 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year. During this fragile time, of post-pandemic recovery and ongoing global instability, businesses can ill-afford to lose talent at such a crucial phase. Yet it looks set to happen anyway.

Whilst companies are scrambling to improve retention strategies, it can be a case of too little too late for some disengaged employees. Particularly for those that are still reeling from how their organisation behaved during the pandemic. Whilst some may already have one foot out of the door, it’s worthwhile remembering that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There may be an opportunity to win back ex-employees in the future. Here’s how:

Salary and… 

Whilst moving job for a greater salary remains in poll position as a reason to leave an organisation, it is closely followed by other factors. Namely flexible working and extra days off. Businesses need to rethink packages that they can offer returning employees and it doesn’t only equate to financial benefits. This is particularly important for employees with care responsibilities, that have proven they can balance work and home life more effectively when businesses operate flexibly.

Tap into motivators

The pandemic made many employees re-evaluate their lives, bringing health and wellbeing to the fore. Many want to work for an organisation that aligns with their values, creating greater purpose to their days. Whilst organisations can’t change the nature of their business overnight, they can create a space for employees to bring their values to work.

For employees that are passionate about the environment, for example, enabling them to work on environmentally friendly strategies for the business or clients could help tap into their motivators. Equally for those that want to participate in charitable activity, paid days off to support other organisations could entice them to return.

Exit interviews

Conducting exit interviews and analysing the output provides valuable insight into why employees are leaving in droves. All too often exit interviews are considered as a nice to have, or an opportunity for the departing employee to vent their frustrations. Yet it provides important information on how to stop the rot and win employees back in the future. One senior leader or manager could be the main cause of losing numerous talented employees, for example. Businesses should then consider whether the trade-off is worth it and how to act if not.

Addressing the mental health impact of the pandemic

Whilst the main crisis appears to be behind us, Covid-19 is leaving a growing legacy of poor mental health in its wake. Depression rates have doubled since the start of the pandemic and burnout is at an all-time high. Using another adage of “change is as good as a rest”, many employees will be seeking new employment as a means of improving their mental health. Hoping for less stress and a better work/ life balance. Yet employees may be stepping into a new job where the challenges are just the same; it’s only the business that is different.

This presents an opportunity for businesses to win employees back, but it’s vital they address mental health concerns first. Giving employees the opportunity to utilise healthcare packages and creating a supporting culture, that allows open and non-judgmental discussion around mental health, are two such solutions. Working collaboratively with employees and returners, ensuring their thoughts are listened to, can help create more robust mental health provisions in the workplace.

Open to change

The pandemic shifted many employees off their axis; going “back to normal” isn’t an option. Employers that are trying to get back to the way business was conducted pre-pandemic will be met with resistance at best, or resignations at worst. When trying to entice employees back, it’s important organisations commit to open discussion. Listening, demonstrating a willingness to change, and collaborating to establish solutions that work for all will help to re-engage departed employees. Old ways of working are just that. Old. It’s time businesses refresh their approach, and be more open to change, if they are to successfully tempt talent back.

Whilst the “Great Resignation” has a certain doomsday ring to it, businesses can turn their fortunes around. In a case of “better the devil you know”, businesses may be able to win back departed employees. This doesn’t merely mean flashing the cash. The pandemic has forced many to re-evaluate what’s most important and businesses need to listen and act. Adapting in this way not only encourages “boomerang” employees, returning to the workplace, but it acts as an incentive for new talent to join too.