Undoing the Great Resignation: Tips for decreasing employee turnover

July 18, 2022

According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), approximately 50% of young hourly workers who participated in a recent study indicated that they would consider trying to leave their jobs within the next year. This is unfortunate news for employers, many of whom are still reeling from the Great Resignation of 2021, when employees around the globe collectively left their jobs en mass in search of greener pastures.

When an employee leaves their job, it's estimated that it can cost their employer far more than just the loss of their salary — in fact, the true price of employee turnover appears to be around double whatever the employee's salary was. This seems to many like a wasted expense, and one that should hopefully have a solution, for everyone's sake.

Indeed, not many people enjoy the uncertainty of being unemployed. However, when faced with the prospect of continuing to work at a job that might be especially stressful, chaotic or unfulfilling, sometimes the uncertainty of quitting becomes worth it. The good news for employers, as well as employees, is that there are ways to decrease turnover.

The same study referenced in HBR unveiled one of the most important factors in retention of younger-career employees: how they're treated by management. Things like scheduling and feedback from supervisors can be heavily influenced by whether the person in charge truly cares about their employees, and has some sort of personal investment in what they're doing. Surprisingly, the issue of fair treatment seemed to matter more to the surveyed employees than salary alone. Unfortunately, around half of employees in the survey (both male and female) seemed to feel as though they were not being treated respectfully or fairly by their management.

Beyond the basic human rights of respect and equality, employees in the study seemed to place value on opportunities for professional development and learning. Investing in employees' professional growth was seen as a gesture of support and encouragement. People who feel as though they are thriving and learning important skills are more likely to stay at their job for greater than a year, per the Society for Human Resource Management. If given the chance to be promoted within a supportive company, these same individuals would likely be inclined to stay. This in turn decreases the cost of employee turnover for the organization, and has been shown in other studies to increase overall productiveness and revenue.

Finally, another feature of workplaces that seem successful in retaining employees is a focus on developing a culture of inclusion, rather than just diversity. Basic human nature places a great deal of emphasis on feeling included, and no one likes to be the odd person out. This is no different in the workplace than it was in high school, and for this reason, employers must find ways to help people find common ground and shared goals with others in their office.

While the Great Recession of 2021 may have employers fearing continued employee attrition, there are ways to take control of the situation and work from within to recruit and retain employees who bring value to their organization.