Job Doc

Are employees really going to quit post-pandemic? Elaine Varelas shares her insight

Whether it's because of new opportunities or wanting to remain at home for work, many employees may be eyeing greener pastures. So how can you get them to stay? Elaine Varelas suggests flexibility and development opportunities.

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Q: I’ve heard the rumors that people are planning to quit their jobs now that the economy is recovering and we are moving out of COVID, and I worry that my direct reports will leave. What can I do to make them stay? Will they really have better opportunities? Won’t everyone be rushing for the same jobs?

A: A number of news outlets have reported that companies can anticipate a mass exodus when the pandemic is over. The exodus is not based on the slow ending to the pandemic, but rather, the communicated desire that many employees don’t want to go back into the office. Many people are letting their employers know that they would rather change jobs and join an organization who will let them work remotely than come back to the job they have and return to work at the office.

As a manager, two of the top ways you can encourage employees to stay is to allow for a greater flexibility in where work happens, and to demonstrate that you value the contribution individual employees are making.

Many companies are conducting a comprehensive review of which jobs can be performed remotely, which ones entail coming into the office, and which roles can successfully deliver outcomes in a hybrid setting. Many organizations want to encourage teams to develop more strongly and hope to have employees on teams back in the office on the same days. Younger and newer employees also benefit from being in the office and available to senior executives who will give them opportunities to learn, listen in, and participate in meetings that they might not otherwise have been invited to attend.

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Demonstrating to employees that they are valued involves significantly more than just saying “thank you” or handing out token recognition awards – employees are really looking for development opportunities that will help them advance their careers, either with you or with someone else. They welcome skill enhancements that can range from shadowing other employees, mentoring programs, training, or executive coaching. These investments in your high-potential employees are one way you can encourage your employees to stay.

The question of jobs being available is really a question of desirable jobs: Jobs that pay well, offer benefits, and advancement opportunities. These jobs will always find people. At this point, employees will have options and many companies will need to change their practices by letting more and more people work remotely, raising pay, and helping them look at their longer-term career paths.

To the employees considering leaving: You should focus on and decide what matters most. Is it the location that you’re working from, or is it the ability to learn in your role and to be in a position to advance your career? Never assume your current employer will not let you do something. Always have the conversation. Speak with Human Resources or speak with your manager. Look for a middle ground on what your employer wants and what you want. Make sure that you’re a part of the solution and that you’ve been able to demonstrate how effective you were at working remotely during the pandemic if that is your highest priority.    

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