What to do today, to avoid the hidden costs of a post COVID-19 world

Employee Retention

In our last blog, we examined the reasons businesses need to listen to their employees during and after COVID-19. Now we turn our focus to retaining employees and addressing preventable employee attrition in these unique times.

When Covid-19 first started, businesses had to make decisions about reducing their cost base. Some industries, particularly multi-category retail and personal services could foresee the impact and based it on a clear expectation that lockdown would smash their revenue and cash flow. Many companies had to take the difficult, but rational step of making employees redundant.

Whilst certain industries have done it hard, others have thrived on increased demand – for example logistics, grocery, essential services and emerging technologies that help to connect people remotely.

There needs to be a renewed focus on keeping employees engaged and loyal

Within these industries there is a need to engage and retain top talent to harness their growth opportunity. For those industries less fortunate and impacted by the pandemic, there is a need to avoid losing their talent in a situation where morale can be adversely affected. Could there be a mass shift in workers of certain types between the losers to the winners. For example, programmers, customer service staff, executives? It is quite possible.

Irrespective of which camp your business falls into, there needs to be a renewed focus on keeping employees engaged and loyal. The Society for Human Resource management estimates that the direct replacement cost of employee attrition can reach as high as 60% of an employee’s annual salary. They also said that net costs associated with turnover can reach as high as 90% to 200% of annual salary once other on-costs are considered.

In addition to financial impact, employee turnover on a large scale can be destabilizing for company culture – particularly within a remote workforce, where relationships can be paramount. It is a critical time to retain top-tier talent and ensure that high performing employees remain engaged, positive and motivated with their employer and experiences at work.

So what are some ways of minimizing employee turnover in a post-COVID-19 world? We believe that organizations need to prioritize actively managing working culture, listening to employees and practicing decisive leadership to maintain their employer brand value.

Fostering a Listening Culture

As we know, a culture of listening is something that is crucial for employee engagement and organizational trust. Developing a listening culture should be in-person or virtual check-ins. Conversational AI is unique in its ability to truly understand what is happening across the organization. As a technology and a mode of engagement it delivers a high standard for action based on evidence.

As was discussed in our previous post about employee feedback, following up on the information given is also a key to success – demonstrating to employees that their concerns have been heard, and that actions have been taken as a result of this to close the loop. When employees trust that their feedback is taken seriously, they are more likely to offer it in the future.

On the subject of listening, the recent changes to working environments may add an opportunity for managers to talk to their people about experiences working from home during self-isolation. This includes identifying challenges and offering organizational support, such as EAP or flexible working arrangements. When people feel their input and work is valued, and that their manager is interested and invested in their individual well-being, they perform at the highest possible level.

Taking a ‘we’re all in this together’ approach

As a response to falling profits and COVID-19 shutdowns, CEOs of companies such as Ford, Marriott and Lyft have forfeited large percentages of their 2020 salaries. The optics of this in the context of layoffs and cost cutting are important. It demonstrates leadership and adherence to shared values and belief that the organization is worth self-sacrifice. The intrinsic motivations from shared values and belief in leadership more than extrinsic rewards of pay. Our observation from our PeopleListening programs is that this is never more true than during a pandemic.

Remaining focused on attracting key talent

Even if a hiring freeze is in place, it is useful to continue to build the organization’s profile as a desirable place to work – at the very least, in preparation for scaling back up at some point. A key part of resilience is being able to regroup and persevere even in challenging times. This means playing the ‘long game’ with talent attraction anticipating that when the world returns to some sort of ‘normal’ the winners will need to have access to new people as employers of choice.

What kinds of actions has your organization taken to ensure you are retaining key talent during this time? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Want to know more?

If you would like more information on how The Evolved Group and our Employee Listening technology, please call 03 9670 1909, or email hello@theevolvedgroup.com