Four Impactful Ideas to Retain Team Members During the Great Recession

Is your business having trouble attracting and retaining team members amidst the Great Resignation? It’s not the only one. So far during the pandemic, the U.S. alone has seen over 33 million resignations take place. Anthony Klotz, the organizational psychologist and professor at Texas A&M University who coined the phrase “Great Resignation,” remarked that for workers, “It’s not just about getting another job, or leaving the workforce, it’s about taking control of your work and personal life, and making a big decision – resigning – to accomplish that. This is a moment of empowerment for workers, one that will continue well into [2022].”

A convergence of issues has created one of the greatest talent shortages in our lifetimes. With Baby Boomers retiring in large numbers, pandemic- and opioid-related deaths, low wages, limited or nonexistent access to child care, tighter immigration policies, and professionals reevaluating their life choices and priorities, it’s no wonder so many businesses are having trouble finding workers.

The good news is that small business owners can still implement strategies to retain and attract a strong team. Below, we outline four creative suggestions to consider:

1. Allow your employees the space to be human

American workers are demanding more from their employers, and leading businesses are listening and delivering. Beyond the usual benefit package of 401K, health insurance, vacation, and PTO, you may want to add on one or more meaningful perks like the five we’ve outlined below, which can improve work-life balance: 

  1. Flex hours – consider keeping “core hours” that your team should be online or in the office for, but give them the flexibility to work at a time when they’re most productive, or have the greatest availability of time, outside of that window.
  2. Work-from-home days – A hybrid work model is no longer the exception; more and more, it’s becoming the norm. Many people enjoy working from home, citing reasons like fewer distractions, greater comfort, and the ability to schedule home appointments without having to use precious PTO. 
  3. Pet insurance – According to the ASPCA, pets cost their owners $700 to $1,100 on average each year. Pet insurance can be a great way to add value to employee compansiation packages while also demonstrating that you care about the things that are precious to your employees. 
  4. Extra PTO – There’s a radical new movement happening in the workplace: unlimited vacation time. With this policy in place, your business is bound to stand out amongst competitors for top talent.
  5. Child care – any way to make child care easier on caregivers is a plus. Childcare providers like KinderCare can help you establish an employer-sponsored child care policy. Watch your employees’ shoulders relax in real time when they hear about this one.

2. Make “fun” a vital part of your workplace

It’s a known fact that employees will stay in a role, even if they’re not thrilled about the work, so long as they feel supported by their managers and teammates. As the leader, it’s your job to set the tone at the top and establish a spirit of camaraderie. Consider bringing in breakfast once a week, scheduling a creative team-building exercise like an escape room, learn a new (non-work-related) skill together, or celebrating birthdays, workplace anniversaries, and employee wins. 

Other perks to think about are holiday gifts, bonuses, free dry cleaning, free car washes, and employee discounts. An unexpected moment that surprises and delights can go a long way.

3. Embrace technology

Employees will always benefit from a better tool for the job, and your bottom line will, too. Ask around to see where employees think processes could gain more efficiency or use a more robust software. They likely have a better handle on what will improve their workplace experience, so check in with your team once or twice a year to make sure they have the infrastructure they need.

4. Apply marketing techniques to hiring

Instead of posting a simple job ad, consider creating a marketing campaign to attract ideal employees. Make sure your social media is up to date and mirrors the culture of your organization. Create a job interview process that’s interesting and enthusiastic. You’re definitely competing for talent, so find ways to connect with your candidates and make them feel welcome and excited.

While the talent shortage isn’t going away just yet, there are still strategies you can implement to keep the talent you have and secure additional talent. More than ever, people are looking for two things: work that feels meaningful and companies that see them as human beings–not just workers.