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How To Retain Employees? 5 Strategies To Solve the Hiring Manager's Conundrum This pandemic has brought to the surface a new phenomenon where change is the norm and stability is quite passé

By Rituparna Chakraborty

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Reaching the office at 8 am, I was welcomed by two crisp emails from team members seeking a 'quick personal discussion'. I could pretty much anticipate the content of this discussion as it has been a regular feature over the past two quarters. As human resources has begun nudging employees to return to offline work, there has been a significant rise in attrition with employees exploring other avenues.

Gone are the days when people's association with their workplace spanned over a significant part of their adult lives only to conclude with retirement. This pandemic has brought to the surface a new phenomenon where change is the norm and stability is quite passé. These capricious times have introduced us to a whole new lexicon of terms such as the great attrition, moonlighting, side hustle, quiet quitting, quiet firing and quick quitting to name a few. These new workplace trends are clear indicators of troubled waters and warrant a relook into employee engagement policies. The global talent crunch has further tipped the scales in favor of employees, who seem to hold all the cards.

How does one reconcile this situation to arrive at a win-win solution for all the parties concerned as the success and longevity of an organization are directly dependent on its workforce? Happy and dedicated long-term employees are an asset to the organization as they bring a sense of stability and continuity in manufacturing and client relationships which are good for business. Hiring managers are struggling with how to attain this forbidden fruit of long-term employment amidst the plethora of new opportunities and the characteristic short attention spans of the workforce today.

Below are the five strategies that will help organizations recalibrate their relationship with employees to create an environment of mutual growth and long-term partnership.

Active listening is the key: We are all social animals with an innate need to be seen and heard. All long-term relationships are sustained by feeding this basic human need. If you can create an environment where people feel heard and their opinions valued, you are most likely to inspire loyalty to yourself and the organization. This will help mitigate situations of quiet quitting where work is reduced to a monotonous completion of listed tasks without much attention and involvement. It is necessary to inculcate a culture where people can openly share opinions, concerns, and suggestions, which in turn are acknowledged, addressed, and implemented. This is the first step to removing the sense of disengagement that is rampant among the working class today.

Be flexible: The pandemic has created numerous logistical challenges for people while at the same time it has also revealed the feasibility of different kinds of work arrangements. In such a scenario it is unwise for employers to exercise rigidity and demand physical presence in the office. On the contrary, you must invest trust in your people and support them with the tools and technology required to deliver excellence. Allowing flexible, hybrid, and asynchronous working arrangements will ensure the optimum utilization of resources and can facilitate the prioritization of work and life to achieve the perfect balance.

Celebrate together: Validation is very important for most people and is a huge incentive to work hard. Recognizing, rewarding and celebrating good work transforms it from being an individual activity to that of a collective group. This helps to create a sense of belonging and team spirit which will go a long way in mitigating the isolation that came in the wake of the pandemic and creating long-term associations.

Design a mutual growth plan: The recent upsurge in cases of moonlighting and side hustles are clear indicators of a disconnect between organizational requirements and employee capabilities. These trends are red flags indicating underemployment or underutilization of available resources. The hiring manager must be able to align the organization's needs with the employee's skills and capabilities. They must have a clear understanding of the talents and future aspirations of their people. This will enable them to create strategies where the business and the team can grow together.

Enable lifelong learning for professional growth: It is essential for hiring managers to design a growth path for their team members within the organization. In the absence of such a growth plan, individuals are likely to lose initiative and look for growth prospects outside the organization. Companies can invest in learning and development programs for their employees that involve partnering with reputed organizations to design targeted courses, certifications, and assessments. They can also look at encouraging employees to enroll in post-graduate programs to enhance existing skills or cultivate new skills and capabilities. These measures will go a long way in keeping employees motivated and engaged for long periods of time.

The modern workplace is an amalgamation of different generations comprising Millennials, GenZ, and Gen X, each with different priorities and a diverse work ethic. The secret to connecting all these varied sensibilities is best articulated by Richard Branson, "Take care of your employees and they'll take care of your business. It's as simple as that."

Rituparna Chakraborty

Co-founder and executive director, TeamLease Services

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