Employee Retention in a Pandemic

In the 90s, it seemed like every movie portrayed employees as completely expendable. It’s given way to a stigma – that it’s easy to fire and hire staff without consequence because of the churn and plentitude of talent.

However, the trend is the opposite – we’re headed toward a talent shortage. Great employees are moving on when leadership, managers or company culture aren’t meshing with their career goals.

It’s called voluntary turnover, and Gallup says that the current cost to replace a single employee is roughly 2 times their salary. The cost is based only on monetary figures, but the article also mentions the non-tangibles that are affected – morale, training time, loss of team configuration, and more.

We’re in a pandemic, so while voluntary turnover is not happening at the same volume, the rigorous work of replacing a key staff member is scarier – and more expensive – than ever. So how do you retain your best folks and keep your bottom line focused on productivity?

Communication: A recent study on turnover says that communication has a huge impact on employee performance. Working from home, or in stressful essential working environments, makes communication more challenging and difficult.

  • Create video messaging that affirms your culture, commitments to staff, and mission.

  • Plan audio or video updates that transmit news, updates, and opportunities – and keep a regular rhythm. Don’t make these messages available on live meetings only. Record them and make them available on demand!

  • Speaking of repetition – just because an employee has heard or seen something once, does not mean they’ve had time to meaningfully retain it. Consider sending a shorter version of the message 2 days, 2 weeks and 2 months after the initial impression.

Training: Does your company provide opportunities for staff to learn or grow? If training took place in person before, it’s time to make it accessible and repeatable for those who’ve joined and stayed through the pandemic. Plus, we’re in the year 2020, it’s just time to do that anyway :)

  • Start with a pilot program – get your core message together and create the training as a PowerPoint presentation. You can record your presentation on Zoom and test it with staff for efficacy before investing in professional services.

  • Once the content is solid, partner with a video specialist who can make sure the training is polished, engaging and worthy of your team’s time. With ample accessibility to quality video content, your staff likely has a higher bar for what they expect to watch as training material.

Sales and Marketing Tools: Because of (gestures at the world) everything, your staff is likely struggling to meet goals for client and customer retention. Having to hit the same goals with outdated tools is a sure-fire way to foster frustration and disengagement. It’s time to make those connections via email, social media or over video call.

  • Consider digital marketing tools that any staff can use – explainer videos, awareness videos, or other short video content that shares your product/service. It’s the first impression we can’t make in person.

  • Provide adequate tech – headsets for the phone talkers, cameras for the presentation-givers. There’s nothing more frustrating than a presentation gone wrong for logistical/technical reasons – but it still could cost a key relationship.

Does investing in new stuff right now sound totally crazy? It might – but think back to the cost of losing a key employee. 2 times an annual salary of $50,000.00 is a far higher cost than the investment in better communication, training, and sales tools to retain your best workers. Be the smart company that thinks ahead, keeps the strongest folks, and powers through.