The struggle to attract and retain talent has been keenly felt in the B2B marketplace over the last couple of years. In the wake of the ‘Great Resignation’ business leaders are faced with a growing skills gap alongside a need to create a workplace that meets the expectations of today’s talent pool – from financial rewards to supporting hybrid working. However, there is hope beyond the current talent crisis. We’re entering a new era within the world of work which has been coined ‘the Great Re-engagement’ – an opportunity for businesses to refocus and create an employee experience that puts people at the heart of the employee experience.
What caused the Great Resignation?
As a result of months spent indoors due to the pandemic, people have had more time on their hands to consider their future, what they want from a career and what they expect from an employer. The true colours of many companies and their management shone through during the early months of the pandemic leaving many to consider a different future. In fact, according to research done by the CIPD and the University of Birmingham, 6.5 million Brits plan to quit their jobs in the next year in search of a new opportunity. 
What people are looking for has changed…
Flexibility in the workplace no longer just means finishing early on a Friday or group yoga on a Monday morning. It’s a whole movement towards a way of working that balances the needs of individuals and their employers (and clients!). A recent LinkedIn survey highlighted that 63% of job seekers claim that work life balance has the greatest impact on their job search with 87% of employees wishing to remain remote most of the time and 65% of global job searches focussing on remote-only jobs. 
Rather than taking the time to understand why people are moving companies and investigate the true causes of attrition, many businesses are jumping to well-intentioned quick fixes such as bumping up pay or improving financial perks without making any real effort to really understand what really matters to employees. As a result, rather than a feeling of appreciation, employees feel part of a transactional relationship which in turn reminds them that their real needs aren’t being met.
Today’s employees crave an investment in the ‘human’ aspects of work. Post-pandemic, many people have (or are seeking) a renewed sense of purpose in their work and personal life. And for many, the lines between work and personal life have become increasingly blurred. Social and interpersonal connections between colleagues and managers is a top priority however not necessarily in-person all of the time with remote working being another preferred choice.
Why it’s time to focus on re-engagement
Failing to meet new demands for employee autonomy and flexibility at work is the number one reason why many businesses are finding it difficult to retain talent. Employers need to make a concerted effort to better understand why their employees are leaving and take more meaningful, rather than transactional, actions to retain them. A recent McKinsey survey highlighted that the majority of employees don’t feel like they are being listened to. Business leaders can’t afford to decide their next moves in a vacuum – it has to be employee-led.
How to boost employee engagement
- Invest in wellbeing: When it comes to supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. However, there is a universal need to understand how your employees want to feel supported and a mutual appreciation between colleagues of the value placed on an individual’s wellbeing in the workplace. Employee surveys can be a good place to start to gather suggestions on how wellbeing and mental health support could be enhanced and the preferred methods of doing so. From this, you should be able to establish the specific support that is needed within your business and the ways in which you can successfully address any gaps or missed opportunities to make a meaningful impact for your team.
- Flexibility: When it comes to ways of working, every employee is different. Some may prefer to work in the hustle and bustle of an office whilst others may prefer working remotely. With only 13% of employees wishing to return to the office full-time, businesses need to support a more flexible approach to work if they are to succeed in attracting and retaining the best talent.  Consider having a multitude of flexible working options; from different office spaces, to working from home to working remotely abroad, see what works for your business model but consider the needs of your employees at the same time.
- Rewards and recognition: They say that a person’s greatest emotional need is to be appreciated. But for many employees, their achievements, hard work and long hours often go unnoticed. The good news is that there are many ways to make your employees feel valued. Try and introduce a reward and recognition system such as an Employee of the Month (voted for by your team) or organise an event to celebrate that goal being achieved or new business win!
- Gather (and act on) feedback: The best workplaces make strides to understand their employees through listening to feedback and conducting regular check-ins with their teams to understand what each employee needs. Most importantly, listening is nothing without action. This is ultimately the most important element because if you are seen to listen but not make strides to improve particular circumstances that are negatively affecting your team, the chances are your employees will lose faith and trust. And once trust has been lost, it can be difficult to rebuild it.
- Encourage open communication: Building good relationships with colleagues at work is one of the biggest reasons employees choose to stay at a company. When they feel connected with their peers, they are more likely to thrive in their role and continue to build their career within that business. Encouraging an environment of communication and socialisation through the creation of appealing social areas that spark connections is a great way to build a positive working environment and in turn encourage employees to stay.