- In April, four million American workers quit their jobs.
- While the uptick in quitting rates is a signal of economic recovery, businesses are now trying to figure out how to retain employees.
- Here is what Mass Mutual, Whole Foods, Clif Bars, and others are doing to retain employees.
Workers are now looking for jobs with more flexibility, autonomy, and the potential to work remotely long-term. In April, four million American workers quit their jobs, and companies are having to figure out solutions to retain their existing employees.
Generally, people will stay with an organization if the pay, working conditions, developmental opportunities, etc., are equal to or greater than the contributions required of the employee.
Employees want to be recognized for their achievements. Respondents to the SHRM/Globoforce survey, Using Recognition and Other Workplace Efforts to Engage Employees, agreed that recognition can help create a positive workplace culture and employee experience, and 68% said their organization’s recognition program positively affects retention.
While the uptick in quitting rates is a signal of economic recovery, businesses are now desperately trying to figure out how to retain employees, continue to make them feel valued, and stay competitive in the booming job market.
Here’s what some companies are doing to retain and reward their employees
On October 14, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company MassMutual announced a new program for employees in 2022 that will allow them to convert up to five days of unused vacation time into either a payment toward student loan debt or a contribution to a 529 college savings account.
With 65% of college-educated adults having student debt (cumulatively amounting to $1.73 trillion in student debt across America), this new benefit is aimed at helping employees navigate the rising costs of education and protect their financial wellbeing.
The program, which is flexible and voluntary, applies to any student loan debt in an employee’s name, including Parent PLUS loans. It also applies to an employee’s 529 savings account for any beneficiary to encourage savings for future education.
“As part of our commitment to continuously evolve our total rewards and invest in our talent, we are always exploring programs that employees value. Student debt can profoundly impact an individual’s financial, social and emotional well-being, while also having far-reaching effects on the economy,” said Sue Cicco, head of human resources and employee experience at MassMutual.
The Cadence workplace culture focuses on general world issues like sustainability, diversity, and pay equity. They foster inclusion and welcome professionals from multiple backgrounds and work experiences.
The company runs a College Hires and Internship Program to work with recent graduates who can get a first look at what a collaborative team environment is like.
The culture direction at Cadence has received numerous awards, including Great Place to Work around the world, Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, World’s Best Multinational Workplace, features in lists for Best Workplace for Millennials, Giving Back, Parents, and other recognitions.
They’ve also been supporting giving, sustainability, and worldwide causes through programs such as Volunteer Time Off, Season of Giving, and Matching Gifts. All of these allow every individual within the company to bring their own contribution to the cause of their choice while being fully supported by the company.
Patagonia’s level of employee retention is thanks to its work-life balance focus, shared values, and help for working parents.
Patagonia looks for workers who share similar values to the brand, including helping others and volunteering.
Given the nature of their brand, the largest company value is activism. All employees are driven by activism that gives them a sense of accomplishment. In turn, this helps Patagonia retain their employees since they offer the perfect environment for anyone who wants to leave their mark on the world.
The company encourages taking time off and paid sabbaticals and has been providing an on-site child care center since 1983:
Clif Bar has a 97% employee retention rate, and many attribute that to its five core company values: people, businesses, brands, community, and planet.
By putting a focus on their core values, they’re able to share a mission with their employees in order to work toward a common goal. Their employees feel a shared sense of ownership in the objectives.
CEO Gary Erikson and wife/co-owner Kit Crawford decided to offer the company up for employee ownership through an employee stock option in 2000.
They had been considering using private equity to buy out a third partner to prevent a large corporation from taking hold of Clif Bar when they decided that private ownership just didn’t seem to fit with the five core values.
Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey was frustrated with the social requirement in which employees are expected to look clean cut.
Many of the employees at Whole Foods have visible tattoos, or dress in bohemian and alternative style.
Employees are encouraged to comfortably display self-expression and identity, and Whole Foods famously has one of the best retention rates in the industry.
A case study into the retention rates at Whole Foods found this acceptance of personal autonomy to be an important factor in employee happiness.
Takeaway for leaders
The ‘great resignation’ is a real threat. A costly one at that.
The financial cost of losing an employee can represent between 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. But when employees quit, especially top performing ones, companies can lose thousands in lost productivity and decreased morale and engagement—which can lead to even higher turnover rates.
Leaders that wish to retain top employees (and attract new ones) need to take a note from the above examples.
- Care for your employees as much as you care for clients.
- Make it an employee retention strategy to offer bonus plans and perks that other companies do not.
- Invest in high-quality education and training programs, which will keep employees within your company for longer.
- Support diversity within the workplace.
- Encourage your team to be creative and come up with their own solutions to problems.