It’s a brand new year with its own new problems and new solutions. During a recent Narativ podcast, hosts Jerome Deroy and Julienne Ryan discussed what’s on the employee retention horizon for companies and the best way to tackle it.
Jerome said, “Today there are more people who identify as disengaged at work than there are who say they feel engaged.”
This is a bad sign for companies looking to hold on to their employees through the year, but it’s a trend that can be beaten.
Julienne, who recently contributed to bestofhr.com on this very topic, said that while there are a few trends going into 2023 surrounding the economy and hybrid work, communication is the key to her. “The most important thing people could be concentrating on is communication, listening, and building engagement in their group—no matter what is playing out in their work environments. And it actually becomes even more important to do it right—and consistently—when there is uncertainty in the market.”
Communication is critical to understanding your employee’s expectations, and expectations are critical to understanding how to meet those expectations and keep your people.
Benefits of “coming together” in an increasingly hybrid world
In the podcast, Jerome shared a story about a party he went to over the holidays. While there, he talked with a couple in their twenties who had first entered the workforce back in 2019. After being hired they were shifted to remote work within the year because of the pandemic, then as that started to clear up they were given a choice—come into the office or continue to work remotely. They chose remote work, and they now live in the south of France, traveling to make it to quarterly meetings that are held in person in Paris.
This sounds like a dream to many of us, especially when we think of our first few years in the workforce. While not everyone expects to end up in France, people now entering the workforce do expect to have a choice when it comes to remote and hybrid work. So, when we look at retention we have to think about how their expectations and employers’ expectations can both be met.
There are benefits to coming together, and there are benefits to working remotely. Finding that middle ground that allows for flexibility, cooperation, and efficiency is difficult, but simply forcing one avenue or another won’t make anyone happy. Julienne shared, “I still believe we still have to come together. And that’s something we have to make worthwhile, and not just because it’s a checkmark that you have to show up.”
Jerome said the couple agreed with that idea: They told him that the required quarterly meetings they had to travel for were actually incredibly important to them. Having an opportunity to connect with their coworkers and foster human connections was even more important because working remotely can be so isolating.
Jerome said, “We live for relationships. We are social creatures. That’s when you notice … the craving we all have for that human connection and just being able to be in person with others.”
No one likes to be forced to do anything, so finding where employees want to come together can help bridge the gap between them and their employers.
Employee Retention in a Possible Recession
Employees want to be aware of their options and know what’s required of them. This is even more important when the economy and the positions they hold become more uncertain.
“As we enter into what may or may not be a recession, we’re seeing the big R-word being thrown around.” As Jerome put it, the scary R-word running around is recession but the bigger focus should be on retaining our employees. “Whether we’re in good times or bad times, retention is still the real R-word to me. … How do we keep our people?”
Companies that manage to hold onto their employees succeed where others fail.
Julienne said the key is “seeing people, hearing them, and acknowledging them. … Figure out the gift of their talents or the thing that might be hiding in plain sight.” She continued that when the economy requires belt-tightening, creativity becomes all the more essential. Creativity will find solutions to new problems.
It also becomes vital to get points across quickly and efficiently. It’s easy to get distracted with so much happening. Jerome said in the podcast, “The story is more important than ever. Because without the story, all that noise … takes over. So the ability to come up with a story that transcends the noise is going to be essential.”
Through stories, employers can connect with their employees, enabling both parties to see the importance of coming together while understanding the priorities and needs of the other.
Employee retention tips to start the new year
No matter what this new year has in store for us, there’s one area sure to be a critical point of focus: Retaining the employees we’ve invested so much in.
When we look at retention and the outlook for this new year, Jerome said, “Pay attention to the human beings. The doing is great … but let’s pay attention to how we’re being. Are we being isolated? Are we isolating ourselves from others? Or are we connecting with others? And what are we doing in order to connect and engage with others?”
Find the stories of your employees and share your own. This storytelling will start to shrink the gap between employee and employer, which has become so large in recent years. The better we understand each other, the better the solutions we can create.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Narativ can help you engage your employees and connect with them through storytelling you can visit us here.