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Business Guidance

Back to the Basics: How do your company values impact employee retention?

By Rachel Leader | Johnson Financial Group

4 minute read time

As the world faces the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the workplace continues to change and evolve with it. While companies are navigating work from home and return to office plans, another key issue has come to the forefront – the so-called “great resignation”. As evidenced by the plethora of storefronts boasting “now hiring” messages and sign-on bonuses, employers have been confronted with the looming challenge of trying to recruit and hire new employees.

At the start of August, PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed 1,000 full-time and part-time U.S.-based employees and 752 executives, about 64% of whom reported they were seeking a new job. The workforce is rapidly changing, and candidates’ expectations are too. Gone are the days where an employer could rely on touting a ping-pong table and beer on tap as their only recruiting strategy – so what’s next?

Rather than focusing on the recruiting piece, let’s talk about the retention side of the equation. According to a Gallup poll , “the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary -- and that's a conservative estimate. So, a 100-person organization that provides an average salary of $50,000 could have turnover and replacement costs of approximately $660,000 to $2.6 million per year.” If the focus of your efforts is solely on attracting new hires without any emphasis on retaining your current employees, it could prompt some of your team to be part of the 64% looking for a new job.

As an employer, it’s important to understand the motivations that lie behind this labor trend. From what we’ve seen, the primary driving forces of this impending shift are: work-life balance, the relationship an employee has with their job, and whether they feel valued or not. The good news is that, as an employer, you have control over two-thirds of these items – work-life balance and how an employee is valued. While you can’t directly control how an employee feels about their job, you as an employer can have a large influence.

What can you do about both driving forces? Here are some ideas to consider:

Stay interviews

Engage in conversation with your current employees and find out what they like (and don’t like!) about working there. You may also consider conducting a survey to evaluate employee engagement.

Show gratitude

Recognize that your workforce is a key reason why your business has succeeded, and show genuine appreciation for their efforts. This does not only include financial incentives. An employer’s authenticity and sincerity will be a large factor in how an employee views the gesture.

Dig into your company culture

Despite challenging seasons, the best reason for an employee to stay with your business is because they feel connected to the company’s culture. Said another way, do they like what they do and who they are working with? The younger generations especially gravitate towards businesses that have a strong company culture where they know what to expect and what is expected in return – a lesson that can be applied to all generations.

Address pre-pandemic policies and return to office policies

View these from the employee’s perspective and see how you would feel if you were in their shoes. Do the current policies make sense, or where do you need to shift? Either way, ensure there is detailed and transparent communication of the “why” behind your company’s plans every step of the way. Remember your employees’ commitment and adaptability to change throughout the pandemic. Consider how you can promote flexible policies to ensure your employees continue to feel trusted and appreciated.

Evaluate and enhance your benefits

This doesn’t always mean adding a new benefit or spending more. Maybe the focus this year is on providing financial literacy tools or lunch and learns on how to use your wellness plan. Educational and professional development opportunities (virtual or in-person) can go a long way in engaging employees in the process.

These are the moments when your company values should be the driving force behind your decisions. Go back to the basics of who you are and what your company stands for – how does this impact the way you treat your employees? Because every employer is different and each employee has unique preferences, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. The best advice we can give is to encourage open and honest conversations directly with your teams to determine where you as an employer may have a blind spot or room for improvement.


Rachel Leader

Rachel Leader

Officer, Employee Benefits Consultant | Johnson Financial Group

As an Employee Benefits Consultant, Rachel works with clients to provide a proactive approach as it relates to their employee benefits program. She understands that employee benefits programs are not a one-size-fits-all, recognizing that an organization’s benefits should match a company’s core values.