The effects of COVID-19 have undoubtedly put a strain on employer-employee relations across industries. While employees have been dealing with numerous workplace changes, such as remote work, reduced or altered work hours and virtual meetings, employers have been struggling with productivity and market concerns, all while trying to maintain effective employee engagement.

As the pandemic starts to diminish and the workplace (and world) begins to normalize, the looming uncertainties may tempt even your most loyal employees to look for new job opportunities. In fact, our latest employer brand research study reveals that 22% of the workforce expects to leave their current job in 2021.

Fortunately, there are several action steps managers can take right now to learn how to retain staff and improve employee engagement.

1. re-evaluate salaries and benefits to stay competitive

The midst of a global pandemic may seem like the wrong time to increase salaries and upgrade benefits. The reality is that low wages and reduced benefits could end up costing your company more money in the long run. The cost to recruit, onboard and train new team members can quickly add up when multiple employees leave the company, not to mention the damage it can do to employee morale, job satisfaction and your employer brand reputation.

Managers can reduce the risk of this mass exodus by taking the time to re-evaluate salaries and benefits. This re-evaluation is especially important for employees with high-demand jobs because the average wages for these positions have changed significantly since the pandemic. Our Randstad salary guide can help you compare your current salaries to those of your competitors and help you set pay levels that can entice your workers to stay.

It’s equally important to re-evaluate employee benefits since the needs of workers have also changed. Certainly, healthcare benefits have become more important than ever, but employees are also concerned about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, job security and other issues.

2. create a positive work culture, even remotely

If you’ve ever considered revamping your company’s work culture, there’s no better time to do so than right now. Employees aren’t only anticipating changes in the workplace, but many are also embracing them. The reality is that for some employees, a fresh start, or at least the perception of a fresh start, is exactly what they want.

Many Canadian employees want to continue working from home indefinitely. Having some or all of your employees working remotely will undoubtedly make building a new work culture more difficult, but not impossible. It’s important to create an inclusive workplace to ensure that even your remote employees feel engaged. Use effective communication tools and analyze employee feedback on a regular basis to check engagement levels.

3. provide support for mental health and well-being

Many stressors, such as illnesses and the fear of disease, isolation, job insecurity and homeschooling, have plagued nearly every worker across the country. While the full impact of COVID-19-related stressors on Canadian workers is yet to be realized, it’s safe to say that many employees are struggling with both mental and physical well-being.

These high stress levels could have a negative impact on your company’s bottom line, whether you realize it or not. Factors, including reduced productivity, higher absenteeism and increased employee turnover, will certainly put your company at a significant disadvantage in a post-pandemic market.

You can help alleviate some of these issues and reduce the negative impact on your business by making mental and physical well-being a priority. Start by providing your workers with various tools and resources, including telehealth options, virtual workshops and relevant training opportunities.

Secondly, offer your employees some level of flexibility, if possible, to help them better manage their work-life responsibilities. Finally, managers should conduct frequent check-ins with remote and in-house workers to assess their well-being, prevent isolation and determine their needs.

4. offer opportunities for advancement

Even before the pandemic, employees considered advancement within the workplace important, but our research shows that the value of career growth is even more valuable to today’s workers. If your company doesn't already have structured pathways for advancement, now is the time to start building them.

Strategies such as in-house training, continuing education or tuition reimbursement, and mentorships can help jump-start a career development program. Keep in mind that advancement opportunities should focus not only on job titles and workplace responsibilities but also on salary increases.

5. pick the right employees from the start

One of the best ways to improve employee retention rates across the board is to make better hiring decisions. All too often, hiring managers select candidates based solely on education and experience without considering how they will fit with the team. Unfortunately, this misstep can lead to higher turnover rates.

Creating a recruitment plan that prioritizes job fit can ensure you select the right candidate the first time. This process is more than just a simple personality test; it involves carefully filtering through applicants to find the right ones. Our team at Randstad has years of experience in helping employers hire the right candidates. We can work with you to help you improve hiring decisions and retention rates.

6. be open to adaptation and innovation

Many Canadian workers have spent over a year isolated with remote work and limited exposure to friends, family members and co-workers. These employees are tired of the same thing and are looking for a fresh start. To meet their needs, it’s vital that your company adapt and evolve with the post-pandemic market.

Find ways to help your employees expand their skills by encouraging employee input, act on employee feedback, and give your workers the freedom to explore meaningful projects within the workplace. Embracing change as workers adjust to a post-pandemic workplace can give your employees that fresh start they need and deter them from looking for jobs elsewhere.

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Learn how Randstad can help you retain employees and boost workplace engagement today. Check out our guide on the skills of the future and preparing your workforce for the future.

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