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3 ways—beyond a better paycheck—companies can hold onto top talent

By rethinking the employee experience, employers may be able to hold off some of the pain from the Great Resignation, this eLearning exec says.

3 ways—beyond a better paycheck—companies can hold onto top talent
[Photo: PrathanChorruangsak/iStock]
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The pandemic has transformed how and where we work and has many employees thinking about a change.The economy suddenly favors job seekers looking for companies that invest in their whole selves. We’ve all heard the reports that more than 4o% of the workforce is considering a change, a prospect that can disrupt the bottom line. The average employee exit costs 33% of their salary—but it’s also a huge blow in terms of lost time and institutional knowledge, not to mention impacts to team workloads and morale.

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This reality is forcing leaders to reimagine the employee experience. We’re still in early innings, but companies cracking the retention code are ones that are recognizing that employee satisfaction and fulfillment are about more than a paycheck. Here are three ways to retain key talent:

Invest in Employee Home Life

From the moment the pandemic began, forward-thinking companies started to provide the support and resources employees needed to get through these unprecedented times. At my company, Udemy, that meant offering mental health support, access to telehealth, and financial wellness benefits. But as the months went by, we found that some many employees were facing unique challenges so we worked to implement more tailored assistance, 

For example, has someone moved back home with their family? Does a school closure mean schedules need to shift? Are there family health issues that we need to support?

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We enhanced our enablement initiatives by rolling out calendar invitations for no-meeting blocks, offering additional learning and development opportunities for managers, and supplying the resources to build positive virtual work environments. We also introduced “Wellness Days” where everyone at the company takes the day off to recharge. Organizations need to think more broadly than par for the course benefits; it’s about building muscle for a long-term transformation in the way work is done.

Rethink Internal Mobility Policies

In too many companies, employees are afraid to apply for a job opening in another department—worrying that it would be viewed as a sign of disloyalty to their current boss and team. They may be especially fearful that once they express interest, there will be a price to pay for wanting to leave a current position. Do everything possible to change this mindset. 

This old-school approach will do nothing but send good people packing. Make it clear that internal mobility is welcome, that you support their growth at work by expanding their skillset into different or emerging positions. This ultimately benefits an organization. Rather than having employees who feel burned out or unmotivated by a role, they can instead get excited about a new job—one within their own company.

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My company has taken active steps to create an organizational culture that encourages interdepartmental movement. We also encourage internal networking that can spark new and creative corporate connections. We’ve created an initiative on this front called MentorU, which pairs employees with more experienced people within the company. They get a skilled mentor dedicated to helping them with career development. In exchange, our employees have visibility into other opportunities within the company and can begin understanding where else their skills could be utilized. Their own career success translates to our success as well.

Prioritize Employee Development 

The third secret to holding onto stellar employees? Upskill, upskill, upskill. What does this look like? Companies should of course be fostering the development of technical skills (e.g., UX design, project management, web development), but they must also offer learning opportunities that support core skills like leadership and communication. Hard skills get the job done. But soft skills get the job done well.

One of our Udemy Business customers Pariveda, a consulting company based in Dallas, thinks about employee engagement and retention through the lens of internal talent development. They embrace shifting career paths and support employees as they map out the directions they want their career to take. Employees are encouraged to spend work time learning both business and personal development topics.

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As we learn more about crucial skill sets for the 21st-century, we know that so-called “hard skills” are only half of what’s needed to be successful. Today’s most crucial career “soft skills” like communication, team-building, and a growth mindset can, and should, be fostered in each of your employees. Helping them learn these vital skills will set the stage for them to thrive within your company.

Leaders that provide holistic support, from health and wellness benefits to diverse learning opportunities, will signal to their employees that they are as invested in them as they should be in their company. And this, in turn, will create more functional teams and a more dynamic, successful organization where individuals want to work.


Greg Brown is president of eLearning platform, Udemy, a repository of online courses in tech, leadership, wellness, and business.

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