During ‘normal’ times, employees leave their jobs for many reasons, chief among them: they’re burned out, they feel undervalued/underappreciated, they are underchallenged, or feel they are poorly compensated for the work they’re doing. Now layer in the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, where morale is low and there are significant pauses on new hiring; employees are burning the candle at both ends to fill in… and burning out.
“Employees are leaving their jobs to pursue new opportunities in record numbers, making hiring and retaining talent a significant challenge for employers across the country,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer for The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
So how do you retain employees or at the very least fill the gaps left by attrition? Replacing employees is likely not the best answer. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) “estimates the average replacement cost of a salaried employee to be six to nine months’ salary. For an employee earning $60,000 per year, that totals approximately $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting and training costs. Other studies have estimated this figure to be significantly higher — as much as twice the employee’s annual salary, especially for high-earner or executive level employees.”
So, what is the answer? To quote Hilda Charlton, “take what you have and make what you want.”
According to McKinsey, “to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now.”
One way to mitigate (or rectify) a resignation Tsunami at your company is to offer reskilling or upskilling opportunities to your existing team. “Reskilling” gives your employees the chance to learn new skills they can use to move into different, lateral roles within the company. Reskilling helps employees become more valuable and provides employers with a more flexible workforce. For example, as more businesses move from brick-and-mortar retail locations to online presences, managers could retrain salespeople to be virtual customer service agents to support the new direction.
A form of reskilling called “upskilling” provides a higher level of education and training so employees can gain advanced skills to further their careers while still employed. More promotional in nature, upskilling gives motivated employees more avenues for growth and change and allows employers a measure of predictability in succession planning.
Reskilling and upskilling your employees creates a positive employee experience and is a win-win on many fronts:
Employers who actively listen to their staff use training opportunities — among other things — to keep their valued employees engaged. In today’s volatile retention landscape, managers can and must make the effort to help employees develop their career paths. Training empowers employees to contribute in new and different ways, rewarding companies with higher levels of employee engagement and rewarding employees with both the learning itself and the results of new skills — win-win!
Learning new skills and interests is a boon to employees as well. If they are given the opportunity to fill the gaps in, for example, operations and service delivery, not only will it increase employee motivation, it will give the individual a sense of personal accomplishment that will radiate into the team culture and increase morale.
Similarly, it’s been shown that learning new things — a new job skill, language, or hobby — builds confidence, beats boredom, keeps you healthy and can increase happiness… so there is tremendous benefit to both employer and employee when reskilling opportunities are put into action.
Increases Efficiency and Productivity
Training employees ensures a more well-rounded workforce, especially when cross-training to fill gaps.
Because upskilling and reskilling involves existing employees with existing relationships, employees can focus on putting new knowledge to work right away, instead of having to take precious time to learn the social landscape and form relationships.
Provides Cross-functional Insight
Gaining extra skills and knowledge can give employees greater insight into how a company operates, validating that every employee’s role is crucial to success. “Fresh eyes” from someone new to the area or processes can spur innovation, revealing areas of improvement that get lost in the everyday repetition. Another plus: training for a different position can offer employees a first-hand perspective of their peers’ daily experiences, which can lead to greater empathy and understanding.
Training and learning new skills allows employees to have purpose and make an impact to an organization’s bottom line. When employees contribute — and are acknowledged for their valuable contributions — engagement levels rise and team culture improves. This feeling of inclusion and positive contributions makes employees happier and more fulfilled, and less inclined to seek fulfilment elsewhere.