Headlines are filled with news that droves of employees are considering a new job once the pandemic is over. What is causing this urge to move? For some, it is the desire to escape the burnout of their current roles for a more balanced work life and greater flexibility. Others want better compensation and the opportunity to advance. Some want to make a difference in a job that fulfils new priorities while others simply want to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work.
54% are likely to quit if they are not afforded the flexibility they want – millennials two times as likely as baby boomers to quit
35% say better compensation and benefits are the main reason they would consider leaving
25% say work-life balance is the reason they would job hunt
51% worry their manager/supervisor doubts their productivity while working remotely - 44% say this has prompted them to start earlier or work later and 37% are skipping lunch breaks
74% wish they received more recognition at work - 20% say feeling underappreciated is hindering their engagement at work
Employee burnout is on the rise
Burnout was an issue before the pandemic, now it has intensified. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. employees report burnout, up from forty-nine percent (49%) in the early days of the pandemic. Leading causes include
39% balancing work and personal life
37% lack of communication, feedback and support
30% time-pressures and lack of clarity around expectations
28% performance expectations
Are you clear on the level and causes of burnout that employees experience in your firm?
Give your employees a reason to stay
Rather than fret over a potential exodus, take a proactive stance. Capitalize on opportunities that exist within your firm. Despite the apparent willingness to move jobs for more flexible working arrangements, ninety-three percent (93%) say they plan to stay with their current employer for at least 12 months. This positive news is not getting much press. Give your employees a good reason to stay. Use this time to strengthen or revamp areas in your practice that will entice your crew to stick around and reengage. Boost your firm’s recruiting through positive actions too.
Not sure where to begin? Here are seven steps to get you started:
Offer flexible work arrangements
To recruit and retain talent, make sure that flexibility is a central element of your firm’s workplace. Nine in ten employees want flexibility in when and where they work. On the average, employees expect to work between two and three days remotely after the pandemic. Get clear on your team’s needs. Your recruits’ and clients’ needs, too. Learn what times are best to connect and when they want to be heads-down, focused on important projects. Incorporate these preferences into your firm’s regular routines. An important note, employees are generally open to offer input but often feel their feedback is not acted upon. As a result, they do not feel valued. To get started, download the Private Companies Practice Section’s (PCPS) Flexible work arrangements guide, exclusively available to PCPS members.
Review compensation, benefits and recognition practices
Compensation and benefits ranked as the main reason many are considering new post-pandemic job opportunities. Make sure your firm’s compensation is competitive. Review benefits such as health care and paid time off (PTO). Use the Private Companies Practice Section’s (PCPS)/CPA.com National MAP Survey as a benchmarking tool to determine if you’re in line with other firms of your size. And don’t stop here. Recognition is paramount in recruiting and retaining talent. Eighty percent (80%) say a strong recognition culture makes a company attractive to work for and eighty-five percent (85%) say when they receive recognition it motivates them to work harder.9 Is regular recognition a part of your firm’s culture? Weave this important element of gratitude into your firm’s fabric by saying thank you for a job well done, telling stories of achievement in team meetings and hosting virtual celebrations. Do all you can to make your employees feel appreciated and rewarded for their contributions.
Talk about employee interests and needs
During the pandemic, many people reflected on their goals and priorities. Now it is time for leaders to understand what this means to each member of their team. Have one-on-one conversations and truly listen. Zero in on their objectives, what has changed and why. Discuss whether they desire refocused roles, if available, to better align with their current situation and goals. Then talk about any training and support that will help them adapt and thrive in this new environment. Consider using the Private Companies Practice Section’s (PCPS) One-on-one meeting agenda, exclusively available to PCPS members, to assist with planning and properly executing your conversations.
Refocus firm culture
With all that the pandemic threw at us, culture took a backseat in many firms as work from home became a necessity. Sixty-six percent (66%) say they would be more engaged at work if their employer improved company culture. Refocus your attention on this central area. Start by reviewing the cultural pillars in your practice, such as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), innovation, passion and teamwork. Flag segments that need revitalization. Carefully consider the stories you tell your team to demonstrate success, the way you onboard new employees, the tone of your gatherings and the messages on your website and social media. Make sure they reflect your culture and showcase the firm’s positive energy. Learn more about advancing your firm’s diversity initiatives with the Private Companies Practice Section’s (PCPS) Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit.
Provide clear, regular communication around expectations and workload
As your office plans for new routines, talk with your employees about their role and your expectations of them going forward. Be conscious of what you ask employees to do and the timeframe for delivering it. Make sure these expectations are realistic. Demonstrate your trust in them to get the job done, especially when they are working from home, so they do not add extra hours to their day to impress you. Check-in with them regularly about how their job is going and where they are struggling. Discuss possible relief strategies as needed. Also consider conducting a firm wide exercise using the Private Companies Practice Section’s (PCPS) Shared accountability worksheet, exclusively available to PCPS members, to incorporate accountability into all action planning efforts.
Encourage time away
With burnout rates off the charts, it is essential for everyone to take time away from work to relax and unwind. Seven in ten workers say they are saving their PTO for travel once the country begins to reopen.11 Help them understand the value of this well-earned benefit and make them feel good about using it. For those who are not comfortable traveling now due to a resurgence of COVID cases or other personal reasons, recommend a ‘staycation.’ Encourage activities at home or close by such as hiking, a spa day, visiting a new art exhibit, a picnic in a nature reserve, hosting a dinner for family and friends or participating in a favorite sports outing. Remind employees to stay unplugged from work so they can truly relax and protect their mental health.
Revisit your recruiting initiatives
Take a fresh look at your firm’s recruitment plan with new employee preferences in focus. Do your initiatives reflect the needs of the talent that you want to bring on board? Talk to those who have just joined the firm, including your interns. Get clear on what they are looking for in their workplace. Brainstorm ideas to improve your firm and its recruiting. Identify stories to share with potential recruits, placement offices and groups such as Beta Alpha Psi so they can learn why your firm is a great place to work in this new and different world. Update your website, social media and recruiting collateral for potential new talent to reflect your renewed spirit and culture.
Positive steps now can give your employees a good reason to stay during the great resignation and beyond. Don’t wait until it is too late to get started.