The Great Resignation revealed deep dissatisfaction with pre-pandemic employment situations. COVID-19 made people rethink their jobs, work/life balance, long-term goals, and working conditions.
Hospitality and retail front liners are among those who have had enough with this condition because of low pay and high stress. BLS’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed a total of 971,000 workers in the food service and accommodation sector (hospitality) left, while 721,000 retail staff resigned as of October 2021.
Although it’s hard to predict when this wave of resignations will end, employers can prevent their people from leaving by making adjustments in both their recruitment and their employee management strategies.
Before you continue
Subscribe and stay up-to-date with everything recruitment related by receiving a weekly content digest and email updates on new resources!
Why hourly employees are quitting
Below minimum wages were the top reason for high turnover. Last year, BLS listed median hourly wages for cashiers, retail salespeople, and stock clerks at $13.30. Meanwhile, hourly earnings in food services (hospitality) workers are almost $16.
Work-related stress is another reason why employees leave their jobs.
Restaurant staff handles multiple responsibilities in their daily work, even rendering extra hours, which can take a toll on their mental health. As per the Black Box Workforce Intelligence study, they are also prone to experience emotional abuse, disrespect, and harassment from customers, managers, and coworkers. They also don’t feel safe going to work because customers had to remove their masks while eating, making it easy to catch diseases.
Similarly, retail frontline employees had it rough —store closures caused attrition of 2 million people in early 2020 when the pandemic began. And for those lucky enough to keep their jobs, working became excessively stressful due to virus spread and everchanging daily situations. They also have erratic work schedules, requiring them to work too many or not enough hours.
Other factors cited were childcare (especially for women), higher-paying careers available in different industries like warehouse and logistics (due to shifting consumer behavior), the desire for a flexible work arrangement, the need for a steady fixed income, and the lack of professional development and promotion opportunities.
As the high level of employee turnover is predicted to continue this year, creating an inviting and comfortable work environment will be key to employee retention.
Employee retention best practices for volume hiring companies
1. Hire for fit
First off, you need to make sure you employ the right people.
Start thinking about the type of candidate who would be interested in working for your business: Do they have good listening and interpersonal skills? Do they have a guest-first attitude?
Get detailed with your job description. For example, when hiring a call center agent, how many years of experience are needed? What are specific skill sets required? Is it mandatory to have a background in a particular industry – eCommerce or banks? Outline the daily tasks and illustrate what success in the position looks like.
Going beyond the job qualifications, provide candidates with realistic job previews to manage their role and work environment expectations.
Arvato, for example, one of our customers, decided to implement Harver as a means of preselection and to focus heavily on providing a realistic job preview to candidates. Simultaneously, scientifically validated assessments ensured qualified hires that matched in terms of skills, personality and culture.
They took this approach because they learned, after analyzing exit interviews, that a misalignment in what candidates thought the job was all about vs. the real deal, was the main cause for employees leaving early.
Within the first 3 months, employee turnover decreased by 63%. In addition, there was also an uptick in the quality hire by as much as 85%. You can read the full case study below.
Along with realistic job previews, employers should use appropriate pre-employment assessments like personality questionnaires to ensure a good fit with the company culture. Situational judgment tests should also be part of your evaluation phase to evaluate the applicant’s fit for the position.
Finally, the first day on the job should be a pleasant and memorable experience for your new employees. Create good impressions by having a proper onboarding process. Draft a plan outlining their daily responsibilities. For the first week, allow the new hire to work alongside a seasoned worker to give them a good feel of the work’s daily routine. Schedule regular check-ins so you can address any questions and concerns they have.
Remember, companies with a strong onboarding process improve retention rate and employee experience.
2. Competitive employee benefits
National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti tweeted, “Workers are quitting to go take new, better-paying jobs. It’s not the Great Resignation — it’s the Great Upgrade”.
If your employees feel undervalued for the level of work and commitment they are providing daily, they are likely to start looking for a new job.
On the flip side, a competitive pay rate can motivate employees to be more productive, thus improving your bottom line. To ensure you’re offering competitive pay, consider the following factors: job title, experience level, industry, geography, and job availability.
If increasing wages isn’t possible, you can offer other options like increased annual leave, pension/health care contribution, saving accounts, hiring bonuses, performance bonuses, retention bonuses, commissions, employee referrals bonuses, and profit-sharing.
To build a strong incentives program, you should be aligning it with your organizational performance and average employee lifecycle, benchmarking it against industry standards, and reviewing and updating it regularly.
3. Career development
Career development is one of the top generators of job satisfaction. Whether the person works in entry-level or middle management, growth at a company is a critical factor for employee satisfaction.
In the latest Annual Global State of Frontline Employee Training research by Axonify, only 52% of retail front liners are receiving regular training. They reported feeling less safe, less supported, less knowledgeable, and less confident than the average frontline worker.
Training isn’t supposed to be a one-time deal. It should be a continuous process where employees can improve their current skills and learn new ones. For instance, excellent retail training goes beyond a session on using POS. It should also cover important soft skills like customer service and communication skills.
Managers need to monitor performance so suitable development plans can be assigned. Moreover, adequately trained employees contribute to operational excellence and compliance with the organization’s brand promise.
Marriott is an example of a company that values the professional development of its workforce. They offer training and development programs across all levels, focusing on developing role-specific skills and expanding employee knowledge to different skills and expertise within the company. These programs pave possibilities for career advancement for its staff and provide Marriott with a pool of trained employees they can place in higher positions as they become available.
4. Employee engagement
According to Survey Monkey, as many as 83% of employees are happier when recognized at work.
It’s always not easy for a restaurant or retail worker to see how their work benefits their customers or the company daily. Customers come and go. Most of the time, they say a quick ‘thanks’ before moving on. This makes setting up an employee recognition program a necessity to boost employee morale and retain them for the long term.
There are numerous approaches employers can take to show they acknowledge their best employees. For instance, when they go above and beyond, managers should make it a point to thank them.
Kimpton does an excellent job in employee recognition. Its monthly ‘Kimpton Moment’ recognizes Kimpton employee who goes the extra mile for a guest or fellow staff. The ‘Ultimate Kimpton Moment Winner’ receives a $10,000 cash prize for demonstrating Kimpton’s values at the end of the year.
When giving kudos to an employee for a job well done, make it regular, immediate, and specific to reinforce positive behaviors and boost motivation.
You can also offer points-based recognition and personalized rewards for meeting goals or behaving in ways that align with company values. Some of the most popular employee recognition ideas include a promotion, all-expense-paid time off, flexible scheduling, tickets to exclusive events, and educational programs.
If you don’t have the budget to launch a formal employee recognition program, a simple email or sticky note with a ‘Thank You’ can go a long way to make a good employee special.
Engaged employees are less likely to leave, so this is an investment worth making.
The great resignation can be discouraging for a lot of employers. Just like you, your competitors are most likely struggling to keep their staff on top of other business challenges.
Employment should turn around soon with increased vaccinations and other economic recovery strategies.
Your employee retention plan should include a sound hiring process, competitive compensation package, robust learning and development opportunities, and strong employee recognition initiatives so you can keep your workforce happy, satisfied, and less likely to leave you.
Start data-driven hiring.
Learn how you implement a modern candidate selection process, that is: streamlined, experience-driven and backed by data.