Can Internal Comms Thwart Post-Pandemic Job Hopping?

🚨 RED ALERT!🚨

Your recruiting department is about to get crushed backfilling the roles of departed employees. Employee Comms can ease the pain by creating content and experiences that can help mitigate attrition.

Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey conducted by Morning Consult in March 2021 has some eye-popping statistics about how workers feel about staying with their current employer.

Some highlights:

  • 42% of current remote workers say if their current company does not continue to offer remote work options long term, they will look for a job at a company that does.
  • 26% say they plan to look for a job with a different employer once the threat of the pandemic has decreased.
  • 59% have sought out skills training on their own since the start of the pandemic
  • Among those planning to seek new employment post-pandemic, 80% say they are concerned about their career growth.
  • 42% of workers with plans to leave their current employer graded them a “C” or below for their ability to maintain employee connectedness and culture during the pandemic.
  • 87% of American workers who have been working remotely during the pandemic would prefer to continue working remotely at least one day a week, post-pandemic. Among all workers, 68% say a hybrid workplace model is ideal.
  • Download the report.

Brett Williams, 33, a lawyer in Orlando, summed up the pandemic mood of remote workers in an interview with The New York Times:

“I realized I was sitting at my kitchen counter 10 hours a day feeling miserable,” he said. “I just thought: ‘What do I have to lose? We could all die tomorrow.’”

So he quit, leaving behind a partner position and a big-firm salary to take a job at a small firm run by his next-door neighbor, and to spend more time with his wife and dog.

What is to be done? “Leaders must be focused on cultivating thriving cultures of internal mobility, prioritizing continuous learning, and delivering robust benefits to support their workers,” advises Rob Falzon, Prudential vice chair.

How Internal Comms Can Help

To reiterate a stat noted above: 26% of workers say they plan to look for a job with a different employer once the threat of the pandemic has decreased.

To help mitigate the expected balloon in attrition rates, employee comms can contribute to at least five efforts that might sway employees who are on the fence: surveying, telling stories, promoting resources, fostering connections, and activating employees.

Surveying

Why are employees thinking about leaving? What’s going wrong? You can’t effectively manage what you haven’t measured.

Employees are inclined to skip the survey altogether or to not take it seriously if they never see results and actions taken from previous surveys. So follow up; let them know employees are being heard and execs are doing something about it.

After assessing 80 platforms, Digital.com picked these as the best online survey tools for 2021:

Alchemer | Betterworks Engage | FormAssembly | Google Forms | LimeSurvey | QuestionPro | Snap Surveys | SoGoSurvey | Survey Anyplace | SurveyMonkey | Survey Nuts | SurveyPlanet | SurveyLegend | Typeform | Zoho Survey

Keep in mind that survey fatigue is real, so you can’t ask too many questions too many times.

  • Tuck your surveys or polls into existing comms, such as newsletters, chat rooms, intranet home pages, and departmental notes.

Storytelling

Aside from compensation, the Prudential survey found that workers who are planning to look for new jobs rank more flexible work schedules, mobility opportunities, and remote work options as top ways to encourage them to stay.

Internal mobility can be promoted through storytelling. Use your platform to show how employees have thrived through non-traditional career growth and progression, or how employees have grown in their roles. These kinds of stories can inspire employees who are thinking about something new in their company or role…or looking at options.

Promoting Resources

It’s not your job to create learning programs, but it is your responsibility to communicate their existence to employees. According to the Prudential survey:

  • Nearly half of workers (46%) say the pandemic caused them to reevaluate their skill sets, and 1 in 5 (19%) say it has made pursuing education or learning a new skill a greater priority.
  • Many workers continue to see adaptability and a willingness to learn (40%) as one of the most important skills workers will need in their careers.
  • Only 48% participated in employer offered skills training in the past year — down 10 percentage points from 2019.

Let your employees know about your homegrown learning programs, subscriptions to journals, magazines, and websites, and about your partnership with LinkedIn Learning and Coursera. Pepper your stories, newsletters, digital signage, podcasts, and every other channel with reminders of this career-changing free perk!

  • Bonus: This is a measurable effort. You can count whether a piece of communication led to more signups, downloads, requests for content, etc.

Connecting Employees

Remote workers’ connection to company culture has improved, according to Prudential. Almost half (47%) say they feel connected to their company while working remotely — up from 36% at the start of the pandemic.

  • However, 45% of remote workers still report feeling disconnected.

Recreating the watercooler effect has been one of the most difficult conundrums faced by HR and employee comms during the pandemic. In our evolving WFH/remote/hybrid workplace, CEOs across the board are lamenting the lack of spontaneity, collaboration, and serendipity that happened in hallways and at lunch tables IRL.

Remind employees of programs and tools that help connect people — chat groups, AMAs, employee resource groups, and so on. Highlight a unique Slack channel each week in your newsletter; ask senior leaders to give a shout-out to their favorite “fun” (non-work) Zoom channel or Yammer group during a town hall.

  • Any attempt to re-create the watercooler experience feels contrived and is doomed to fail. Don’t force it. Employees will find ways to gab, vent, gossip, and ideate. Let it happen.

Activating Employees

If you have a strict social media policy, now might be the time to loosen up. Employees are your organization’s best advocates. Outsiders trust employee opinions way more than press releases and carefully written blog posts that promote the company’s awesomeness.

If workers really love their job, help them promote the company on social media. Allow tweets, LinkedIn posts, and Instagram pics from employees touting how proud they are of their company and their coworkers; allow them to use hashtags and call out your org with @.

  • Not only are you facilitating authenticity in social media, but you’re also helping recruit potential employees who want to work with a winning company and cool, capable coworkers.
  • Platforms like Dynamic Signal can help scale an employee-driven social media project.

These are just five ways you can help mitigate the expected increase in employee attrition. (Measuring how much you helped is a topic for another day.) There are other ways employee comms can help, too, such as decreasing noise or assisting execs deliver clearer, targeted, consistent messages.

The point is that once it becomes safer for us to circulate and economies open up, employee churn will be a big problem for companies. Employee comms can assist with retaining employees. This is a very real business outcome, even if execs don’t yet recognize the priority.

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