The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are far-reaching, from how we communicate with friends and family to how and where we work. In 2020, when employees were struggling to maintain job security, no one would have imagined that a year later it would be a job seeker’s market and employees would be leaving their current positions in droves.

According to the Labor Department, the share of United States workers who left their jobs in April was 2.7%, the highest level since at least 2000. And if they haven’t left their jobs yet, they’re planning to, according to a recent study by Prudential Financial, which found that one-quarter of workers say they plan to look for a role with a different employer soon.

Turnover isn’t cheap, either. Estimates vary, but conservatively, replacing an employee can cost a business one-half to two times their annual salary. The smart play for businesses is to invest in both current and prospective employees in order to ensure retention and stand out amongst competitors.

PREMIUM CONTENT: July 2021 US Jobs Report

Successful Organizations Focus on What Employees Need 

Investment is about more than just money. While salary requirements will usually drive contract negotiations, the perks and benefits are turning out to be just as important for the diverse workforce of today. Benefits packages now go beyond the staples of health insurance and 401k plans to include investments in employees’ short- and long-term futures.

Here are a few ways that successful companies are utilizing benefits to invest in their most valuable assets their human capital:

  1. Job up-skilling and soft skill development. The workforce is largely made up of millennials, and 87% of them say that career growth and professional development are important factors in their job decisions. Whether a position is changing because of technological advances or analytics requirements, offering employees the opportunity to grow with their position is vital. Not only are new skills a welcome development for employees, but soft skills development like leadership, management and communication are drivers for successful retention. Employers can provide fully-remote training through learning libraries for soft skills as well as industry-specific courses, and artificial intelligence and virtual reality are making training an immersive, interactive experience.
  1. Mentoring and feedback. To grow in their fields and reach their true potentials, employees need feedback and coaching. Whether through regular feedback, annual performance reviews or mentoring opportunities, employees are demanding that those in leadership positions invest more time in providing career guidance. Mentoring relationships benefit both employees and businesses by developing strong employee loyalty and ultimately increasing worker retention.
  1. Fully remote and hybrid work models. The pandemic forced employers to adjust their work requirements, and many employees are now demanding some of these changes stick around. A flexible work environment is no longer just a perk, but a necessary investment for employers. Research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that 52% of employees forced to work remotely due to the pandemic want to continue to work from home permanently on a full-time basis.

More than two-thirds of small businesses reported they are currently having a hard time finding qualified workers. Raises and promotions help retain talent, but they aren’t the only way to think long-term. In a job seeker’s market, finding ways to attract new talent is the only way to keep an innovative, talented team. The ways that businesses show up for their employees will continue to change as cultural priorities shift, but the philosophy that will stick around is one that involves investing in people.

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