It’s a massive understatement to say that COVID-19 has changed how we work. Living through a pandemic has prompted soul-searching for employees and employers alike, leading to rapid changes in work culture.
That’s why keeping your best employees — or rather, your best people — is a bigger challenge than ever.
It might surprise you to learn that 70% of employees are a flight risk — with 49% open to new opportunities and 21% actively looking. This means roughly half of employees are open to change but can still be retained, according to Ceridian's 2023 Pulse of Talent survey of more than 8,800 people.1
Fortunately, business leaders have the power to minimize churn by responding to employees’ evolving needs. To hold on to top talent — and attract more — stay on top of these five culture shifts.
Then: There’s one “right” way to work.
Now: Employees can work in whatever way is best for both them and the company
In pre-pandemic times, some offices had a culture of “be the first one in and the last one out.” Being ever-present in the office was seen as a sign of hard work and dedication, and employees who had conflicting personal responsibilities, such as picking up children from school, were sometimes penalized. COVID-19 has thrown these “rules” out the window. In fact, of those that are able to perform their jobs remotely, 8 out of 10 are either working exclusively remotely or are taking a hybrid approach (part of their week at home and part on-site).2
How to keep your best people
Embrace individual needs, goals and challenges. Encouraging employees to work when and how they see fit — within reasonable boundaries, of course — broadcasts trust, increases loyalty and makes you a more attractive employer to potential hires.
Then: Nonstop work is a virtue.
Now: Burnout is real, and it’s bad for people and business
For some people, the phrase “I haven’t taken a vacation day in two years” is a not-so-humble brag of one’s perceived importance to an operation. But consequently the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is high, and it’s only getting higher.3 A survey from the American Psychological Association found that workplace burnout may impair short-term memory, attention and other cognitive processes essential for daily work activities.4
How to keep your best people: Help employees manage workload
It’s more critical than ever to communicate with employees about how to prioritize their workload and which tasks can wait. Combating “meeting fatigue” from too many meetings that take too much time can be a good first step. You can also encourage employees to take advantage of any paid time off you offer.
Then: Keep your private life out of the workplace.
Now: Employees are human beings with families, pets and problems
If you’ve started working remotely during the pandemic, you’ve likely experienced a new side of your colleagues. You’ve seen their homes, their children and pets, and sometimes the emotional strain of trying to keep everything afloat. In the past, employees were expected to keep personal challenges, such as mental health or family issues, mostly to themselves. But with work and home melding together, that’s no longer possible — and that’s a good thing.
How to keep your best people: Prioritize emotional support
Don’t just tell employees you care, show them with policies that help them balance work and family responsibilities while supporting mental health.
Then: One-size-fits-all benefits.
Now: Personalized benefits
Traditionally, employers have offered a slate of standard benefits: major medical, dental, vision and life insurance. Today’s employees want those benefits plus expanded options, such as supplemental insurance, that they can pick and choose based on their life circumstances and concerns.
How to keep your best people: Offer robust benefits options and give employees the
opportunity to opt in or out
Personalized benefits are a great recruiting and retention tool. Offering supplemental insurance can help since half of all American workers have high anxiety about health care costs that go beyond what their health insurance covers.5
Then: Facilitate professional development.
Now: Facilitate growth in as many areas of life as possible
It’s always been important for employers to give employees opportunities to gain knowledge about how to excel at their jobs and advance in their careers. But now employees expect their leaders to help them be healthier in several realms: physically, mentally and emotionally.
How to keep your best people: Consider your employees’ whole experience, whether
you’re designing a benefits package or a new policy
When you can help employees feel happier, healthier and more fulfilled, it’s good for business — and, of course, good for people.
Companies choose to make Aflac policies available to increase benefits options without impacting their bottom line.
1 Ceridian. 2023 Pulse of Talent Survey. Published 2022. Accessed 01.04.2023.
2 Gallup. "Returning to the Office: The Current, Preferred and Future State of Remote Work." Published 8.31.2022. Accessed 01.04.2023.
3 Verywell mind. "How to Manage Stress at Work." Updated 11.30.2022. Accessed 01.04.2023.
4 4American Psychological Association. "Employers need to focus on workplace burnout: Here's why" Published 05.12.23. Accessed 01.04.24.
5 Aflac WorkForces Report. "2022-2023 Employee Financial Instability." Published November 2023. Accessed 01.04.2023.
Content within this article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or accounting advice regarding any specific situation. Aflac cannot anticipate all the facts that a particular employer will have to consider in their benefits decision-making process. For complete details, including availability and costs of Aflac supplemental insurance, please contact your local Aflac benefits advisor.
Aflac coverage is underwritten by Aflac. In New York, Aflac coverage is underwritten by Aflac New York.
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