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Want to hold on to your best people? Keep up with these 5 culture shifts

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.

Nearly 7 in 10 people are either looking for a new job or would consider one if approached, according to Ceridian’s 2021 Pulse of Talent survey of more than 5,000 people.1 One CEO of an executive search firm predicted as much as a 20% change in the workforce at the executive level: He called it “the Great Covid Job Churn.”2

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 — as some employees work remotely,3 employers are seeing that productivity doesn’t suffer.4

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 the business community and even medical experts are becoming increasingly aware of the many perils of burnout.5 A survey from the fall of 2020 found that a whopping 89% of employees said that their work life was getting worse. Several months into the pandemic, 85% said their well-being had declined, while 55% said they hadn’t been able to balance their home and work lives.6

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.
Large companies that managed to improve their culture during the pandemic paid purposeful attention to employee welfare, according to an analysis of Glassdoor reviews published in MIT Sloan Management Review.7 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. Interestingly, supplemental insurance to help protect financial health is especially popular among employees under age 40, according to the 2020–2021 Aflac Workplace Benefit Trends report.8

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.