April 11, 2021

“One foot out the door” — Get ahead of pent-up attrition in 2021

After a year of extreme uncertainty, burnout, and inaction fatigue, it follows that people are seeking change. Leaders everywhere are preparing for a rising tide of employees leaving their jobs in pursuit of greener grass. According to the 2021 Achievers Engagement and Retention Report, “52% of respondents say they will job hunt in 2021, up from 35% in 2020.” When we consider the group of respondents who say they’re unsure whether or not they will search for a new job in 2021, we can see that “69% of employees have one foot out the door.”

Attrition, or the rate of employee turnover, can indicate the health of a business and is extremely costly when the percentage of employee turnover is high. Negative attrition, or the loss of an employee that an organization would like to keep, can cost as much as 50% of the annual wage at the entry level and upwards of 150% of a mid-level employee’s salary. 

For high-level or highly-specialized employees, the cost of attrition could be up to 400% of their annual salary. 

Why is mass turnover expected in 2021?

Over half of employees could potentially be ready to walk out the door. The pandemic has tilted work-life balance heavily toward work, with increased fear and anxiety that managers perceive employees to be working less. With fewer clear boundaries between work and personal life, it’s more likely for many employees to overcompensate by working longer hours and cutting breaks to prove their work ethic and maintain their responsibilities. 

71% more people report disengagement in 2021 than in 2020. Burnout is a huge factor driving this mass turnover. It’s been a year of fighting ever-changing circumstances, and we’re all exhausted from going through the same routines amidst the ebb and flow of stressful events and circumstances in the world at large. If you’ve noticed your people are disengaged, burnt out, or seem dissatisfied, they are likely a flight risk. 

Retention strategies 

How will your company improve retention after Covid-19? First, listen for feedback and then take action. Inaction fatigue — the response to an ongoing lack of movement toward integrating feedback — can affect an employee’s engagement and increase their chance of flight risk. Among Bravely users who were identified as potential flight risks in the first quarter of 2021, the top topics included: 

  • Career guidance & planning 
  • Success in current role
  • Feeling stuck
  • Stress
  • Role burnout 

Attrition is worth avoiding, and there’s still time to correct the ship. One of the biggest factors for disengagement is a lack of recognition. In the Achievers report, just 16% of employees described their manager or company as providing recognition more than once a week, and 26% said their work was recognized by their company once a month. 18% said their work is never recognized. The Achievers report suggests these five pillars of effective recognition:

1. Frequent: offer at least once a month

2. Public: share with the whole team or company

3. Timely: deliver shortly after the event

4. Specific: detail how recognition was earned

5. Values-based: tie recognition to company values

Read more: Five ways to show employee appreciation that go beyond “thank you.”

Prioritize connection and offer support 

Keep the organization connected with more designated, intentional time to come together as colleagues and connect as people. This time can take the form of Donut meetings, virtual coffee shops, or virtual walking groups! 

Encourage a culture of coaching and recognition. We recently did a series about Cultivating a Culture of Coaching, where we suggest a mindset shift from “managing” to “coaching.” The best coaches give positive affirmation and constructive feedback to improve and invest in their players. People need to know when they’re getting it right so they can repeat those actions. 

Another key strategy to bolster your people through this transitional time is to offer individualized support through one-on-one professional coaching. Bravely offers access to professional coaching to employees at every level. 

Invest in your people

Investing in your people is always a wise choice — they’re the backbone of your organization and keep it running smoothly and effectively. Attrition has an actual cost on time and resources and is a headache no one needs after the year we’ve all had. Caring for the people who have come together to adapt, evolve, dig deep, and lead with resilience and strength is imperative to the success of our organizations through this transition into a post-pandemic normal. 

The Achievers Report also offered these insightful statistics:

  • 80% say a strong recognition culture makes a company attractive to work for
  • 85% say that “when I receive recognition, it motivates me to work harder.”
  • 74% say, “I wish I received more recognition for my work.”
  • 69% say they think if their relationship with their manager improved, they would receive more recognition. 

Our workplaces, and our work relationships, matter. Actions speak louder than words, so be sure to not only tell your employees you appreciate them — but show them. 

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