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Employee Retention in the Great Resignation

Root Coworking member and Founder of Rogue Recruitment, Robin Walters, shares her insights on how to best retain employees in a worker's market.

For the most part, employees want to stay engaged long-term. Companies want to have happy employees actively contributing to the team. This is a partnership that both sides want to make successful. And yet, there’s often an incredible disconnect. 

Where does this “Great Resignation” come from when the ideal situation is for people to stay in their current jobs? Why are people leaving when their preference is often to stay?

First off, let’s get the who am I and why should you listen to me? out of the way.

My name is Robin Walters and I founded my company, Rogue Recruitment, over five years ago. I’ve been in recruitment since 2014 and in the Tulsa market specifically since 2015. We partner mainly with small companies on filling tech roles.  

  • 64% of our placements are companies under 50 employees, 40% of them under 20. 
  • 74% of our placements have been in tech roles. 
  • Our average tenure for software engineers placed June 2018 through 2020 is over 30 months (with an end date of 9/1/23 for those in the same position).
  • Over 30% of those placements are still at the same job.

 

You see, I have a lot of insight in hiring and the companies that I recruit FOR…and those I recruit OUT of. AND our placements tend to stick around, which demonstrates we know which companies will take care of their people; we choose to work with them!

Changing jobs is an incredibly stressful and highly emotional experience that most people would prefer to avoid. It’s often quite uncomfortable and a period of increased anxiety. If you’ve made the decision to look for a new job it’s because, at the core, you’re not getting something that you need in your current role. You’ve tried to make it work, but there is some problem (or problems) that you feel are unsolvable. As a company, hiring for your team is ALSO stressful! Whether it’s a backfill or open due to growth, the difference between the right hire and the wrong one can be detrimental toward a company’s success, especially when the team is small. 

SO, how do you reduce the risk of this partnership failing?

Let’s start off with the most ridiculously obvious statement on how to retain your team.

Make your company a good place to work. 

DUH. Obvious, right? Except…a lot of places are actually quite terrible at this.

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: if you are wondering what your employees would like to stay engaged and happy, then ASK them. What is most important for one employee might not even be a consideration for someone else. This isn’t an area to assume – ASK! And keep asking. Priorities and life circumstances change. What was important to me when I started Rogue (26 and single) is a lot different than today (31, married, 2 babies).

ASK, ASK, ASK!

Now, on to some of the most common reasons I hear:

  • Compensation. The market is changing RAPIDLY and the easiest and quickest way to get a raise is by changing jobs. Too many companies are shortsighted and not adjusting their employees’ salaries preemptively. If someone on your team leaves, and hiring their backfill would cost you 20% more in salary, go ahead and increase the compensation of your team. Because if they’re not getting it from you, they’re coming to talk to me. And I get paid a % of their salary, so you know I’m advocating like hell for them. 
 
  • Managers who don’t “get it.” I see this A LOT with software engineers who report up to the CFO. Reporting to someone who understands the unique challenges of your role leads to the right kind of support needed to be successful. It’s not fun to feel like you’re constantly banging your head against a wall trying to be heard. 
 
  • Actual Upward Mobility. The top producers often have a “what’s next” mindset. A clear path toward that next level in their career keeps the employees who are deeply engaged and want to commit to the company. If the answer for when they’ll be promoted is, “someone needs to retire,” go ahead and update a job description for their role.  
 
  • Overwhelming work load. Quick way to assess if this might be your team? Look at how many open roles you have right now. Who is covering that work while those roles remain open? If your current team is expected to be working more than their own job responsibilities, they’re at high risk for burning out and disengaging. 
 
  • “Nice Guy Syndrome.” This is when you have a hire who IS SO NICE and everyone LOVES…except they are wildly incompetent. You keep them around because you like them and don’t want to hurt their feelings by firing them. This lowers the bar for the entire team. The “A” players will get frustrated, stop producing as much, and then go work for your competitors. Keeping the underperformer erodes an incredible amount of trust with the team.
 

The good news is with proper communication and good intentions, a lot of the disconnect between companies and employees is repairable…but the right conversations need to happen.

Along with the typical contingency and retained model of recruitment, we also offer consulting on overall talent strategy. If you mention this blog post, I’ll offer a free consultation to discuss the problems you know you have, uncover problems you didn’t even know about, and see if we might be a good mesh to actually solve them together.

About the Author

Robin Walters

Founder, Rogue Recruitment

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