Focus on keeping workers who stay happy and productive.


Amid the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are reevaluating their life trajectories, making big decisions as they consider what matters most to them — and that includes quitting their jobs.

Employees are leaving at historic rates — in April 2021, 4 million employees quit their jobs1. Just one year later, 4.4 million employees quit in the same month2. 48 million people quit in 2021, an annual record.3

As workers leave, business owners are left to grapple with a labor shortage that’s making it harder than ever to fill job openings.

For good reason, employers may be focused on hiring. But as they hunt for job candidates, they also need to keep their sights set on another group: the workers who choose to stay. After months of watching their colleagues make their exits, some might wonder if it’s time for their own.4

During this so-called Great Resignation, business solutions aimed at employee retention can help to stem the tide. Here are three ways to keep your remaining employees on the job:

1.    Start with benefits: Are yours keeping up?

Your benefits package was likely created before the pandemic and might not meet the needs of today’s workers. The global health crisis is triggering a shift in the benefits that companies offer, according to a recent survey.5

Employers are placing more emphasis on giving workers flexibility in how they work and care for their loved ones. 98% of leaders planned to expand or introduce perks such as child and senior care benefits, choices in when work gets done, and more mental health support.

For even the smallest businesses without resources to extend paid benefits, that could mean letting employees continue to work from home or make their own schedules, so they can care for children or aging family members or work on their mental health as needed.

2.       Find out why they’re leaving.

During exit interviews, employers can uncover an individual’s motivations for leaving. With the information, they try to resolve any issues to ensure others remain.

Stay interviews are often overlooked, but they can be just as important. During stay interviews, employers ask existing workers what motivates them to stick it out and how they can improve their on-the-job experiences.

The Society for Human Resource Management recommends that stay interviews remain casual, conversational, and short. Questions can probe what makes the job most satisfying for an employee, how the employer can most benefit from their talents, and what might prompt them to leave.6

3.    Have you praised your workers today?

Great benefits, perks, and paychecks certainly help with employee retention, but they aren’t the only factors that keep workers on board.

What many employees also want is a culture where they feel heard and appreciated. A LinkedIn survey found that workers would rather be paid less or give up a loftier title than suffer through a bad workplace environment.7

Happy workers don’t just stay on the job, they also are more productive. Nearly all workers who feel valued are more motivated to do their best work, according to a survey from the American Psychological Association.8

Small businesses might not have the resources to roll out elaborate culture-building campaigns like their much bigger competitors. But they still can cultivate workplaces where people feel valued.

Open communication channels where workers are encouraged to share their perspectives and regular positive messages from supervisors and managers about jobs well done can go a long way, according to the Council of Smaller Enterprises.9

The cost of losing good employees.

It’s costly to replace workers. Research shows companies spend between one-half to two times an employee’s annual salary to replace them. You can’t keep every worker from quitting, but the right strategies can help to slow the exodus and ensure that the workers who remain are productive — and motivated to stay. 10

Just as you overcame the challenge of remote work with virtual meeting and team building strategies, so too will you meet The Great Resignation with inventive retention efforts, a fresh look at benefits, and an effective virtual recruiting process. By focusing on current talent and preparing to recruit new faces for your team, business owners can make the most of this moment — and convert loss into opportunity.

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1 “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey News Release,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 8, 2021,

2  “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey News Release,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 1, 2022,

3 Iacurci, Greg, “The Great Resignation continues, as 44% of workers look for a new job”, March 22, 2022,

4 James Freeman, “Where Are the Workers?,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 5, 2021,

5 Tim Allen, “The Pandemic Is Changing Employee Benefits,” Harvard Business Review, April 7, 2021,

6 “Stay Interview Questions,” Society of Human Resource Management, (n.d.),

7 Nina McQueen, “Workplace Culture Trends: The Key to Hiring (and Keeping) Top Talent in 2018, LinkedIn, June 26, 2018, (n.d.),

8 “APA Survey Finds Feeling Valued at Work Linked to Well-Being and Performance,” American Psychological Association, (n.d.),

9 Tim Dimoff, “Why Employee Motivation Matters More in a Small Business,” Council of Smaller Enterprises, Sept. 9, 2019

10 Shane McFeely and Ben Wigert, “This Fixable Problem Costs U.S. Businesses $1 Trillion,” Gallup, March 13, 2019, businessestrillion.aspx