While the current labor market may be challenging for your small business, there are strategies you can use to keep your best employees around. Discover how you can retain the top talent and position your business for success in 2023 and beyond.

The great resignation is still in full swing—employees have never had so much leverage when it comes to making a career move, and top talent can pretty much go anywhere. And many have—but organizations who have benefitted from winning over top talent that leaned into the great resignation as the right time to evolve their careers now face a new challenge. They need to retain and integrate the new talent into their organization if they are going to benefit from this talent infusion in the long run.

Today you’re not just competing with other employers and benefits packages. You’re competing with side hustles that can turn into full entrepreneurship. Boise-based Success Financial Team says they have seen record growth in people seeking advice in LLC formation, securing an EIN number. There is now a whole growing industry of quickly and easily allowing people to jump into side hustles.

There are also hybrid work situations offered—the ability to have more balance at home and a better quality of life. No matter the expertise or organizational level, there is an equal or more attractive option available. At its core, that’s why the great resignation is occurring. It’s a collective realization that better things may exist or at least they exist temporarily. It may as well be called the great reevaluation with employees prioritizing more flexibility, more control, and more influence over their career trajectories as we enter the brave new world of work in a post-pandemic society.

Is The Flexible Workplace Enough?

New hires are coming into new opportunities having reevaluated what they want their careers to look like and many now prioritize work flexibility that fits their lifestyles whether that be when they work, or where they work from when they work. Employers are also taking this feedback and prioritizing locations that allow for more work-life balance. This month, Sacramento was able to attract specialty tool maker, Ceratizit, to move from Los Angeles and create a $10 million expansion. Many employers have gotten the memo and are reinventing what the post-pandemic work environment will look like.

Hot-desking, the latest innovation in office efficiency, for example, offers the potential to help employers offer more workplace flexibility while simultaneously creating savings and efficiencies. To some, this sounds wonderful. Plenty of people like flexibility. To other personality styles, this is way too much flexibility because it removes the calm and stability of having a space to make their own while at work. It becomes never-ending chaos for them.

Revenue.io has a study on the five reasons remote sales teams succeed and how to maximize remote work, which for many companies may become their permanent culture because of cost and efficiency. So as new talent is onboarded, the level of workplace flexibility may need to be evaluated at the individual level in order to be a successful retention tool. This personalized approach, however, may be difficult to scale, repeat, or sustain throughout the enterprise model, which thrives on policy and procedure.

Talent Diversity as a Multi-Dimensional Dynamic

How we work is just part of the dynamic. How talent can grow in your organization is probably the most important factor. No one wants to feel like they are spinning on a wheel or can’t see a path for future success. Dr. Raquel Martin, in an increasingly shared TikTok, detailed something she calls “selection stress”—the tremendous weight that black and minority coworkers feel to succeed in a position and say/do the right thing at all times—because if they don’t they might be closing a door for themselves and/or others that look like them in the future.

This can’t be overlooked. It’s very easy to show, on a surface level—an inclusive work environment. But if your employees don’t feel free and open to share ideas, or are comfortable in their growth trajectory, then most of their time is going to be spent second-guessing their decisions and ultimately looking for somewhere that feels more comfortable. Just like with workspaces, there isn’t a catch-all solution for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The most important thing you can do, as an employer, is be open to understanding what motivates and demotivates your employees rather than pushing one collective solution for all.

Talent diversity is not just limited to race, ethnicity, or gender identity—a diverse workforce is increasingly being represented not only by “FTEs” (full-time employees), but also contractors and freelancers who represent what’s commonly known as the “contingent workforce.” Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of PRO Unlimited, a company that provides technology and services for the contingent workforce management space, urges organizations to take a holistic, “total talent” view of their workforce. “The white-collar contingent workforce is growing exponentially” Kevin asserts, “it’s not enough to view highly qualified talent in silos anymore—the modern workforce has diversified beyond the traditional FTE.” Akeroyd links this talent integration to better workplace results—essentially getting more from today’s diverse talent by engaging the total workforce, not just full-time employees exclusively—“The integrated workforce is today’s business imperative for organizations who want to maximize the performance of their workforce, while building more mutually beneficial relationships between all of an organization’s top talent and the employer brand.”

Retention as the New Recruiting: Chief Retention Officer Wanted?

Recruiters have had their pick of prime talent as employees leveraged high demand for talent to make a career move, but now as the game shifts to retention—organizations will have to prioritize ensuring that HR, leadership, management, and above all, corporate culture is well-positioned to make retention the number one goal. Mentorship is one way at increasing retention—according to a study by the Association for Talent Development, companies with formal mentorship programs increased intra-organizational relationships and collaboration by 37%, and when companies offer mentorship programs, employee engagement and retention increase by 50%.

So do companies now need a Chief Retention Officer to ensure all that new talent stays with the organization long enough to provide tangible value? Management consulting firm Rainmaker Thinking makes the case that retention is every manager’s job, citing high levels of engagement, establishing a rapport with employees, and initiating a regular ongoing dialogue with teams. If retention is the new recruiting, look to your team leads, managers, and leadership to lead the charge to retain both existing and new talent that integrates into the organization.

This article was written by David Armano from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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