Each month, Mercer brings together in-house experts, employee advocates and external thought leaders for an online discussion of the most pressing issues. The program is called #MercerChats and takes place entirely on Twitter, where individuals around the world engage with Mercer’s intellectual capital and other leading thought leadership to share insights and discuss the best solutions to help organizations thrive. Below is a summary of our October 2021 tweet chat, highlighting some of the key themes discussed and insights shared.

People may have always been an employer’s most valuable asset, but these days they’re becoming the most sought after as well. Whether you’re calling it the “Great Resignation,” the “Great Reset,” or the “Great Reshuffle,” it’s clear that talent is on the move, and employers are doing everything they can to keep up.

 

This challenge – building and maintaining a resilient, loyal workforce – is a core responsibility for HR, but it’s become increasingly top of mind as the pandemic and subsequent economic disruption change the way we work. Whereas employers may have once put the majority of their focus into new grad recruitment and internal talent development, more and more are looking to nontraditional employment models (think Gig) to bring in top talent and fill holes in their organization.

 

But that doesn’t mean that companies are turning their backs on their workforce. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, with more employers pouring additional resources into their people and culture as a means of hanging onto their hard won and precious talent. With this scramble to get ahead of talent developing so quickly, we wanted to see what’s really contributing to workforce attrition and what employers can do to stem their losses. We asked some of the world’s leading voices on workforce management and benefits strategy to share insights on this growing phenomenon, and below are some of the highlights from our conversation.

 

Leaders, we have a problem

The first step in getting ahead of the volatile talent market is a quick self-assessment. Where are you losing talent, where are they going, and why are they leaving? While the initial results may be alarming (“We’re losing how many people?!”), it’s important to keep everything in context. As Brian Kropp shared during our chat, many employers are experiencing a turnover rate of over 30% this year, and the best way to reverse this trend is to better understand it.

 

In many cases, employers will likely find that they need to catch up with the times. The widespread transition to remote work has had real impact on how colleagues interact and engage with company culture, and as these seemingly-simple aspects of the employee experience breakdown, so do the social bonds that keep employees content with their teams and employers. Overcoming this requires leaders to listen to their workforce to identify and understand their unmet needs, Marcia F Robinson noted, and in many cases they may find that people are looking for more than money. Increasingly, employees are looking for the relationships that they miss from a pre-pandemic era, as suggested by Alvin Foo, and its incumbent on employer to fill these gaps in order to keep their people’s eyes from wandering elsewhere.

At current course and speed some companies will see turnover of 30+% this year. As we move into our hybrid future, we have to build better social connections with our employees to keep them from quitting. Having a friend at work has never been more important.

Brian Kropp

 

Leadership cannot tune out or checkout. I’ve seen the proverbial “hands thrown up in the air” which adds stress for everyone else.

Leaders must practice their own self care to show up daily.

It’s part of leadership resilience for the future of work.

Marcia F Robinson

 

Listen, learn, and make the changes employees want, starting with a focus on the relational aspects of work that people have missed the most. By understanding why they are leaving and by acting thoughtfully, you may be able to improve the attrition rate.

Alvin Foo

Build for your future

If workers are looking for more from their employers, it’s up to HR to give it to them. That starts with taking a true interest in their wellbeing, as Kathleen Kruse shared, and making an active commitment to a people-first culture. With this, it’s absolutely vital that leaders make their commitment genuine, because nothing can undercut your efforts more than unrealized promises. When it comes to the people inside your organization, there’s really no shortcut to caring.

 

So what does taking action look like? Our chat participants had no shortage of recommendations. Soumyasanto Sen advised that HR and business managers take this as an opportunity to review all aspects of the employee experience, investing in digital benefits, partnering with outside vendors to bring in best-in-class solutions, and building a bedrock of support through stronger social connections within the workforce. Cecilia Giordano also recommended investing in employee wellbeing programs like digital healthcare, while Tamara McCleary suggested that broader support for employee mental health and work-life balance is essential to maintaining a happy workforce.

 

In the end, there likely is no one-size-fits-all strategy for building a future-ready, loyal workforce. Just as every organization’s talent needs are different, so are the needs of that talent. However, it is clear that those employers who invest in their people (often by investing in themselves) have clear advantage in today’s volatile talent marketplace, and those who don’t will only continue to fall behind in the race for the future.

Workforce resilience starts with true interest in individual wellbeing + active commitment to a people-first culture. Don’t jump into "fix it" programs. Instead, ask leaders to pay attention + engage often at a personal level, especially if teams work remotely.

Kathleen Kruse

 

Employers must: Create a culture of cooperation and empathy
Leverage the power of digital
Partners with outside coaches and experts
Offer more related learning
Embed support of colleagues and friends

Soumyasanto Sen

 

Employees in well-being means being aligned and in a state of good to achieve. Digital healthcare has a positive influencing both way employee and employers impacting in better results.

Cecilia Giordano

 

We can support mental health and wellbeing by first recognizing it as something we need to be aware of and support. It is a genuine issue for many and should be treated like a physical illness. Encouraging mental health days and much more is critical.

Tamara McCleary

Danielle Guzman
Danielle Guzman

Global Head of Social Media