Key Strategies to Keep Your Top Talent in Post-Pandemic Times

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Lisa Ryan, who recently presented at the general session at the Marketing & Distribution Convention, offers strategies on how to enhance your employees connection and commitment to your organization.

For the last several years, we’ve heard that 87% of employees are open to exploring new job opportunities. These days, the conversations center around “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing.” What’s the difference?

Quiet quitting is an informal term for minimizing the work an employee commits to a job, such as by stopping completing any tasks not specifically listed in the job description. They stop going above and beyond and only do the work they are being paid to do. Employees don’t share this information, so it’s up to the manager to detect changes and see what they can do to rectify the situation.

Simply put, employees are burned out. The pandemic caused a lot of business disruption, leading to staff cutbacks so the business could survive financially. Staff members who were left to pick up the slack were willing because they believed it would be a temporary situation. However, as business leaders saw that they could get by with fewer employees, they’ve been slow to bring people back.

On the other hand, quiet firing is when managers avoid firing employees outright. Instead, they use a variety of passive-aggressive tactics that have the same result as the firing they desire. Examples include: routinely giving employees their least favorite duties, not including them in certain email threads, and excluding them from specific gatherings. It can also be due to overburdening someone with tasks that cause burnout.

Both of these concepts wreak havoc on employee culture. Employees leave their company when they don’t feel connected to their job and the people they work with. In many cases, employees aren’t quitting their job; they’re quitting the culture. Get the culture right, and you can turn things around.

Because people are the number one resource for every organization, engaging with them personally is critical. When company leaders pay attention to the “little things,” they maintain a higher retention rate, improved productivity, and increased engagement that organizations that ignore niceties that create a good culture.

Yes, creating an engaged culture at your workplace is essential, but how do you do it? Here are three ways to create a connected culture and keep your top talent from becoming someone else’s.

An Attitude of Accessibility. Trust is the foundation on which you build your culture. If there is no trust between leadership and employees, nothing else matters. However, by committing to your culture – and sticking with it, you can turn things around.

When leaders get to know their team members individually, show empathy for their challenges, share information openly and honestly, and let their employees get to know them, the employees are more likely to feel connected to the organization.

Another great strategy to improve accessibility is the “stay interview.” Set up times to meet with your people one-on-one. Ask them what they like about their job, what would cause them to leave and what resources they need. Go into these conversations with a “thank you for sharing” attitude, act on the suggestions made, and give credit where credit is due.

Level Up the Learning. Help your team become better tomorrow than they are today. This means providing continuing education and professional development opportunities to help them grow themselves. Be creative in your programming and get member feedback on what THEY would find most beneficial.

You’ll find that when you invest in your employees, you’ll see many benefits. Your people will not only work harder for you, but they will also feel that you value them and their contributions.

Rock Your Recognition. Catch your team in the act of doing things well. In other words, find ways to acknowledge, appreciate, and applaud the efforts of your team members.

Mother Teresa once said, “We are more starved for appreciation than bread.”

When you give positive feedback, don’t just say, “Great job!” Be specific. Look for ways to recognize your employees in the way that they like to be acknowledged. Written notes are a terrific way to connect. When you tell someone you appreciate them, you create a wonderful memory.

To get started, sit down with your leadership team and determine the type of culture you want to create. When you have your plan, choose one or two of the top long-term ideas. Then do it.

Lisa Ryan, CSP, is the Founder of Grategy and is an award-winning speaker and best-selling author of eleven books, including “Manufacturing Engagement: 98 Proven Strategies to Attract and Retain Your Industry’s Top Talent.” Learn more at