How to Retain Your Best Employees During the ‘Great Resignation’

By Stacy Pursell, CPC/CERS
The VET Recruiter®

By all accounts, the past several months have represented the biggest quitting spree by American workers in the history of this country. This, of course, is why this trend has been dubbed “The Great Resignation” by members of the media. There are more people resigning from their jobs in search of better employment opportunities than ever.

This phenomenon has emerged in tandem with another, related one. The job market for talent is as tight as it’s ever been. Just as the “Great Resignation” is unprecedented, so perhaps is the current state of the employment marketplace. Identifying, attracting, and hiring qualified candidates is as tough as ever. And hiring the top candidates in the marketplace, the top 5% to 10% of talent? I can safely say that is as difficult as it’s ever been in my 23 years as an executive recruiter.

This obviously presents a problem for employers, including Animal Health companies and Veterinary organizations. In fact, the situation is even more extreme for employers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. That’s because qualified candidates are scarce, and that is especially the case for top candidates.

So in the face of all this, what can organizations do to retain their best employees while the “Great Resignation” continues to rage on?

What costs money . . . and what doesn’t

While you might feel as though you’re helpless during this time, it’s not the case. There is a lot that you can do as organization to keep your top employees engaged and reduce the risk that they’re going to look elsewhere for professional growth and satisfaction. These retention strategies are broken down into two categories—those that directly involve more money and those that do not.

While it’s a good idea to use all of these strategies to some extent, some of them are dependent upon the circumstances surrounding a specific situation. These circumstances include the caliber of the employee and how convinced they are that they need to leave your organization for another employment opportunity.

#1—Salary increases

If you’re only giving out raises at set times during the year, then you should revisit that policy. Look over your roster. Who are your top employees? When was the last time they received a raise? What was the amount of that raise? Was it only a 3% cost-of-living raise? If so, then these employees are already at risk for leaving. The best way to keep employees is to do so proactively, and giving out appropriate raises is a proactive way to show your appreciation.

#2—Retention bonuses

This are less common than salary increases, but could prove to be more valuable, especially with your top employees. They’re not impressed by a 3% cost-of-living salary increase, but you would get their attention with a hefty retention bonus for staying with the organization during the greatest period of mass resignation in the country’s history.

#3—Longer resignation bonuses

This really isn’t a retention strategy, per se, because the employee is ultimately going to leave, anyway. However, depending upon the caliber of the employee and the position that they’re leaving, you may want to reward them for a longer resignation period. If you can convince them to stay four weeks instead of the standard two, that could give you enough time to prepare for their departure and get a head-start on finding their replacement, regardless of whether that person will come from within the organization or from without.

These are big moves that you can make to retain top employees, but what about smaller, more subtle action steps that don’t necessarily cost money? These exist, as well, and they represent things that your organization should be doing on a consistent basis because they represent an ongoing commitment to your employees and the value that they provide.

#1—Keep the lines of communication open.

Even if an employee is only casually looking at other employment opportunities, you’re not likely to know that they’re doing so. This is why you must have a grasp of where they are in terms of their employment with the organization and their career. Are they engaged? Are they satisfied? How do they want to grow professionally? This is information that is vital to helping you retain your employees. If you don’t have it, then you must get it.

#2—Discuss employees’ career growth and path within the organization.

Sometimes, people don’t see the opportunities for growth at their employer because they can’t see them. They haven’t been communicated in a way that will resonate with them and compel them to stay with the organization. This is where a personal, one-on-one discussion could be an investment of time and energy that pays big dividends down the road. That’s because an employee who can see the opportunities at their employer are more likely to stay and take advantage of them.

#3—Offer more flexibility and other perks.

One of the most sought-after perks in the marketplace these days is working from home or remote work. However, not all employers in the Veterinary profession can offer that perk. That means you’ll have to be more creative, instead offering other forms of schedule flexibility to your top employees. You could also provide them with additional PTO (paid time off) days in lieu of remote work other schedule flexibility.

Remember, these strategies are not to be used in place of one another. Your organization should be utilizing all of them to a certain degree.

How an Animal Health or Veterinary recruiter can help

You might be asking how a recruiter can aid in retention. I can help my clients in this area because not only am I a Certified Personnel Consultant or CPC, but I am also an Employee Retention Specialist or CERS. As a result, I’m uniquely qualified to provide expertise in the area of employee retention and that’s why I feel so strongly about how important it is for employers.

In fact, employee retention is as important now as it has ever been, for all of the reasons outlined above. Animal Health companies and Veterinary organizations should be doing everything within their power to retain the services of their best employees so they can keep benefitting from the tremendous value that they provide.

In this day and age, it’s not enough to continually hire the best. You have to keep the best, too.

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We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.