Editor’s note: Kate Tornone is HR Dive’s lead editor. Our Talent Textbook column explores the fundamentals of talent management and acquisition. Kate can be reached at [email protected].
Employees have reported high levels of burnout since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and research shows that today’s tight labor market may be exacerbating the problem.
But with some economists predicting a recession — and hiring freezes and layoff rumors making headlines — hiring more talent to ease workloads may not be an option for some. So when that fix isn’t on the table, what’s HR to do?
Ensure workers feel heard
HR pros may be well-aware of the broad challenges that staffing shortages create at work, but employees say companies are missing some of the impacts such shortages have on them as individuals, according to a poll conducted by job site Monster in late May.
Nearly three quarters of poll respondents said their companies don’t understand their frustrations when it comes to the talent shortage, according to the results shared with HR Dive. More than half said they’re spread too thin at work. Some said they struggle to maintain focus. And others said they work extra hours without appropriate compensation. The stress extends beyond the workplace, too; two-thirds of respondents said they’re generally burned out.
Addressing this problem and ensuring employees feel heard means not only soliciting feedback but also acting on it. A Perceptyx report from April revealed that employers that regularly accept and act on employee feedback are 11 times more likely to have high retention compared to employers that do not.
Acknowledge challenges transparently
As employers respond to and act on employee feedback, it’s crucial to do so transparently. Acknowledging labor and economic market conditions, explaining an employer’s decisions and answering questions can go a long way.
Discussing both pay and cultural transparency with HR Dive last month, a Salary.com executive encouraged HR pros to err on the side of openness.
“The more you try and hold back from employees, the more they don’t understand when you make strange policy decisions,” David Turetsky, VP of consulting, said. “You have to tell people why you’re doing the things you do so it makes sense to them, so they believe in your mission and so they’ll stay.”
While employers may not be able to fulfill all employee requests — especially those with hefty price tags — HR can work to prioritize solutions that balance workers’ needs with those of the company.
PwC, for example, recently announced new benefits aimed at meeting employees’ needs. Among other things, the company said it will shut down two times per year, ensure workers use all vacation time available and provide 12 free annual visits with a mental health professional.
Personalization is critical in implementing benefits and initiatives such as those. A culture that ensures workers take time off can help employees who feel that they must be “always on.” Low- or no-cost mental health benefits can aid those who say finances pose a barrier to care. Adopting a four-day workweek or hybrid work options may be preferable to those with caregiving duties.
If HR pros can pinpoint problems, address them transparently and provide personalized solutions, employers may find themselves able to weather whatever economic forces are on the horizon.