Turning the tables on the great resignation: how SMBs can build productive, fulfilled teams who stay

19 Oct 2022

As much as we like to concentrate on strategy and planning to achieve business success, all companies rely on having great teams if they want to thrive. And this is especially true for SMBs.

You’ve probably experienced the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve created a proactive, creative team who are eager to get their teeth into important projects. It’s a great feeling.

But what happens when finding great staff becomes more challenging? When you know you’re going to struggle to build productive teams?

Many SMBs might be about to find out.

We’re in the middle of what is being called the Great Resignation, and that’s not hyperbole. 85% of UK businesses report being negatively affected by high levels of resignations.

The worst news is that we’re not out of the woods yet. 18% of workers anticipate changing jobs in the next 12 months. This is going to be a challenging time for many companies.

We’re going to look at how you can limit the impact on your business and possibly even position yourself as one of the 15% of companies that remain unaffected.

The Great Resignation: why so many employees are quitting their jobs

There’s an old adage that says that people don’t leave bad jobs — they leave bad bosses. There’s definitely some truth to that, but there may be something a little deeper as well.

People leave their jobs when they’re not getting what they want. For some, this will be financial. Often, however, employees look for something less tangible from their employers: recognition, appreciation, and belonging.

Employers typically don’t recognise what employees are looking for. Research by McKinsey found that employees prioritised feeling valued by managers and the organisation, a sense of belonging, and a flexible work schedule far more than managers expected.

In contrast, employers thought that employees would prioritise looking for a better job, compensation, and being poached by another company more than they did.

When thinking about how appreciated and connected your employees might feel, there are a few important stats to consider. Research from Microsoft has shown that:

  • 20% of workers globally don’t think their employer cares about their work-life balance
  • 54% of workers feel overworked
  • 39% of workers are exhausted

There is good news here. Companies with poor corporate culture have tended to exacerbate their problems by pursuing policies that undermine staff wellbeing. On the other hand, those with more supportive cultures demonstrate their commitment and retain great staff.

Understanding why team members are leaving gives us the chance to address those issues proactively. If we create the kind of workplace culture our staff are looking for, they won’t feel the same need to look elsewhere.

The Great Retention: how you can build productive teams who stay

With a challenging environment for recruitment, companies are increasingly embarking on the Great Retention to make the most of their precious staff.

The Great Retention is a mindset and way of operating that recognises the value of your staff and aims to create the kind of workplace that encourages them to stay.

So, what can SMBs do to increase employee retention?

Create a culture of recognition

Employees want to know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated. They need to see how much other team members also benefit from their work. This helps build team cohesion, as well as boost individual morale.

Implementing an employee recognition programme can be a great first step. This gives managers a convenient and easy-to-understand mechanism to reward great work.

This kind of programme alone is unlikely to be enough, however. Rather than seeing a recognition programme as a quick-fix solution, use it as the first step toward creating a culture of recognition.

This can be as simple as encouraging team leaders to give public thanks to employees who have worked particularly hard or achieved something special. Other measures might include adapting your annual appraisal system to focus more on appreciation and recognition.

Peer recognition can be especially valuable when you’re trying to build great SMB teams. Encouraging team members to highlight when someone else has made their life easier boosts team morale and collaboration.

Don’t ignore the little gestures, either. Huge multinationals might have the budget to poach staff, but they can’t offer the personal touch in the way an SMB can. A handwritten thank you note and a bottle of wine can often be more meaningful than an expensive gift voucher.

Work on inclusion

All members of your teams need to feel welcome, valuable, and respected. They also want to feel that they’re a part of something bigger and that you’re all working together to achieve success.

This kind of inclusion and cohesion can be more challenging to achieve in remote or hybrid workplaces, but it’s still important. Try to create opportunities for employees to get to know each other as people, not just as colleagues. 

A Friday ‘coffee and catch up’ session can work almost as well online as in person and even allows remote workers to introduce their pets to their teams.

Start the conversation

Finding an off-the-shelf solution is almost the opposite of the Great Retention. The best way to keep your staff is to listen to your staff.

Open a conversation with your teams about what they need from you. Ask about the things they like and those they dislike. Listen openly, and avoid getting defensive about the things you can’t change.

Ask your staff for suggestions to improve wellbeing, job satisfaction, and enthusiasm. You might be surprised at the recommendations you receive.

Make work meaningful

One common theme in employee retention is that employees want to feel that they’re making a difference to their teams, their companies, and (sometimes) to society as a whole.

Boost your employee satisfaction and retention by automating tasks that feel repetitive and where staff can’t see how they’re adding value. This frees up time for them to work on more important tasks, including professional development and team-building.

Workhorse helps our clients easily automate these tasks. Aford Awards, for example, have freed up two admin days per person per month simply by moving to our software. That’s a lot of time that employees can spend on more meaningful projects.

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you automate your processes, and keep reading our blog for more insights about building productive and valued teams.

Ready to transform your inventory management?

Ditch the spreadsheets and provide your team with the tools they need to make better inventory decisions.