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5 ways leaders can better retain staff post-pandemic

By Michelle Gibbings | |6 minute read

There’s never a good time to lose an effective team member, and the downsides increase in a tight employment market. Knowledge walks out the door. Costs and time are involved in recruiting and training the new team member. The team’s dynamics can change. As the world shifts into a different gear post-pandemic, developing and retaining an engaged and talented workforce is essential, which requires awareness of your employee’s shifting priorities and expectations.

1. New habits formed

Humans are habitual creatures, with research suggesting that over 40 per cent of what we do every day is a habit. New workplace habits have formed, and many employees are comfortable working from home and no longer see workplace flexibility as a privilege but a right. If you want to shift that dynamic, as some organisations are doing, be conscious of the impact because some employees will quit rather than return to the office full-time. Issuing a top-down edict is not an effective strategy. Instead, talk to your team about options that meet your and their needs.


2. Reassessed working relationships

Many employees assessed the role their job plays in their lives and are seeking more balance and a workplace where mental health and issues like burnout are taken seriously. Addressing this could mean offering access to mental health resources, such as counselling or therapy sessions, or encouraging employees to take breaks and prioritise their mental wellbeing.

While the cost-of-living pressures are playing out, there are also the lingering effects of the pandemic on people’s mental health. Consequently, the need to support and promote a healthy workplace won’t diminish. A core part of this is establishing an environment where people feel not just physically safe but psychologically safe, a term coined by Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson. In such an environment, team members trust and respect each other and feel comfortable being themselves.

3. Competitive compensation

In general, wages have not kept pace, and while there are pockets of growth, many employees have suffered a decline in real wages over the last decade or more. At a time when the job market has tilted in some employees’ favour, they are using this opportunity to seek more lucrative compensation packages. For leaders, take the time to understand how competitive your compensation package is and additional incentives that can attract and retain talent.

4. Clear career pathways

In a competitive job market, talented employees know they have options, and while salary is important, so too are development opportunities and clear pathways for promotion. Employees looking to grow and advance in their careers will seek opportunities elsewhere if they feel their growth and career are hampered and could advance elsewhere.

Leaders should have meaningful career conversations with their team members. Examine and offer suitable training and development programs and provide regular feedback and recognition. Employees want to feel like they have a future at their organisation and that their hard work leads somewhere.

5. Healthy organisational culture

Georgetown University’s Associate Professor of Management, Christine Porath, found that respect tops the charts for employees. Her survey of 20,000 employees worldwide, conducted in conjunction with Harvard Business Review and Tony Schwarz, concluded that being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, having an inspiring vision, receiving feedback, and opportunities for learning and development. You want to create an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and connected to their colleagues. Creating such an environment can involve hosting team-building events, encouraging open communication and collaboration, and putting the systems and processes in place to establish a welcoming and inclusive workplace.

Central to all of that is your leadership. Research shows that people leave organisations when they have a bad boss. So, if you want your team members to stay, focus on your leadership first and foremost. With all this, remember it’s not one size fits all. People thrive under different styles of leadership and need different things. If you want to retain your team, take the time to know what they want, how to bring out their best and demonstrate you value their contribution.

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and author.



The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Team building

The goal of team building is to instil a culture of interdependence and trust among employees so that they feel appreciated for the work they do and appreciate what others bring to the table. Although this may be implemented as a training programme, it mainly depends on morale and company culture to develop a long-lasting, maintained feeling of team.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.