The past few years have brought unparalleled upheaval across the global workforce. With the economy rebounding from the pandemic only to be met with new challenges like runaway inflation, fears of recession and global instability, the balance of power between employers and employees has seesawed dramatically.
After the Great Resignation of 2021 put talent squarely in the driver's seat, a cooling job market in 2023 has shifted control back toward employers. But workers today are not as complacent as they once were. Despite hiring freezes and layoffs, almost half of employees still plan to switch jobs this year as a recent Gallup report uncovered only 33% of employees are engaged at work. This lack of engagement comes at a significant cost to the economy, estimated at a staggering $1.9 trillion.
To engage and retain top talent in 2024, savvy employers should focus on these three areas:
Prioritize Upskilling and Reskilling
Our most recent Graduate Employability Report found that more than half of employers (57%) believe that certain entry-level jobs could be replaced by AI, with more than two-thirds (68%) saying their employees will need to upskill or reskill in the next five years.
With rapid technological advances brought on by generative AI and other emerging solutions, the skills required of today's workforce are in constant flux. Workers must embrace lifelong learning to stay relevant. According to our report, most (65%) recent graduates surveyed recognized the need for a learning approach to their career to stay relevant in the workforce in the wake of emerging technology.
Forward-thinking employers should not only empower talent to gain new competencies, especially in emerging areas like AI and data analytics, but also continue improving soft skills, like communication, empathy and adaptability, to complement technical abilities.
Offer Clear Paths to Advancement
In 2022, average job tenure in the U.S. was 4.1 years, slightly lower than 4.6 years a decade earlier. With career progression no longer a given, employers must provide transparent advancement opportunities to retain ambitious employees. This means establishing formal training programs, creating new roles to fill skills gaps and regularly discussing growth potential with team members.
According to our 2023 Great Resigners Report, 89% of Great Resigners said they planned to take advantage of their new employers’ paid training and upskilling opportunities. Creating an intentional learning environment helps companies retain top performers looking to continuously develop new skills.
Lead with Transparency
Trust and communication are vital for creating an engaged, empowered workforce. But research has found a disconnect: While 4 in 5 (81%) of executives believe company leadership is transparent when sharing news that affects the company, just 58% of employees said the same.
Business leaders who openly share plans, strategy and challenges foster a more invested culture. Our teams model this approach by hosting monthly company wide livestreams, openly discussing priorities and results, and soliciting – and welcoming - feedback.
Beyond transparency and open communication, regular check-ins provide a pulse on employee sentiment. Consistent 1-on-1s and engagement surveys can surface concerns before problems escalate. Keeping a pulse on workforce needs allows agile responses to evolving workplace expectations around areas like DEI, wellbeing and flexibility.
The battle for talent rages on, but employers who listen to workers and provide development opportunities and transparent leadership can turn the tides of retention.