As the pandemic drags on, your employees are more and more likely to feel the effects of a world turned upside down. The lack of in-person connection is leaving people feeling isolated. Living, working, and generally staying at home is leading to burnout. And in a world that feels so out of control, there are still some things people can still control—including where they work.

Even in a time of record unemployment due to the pandemic, 27 percent of employers say employee retention is one of their biggest pain points. You still need top talent in order to meet company goals—especially if you’re operating with a leaner team. Here are 7 ways you can boost employee retention right now:

1. Prioritize employee wellness

Showing employees that you care about their health and wellness is crucial. Employees will not want to stay at your company if they feel their health is at risk, but they may be more likely to stay if you go above and beyond typical benefits during this public health crisis. For example:

  • Enforce safety guidelines in the workplace, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and limiting capacity.
  • Develop expanded leave programs or a paid time off donation policy.
  • Expand healthcare coverage to include mental health, and make sure employees know about available options.
  • Encourage employees to take time off to recharge.
  • Offer a stipend for an online fitness program, or host a guided yoga class.

2. Keep the lines of communication open

Many of your employees may be working remotely for the first time, and adjusting to the lack of in-person communication. Make sure they feel connected to the team through various communication channels. These may include:

  • Regular all-hands meetings (record them for asynchronous viewing)
  • Weekly or bi-weekly manager check-ins
  • A messaging tool like Slack 

3. Listen to your employees

Gather feedback from your employees through one-on-one conversations and surveys. For instance, a wellness check-in can help you learn about a team member’s wellbeing, work relationships, and support structure. Armed with this data, you can get to work on addressing feedback, before employees leave. 

4. Keep your culture alive

Your company culture may play a large role in why employees choose to work at your company, and why they’ve stayed with you. But the pandemic has likely changed many aspects of your culture. Try to find ways to keep it alive. 

For example, if you have a culture of feedback, find ways to incorporate more feedback into meetings and online communication channels. This could include shout-outs during All-hands meetings, or a Praise Wall in Slack. Or, if you pride yourself on an inclusive company culture, move your employee resource groups online and use their feedback to find ways to improve during the pandemic. 

5. Flexible schedules

Flexible schedules are one of the most sought-after perks, perhaps even more so during the pandemic. Some employees may have increased caregiving responsibilities during normal work hours. Some may simply prefer to work a 4x10 schedule while they’re not commuting into an office. And others may like to reduce the amount of time they spend commuting on public transportation in order to get to work. Offering flexible schedules is a great no-cost way to improve the employee experience.

6. Revisit employee onboarding

In addition to retaining the employees you already have, consider how you might better retain any new hires you’re planning to add to your team. Many of them may be working remotely for the first time, or may be coming into the workplace with pre-pandemic expectations. 

It’s common to meet colleagues and go out to lunch with the team on an employee’s first day—but you may not be doing those things to mitigate risk of COVID transmission. Consider how you can adjust employee onboarding to ensure new hires have a great first impression. For instance, set up a Zoom coffee meetup so new hires can meet their teammates.

7. Have some fun

Team building activities can improve collaboration and overall job satisfaction, leading to lower employee turnover. Even in a pandemic, there are many things you can do to enhance the virtual employee experience. For example, themed meetings, a book club, or a talent show. Try to schedule these during normal work hours so everyone can participate. 

Final thoughts on employee retention during a pandemic

The pandemic has brought about many unique challenges for employers, and has essentially upended the employee experience as we know it. Forward-thinking employers are making adjustments to ensure they can retain their employees and meet their business goals.


See how it works

Learn how Sapling can help you automate your workflows and connect your people data across your existing systems.

Request A Demo
7 Ways to Boost Employee Retention During the Pandemic