More than 47 million employees left their jobs in 2021 in what is known as The Great Resignation. For most of these workers, the COVID-19 pandemic was a major factor in their decision to leave their jobs, but it wasn’t the only factor. A new study by Real Estate Witch surveyed 1,000 full-time employees who resigned from a job since January 2021. Its findings reveal interesting insights into why workers have really been leaving their jobs and the sacrifices they’re willing to make to find better job satisfaction.

Although The Great Resignation appeared like a mass quit from millions of workers, it was actually the end of a long process. Nearly cited burnout as one of the main reasons. But it wasn’t the pandemic that significantly increased burnout. A study from Indeed found that while 43% of employees were burned out before the pandemic, that figure rose to just 52% during the pandemic, suggesting that employees were already close to being fed up.

The pandemic was essentially the final straw. Employees in public-facing positions, including employees in retail and hospitality, were the most likely to quit, reflecting the need for more staffing and support.

Let’s look at how to retain your employees and get ahead of workplace challenges before it gets too far.

Low Pay Isn’t The Issue

Employees don’t always accept or stay at a job that pays a lot of money. Also according to Real Estate Witch, the top reason employees quit in 2021 was because of a toxic workplace culture characterized by verbal abuse, sexual harassment, discrimination and poor work-life boundaries. Low pay and bad benefits were only the fourth and fifth most commonly cited reasons for quitting. Respondents say they’d take an average pay cut of $23,000 to work in an environment that was more positive than their last workplace.

The Great Resignation has shown that there’s a human cost to stressful workplace cultures and that high pay doesn’t necessarily make up for horrible bosses and tons of pressure. Among workers who resigned during The Great Resignation, Real Estate Witch found that 35% still do not have jobs and 50% of those have been unemployed for six months or more. Some may be living paycheck to paycheck, however a majority (56%) don’t regret quitting without a job lined up.

Today, employees are looking for a job that can give them a work-life balance and job satisfaction. These are byproducts of an engaging and equitable culture. To cultivate a workplace culture, your hiring policies should reflect your company’s mission statement and vision. Don’t focus on job skills only. Interview candidates about their values and cultural preferences to ensure a safe and healthy culture for everyone.

Meet Workers’ Expectations or Risk Turnover

Nearly a quarter of people who resigned in 2021 did so because their employer wanted them to return to in-office work. Many employees who got a taste of remote work during the pandemic aren’t on board with that idea. Remote work allows employees to work from anywhere. Due to this new expectation, employers should plan to be more flexible with their employees’ working hours and environment.

One of the most effective ways to ensure your employees expectations are being met is to conduct periodic “retention interviews.” This is a formal way to touch base with your employees and find out how they feel about their job, the company and their future. Making this a regular, recurring activity at your company allows both parties to course correct before problems become insurmountable.

Invest in Your Employees

Hiring isn’t cheap. Experts estimate that the cost of replacing an employee is around one-half to double that employee’s annual salary. The good news is that a fraction of that amount can be incredibly helpful in retaining talent. Talk to your employees about professional goals and career progression. Help them work toward those goals by paying for them to update their skills or acquire new ones. You’ll be enhancing your workforce while showing them you care about their goals and desires. A small training budget can pay massive dividends in workforce satisfaction and retention.

If You Lose Employees, Hire Quickly

Employers want a lean, efficient workforce, but there’s a fine line between employees who are productive and those that are overworked. An understaffed workforce often means current workers have to take on an extra load to compensate, which can lead to burnout.

Moving Forward

During today’s war on talent, the labor market is still very competitive. Qualified candidates shouldn’t have a problem finding a new job — so don’t give them a reason to go looking for one. Invest in your employees, listen to their concerns and make the culture positive. Then and only then, can your company have a fighting chance at retaining its workforce and staying competitive.