The Great Resignation escalated during the second half of last year, with a record 4.4 million Americans quitting their jobs in the month of September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The trend will likely continue this year. A recent survey from CareerArc found that one in five employed Americans want to leave their current position in the next 12 months, and of this group, 59% will look for another job between now and February 2022. In fact, 25% have already begun to search, which means your window of time to bolster employee retention could be short.

To curb high turnover rates, you’ll need to make some positive changes to entice employees to stay. Here are four useful strategies to hold onto your existing team members — and attract new talent — during these unprecedented times:

1. Give Your Culture a Makeover

According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 88% of employed Americans who rated their workplace culture highly said their organization’s values helped them through this pandemic. Similarly, the report shows that 94 percent of managers think a positive culture builds resilient employees.

At the same time, one in four human resources (HR) leaders feel that workplace culture has worsened since the start of COVID-19 because of burnout, exhaustion and poor work-life balance, SHRM continues, a figure that makes sense given that most businesses are still adjusting to the new remote work landscape.

Given the value of a highly rated work culture, especially during a global crisis, it’s vital for businesses to reimagine their culture. The goal is to ensure it supports the wellbeing of all employees, builds morale and promotes camaraderie even in the new hybrid work environment.

Here are some practical ways to reinvigorate your culture from the communication experts at 4PSA:

  • Retool your meeting policy. Be respectful of everyone’s time by limiting the size of each meeting to fewer than 10 participants. Invite just the key stakeholders. Aim for fewer meetings and establish meeting-free time blocks for everyone.
  • Empower your managers to act. Give leaders at all levels the agency to act on new ideas or solutions from their employees. When managers implement the feedback they receive, they’ll be more open to listening to their team. This will make employees feel valued.
  • Promote regular breaks. Make sure that all employees — in the office and at home — take an actual lunch break, instead of eating at their desks. Encourage other breaks or afternoon walks. This can go a long way toward increasing job satisfaction and reducing burnout.
  • Celebrate your employees. Celebrate individuals for their hard work. Show appreciation on a regular basis. Even a “thank you” can go a long way in making your associates feel their work isn’t going unnoticed.

2. Emphasize Your Higher Mission

Now more than ever, employees want a reason to do their best work and remain committed to their role. While a competitive salary, benefits package and on-the-job perks are crucial, to retain your team members long-term, they should know their work has a positive impact.

Almost two-thirds of U.S. professionals say the events of the past two years have caused them to reflect on their life purpose, and nearly 50% report that they don’t feel they’re living their best life at work, according to a McKinsey report.

Make regular efforts to remind team members of the “why” behind their work — the mission statement and core values that drive your business operations. For example, read customer testimonials at town hall meetings so employees can see the impact of their contributions. Also, encourage them to look for creative ways to translate this mission into their daily tasks, so they feel connected to a higher sense of purpose aside from just earning a paycheck.

3. Address COVID-19 Health and Safety Concerns

Despite the increased vaccination rates in 2021, COVID-19 and its variants are still a concern for workers. About one-quarter of surveyed professionals believe they’ll transition back on site full-time next year, and 73% expect to wear a mask while in the office, according to a recent Korn Ferry poll. But for many workers, masks aren’t enough to assuage their anxieties about their safety.

“If employees feel their employers aren’t taking their well-being seriously enough, they will leave and find an employer who does,” Elise Freedman, Korn Ferry’s organization strategy and workforce transformation practice leader, said in the press release. This makes prioritizing workplace cleaning and safety paramount.

According to the commercial cleaning experts at SERVPRO, businesses across the U.S. have implemented the following practices as a result of the coronavirus. Consider adding some or all of them to your protocol, especially as you bring more employees back into the office.

  • Use a CDC-approved cleaning company in combination with a janitorial service.
  • Ensure that the office is cleaned several times a day.
  • Commit to deep cleaning until COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
  • Limit group meetings to allow for social distancing.
  • Make hand sanitizer stations accessible throughout the workplace.
  • Take employees’ temperatures before they enter the office.
  • Install special UV light sanitizing devices in the office.

4. Update Your Technology for Hybrid Work

The rapid shift to remote or hybrid work over the past two years has emphasized just how crucial technology is in the modern business landscape. In fact, a report by Workfront found that almost half of employees will consider leaving a job because of frustration with the current tech stack.

Be sure to offer best-in-class digital solutions that allow employees to communicate with each other, locate and share files, track and report analytics, schedule content, manage customer data, collaborate on projects, attend virtual meetings and complete training.

But remember, when it comes to building your tech stack, less is often more. Rather than overloading your team with numerous tools that require them to toggle back and forth from one dashboard to another, streamline your tech stack down to as few multi-function platforms as possible.

Now Is the Time to Act

Just because The Great Resignation is expected to continue doesn’t mean retention is impossible. Organizations that can offer an exciting workplace culture, lead with their higher purpose, prioritize health and safety and provide employees with the tools they need to thrive in a hybrid environment are more likely to hold onto as many employees as possible.