To retain talent, support employees in their most difficult times

Since April 2021, nearly 33 million Americans have left their jobs, more than a fifth of the total US workforce. This “big quit” is particularly pronounced among 30-45 year olds, and tech is among the industries most affected. This surprised some; Tech companies are, after all, known for their focus on company culture, which is generally considered the most important factor in employee satisfaction and retention. From free daily meals to lavish parties, from corporate retreats to office massages, they have fostered employee-centric workplaces with “work hard, play hard” philosophies.

But if tech workplaces are so great, why are their employees quitting in droves? And above all, how to make them stop?


The truth is, employees don’t want more perks or fancy parties; they want a better work-life balance and more time with their family. More and more, workers realize that they are happiest not when they have free hot meals, but when they have a meaningful life outside of work.

The shift to remote working has accelerated this trend, as employees have seen firsthand that you simply don’t have to be married to your job, or even be in the office every day, to make a excellent work. With less pressure to focus their lives on their careers, they had time to focus on their interests, hobbies, family and friends, and found great satisfaction and fulfillment in this better balance. work-life.

The biggest names in tech have thus understood that their paradigm was going to have to change. Amazon, Pinterest, Intel and PayPal have all said they are likely to risk losing talent to competitors if they don’t evolve their approach to remote working. But as hybrid schedules become more expected in the wake of the pandemic, companies will need to do more to maintain satisfaction and retain talent. In particular, we need to create policies that facilitate balance for our workers, which starts with better recognition of their life outside of work.


The key to providing benefits that today’s employees will greatly appreciate is identifying where they can use the most help. In this new world of work, employees are very concerned about life cycle events that impact their working lives.

For example, according to a recent Pew survey, nearly half of respondents who voluntarily left their jobs in 2021 said they did so in part because of childcare issues. Employers who focus on these concerns can dramatically improve the lives of their employees. A recent study shows that in US states where paid maternity leave is mandatory, 20% fewer women quit in the first year after giving birth. And paternity leave has been shown to improve marital stability and reduce divorce rates.

While parental leave has become much more common in recent years, there is one area where companies often lag far behind: bereavement. After experiencing a loss in the family, employees are not only grieving, but very often they also have a huge list of logistical tasks falling on them.

In a recent survey of bereaved families, my company found that making all necessary arrangements for their loss, including funerals, bills, debts, taxes, will, probate, etc., took every family on average 420 hours over 15 months. . On average, a grieving employee must spend an hour each working day dealing with these details, which 52% of respondents identified as negatively affecting their job performance.

Standardized bereavement leave is a clear unmet need and a huge opportunity for employers to retain employees. But creating more generous leave policies for lifecycle events is just the start, a step in the right direction. What we really need is a cultural change in our approach to workers that parallels the change in our workplaces.


To truly support their workers, employers need to do more to help them balance their work and life outside the office. They need to understand the importance of treating their employees as individuals, each with their unique needs, wants, interests, and lives.

Today’s employees don’t need fancy pensions. They need the flexibility to take meaningful retirements with their loved ones. They don’t need lavish parties, they need to be there for their kids’ birthdays.

This means fostering an environment in which employees feel safe going to work. In which they feel empowered to coordinate with their managers to ensure they can strike the right balance, so they can pick up their kids from school or be there for family dinner without sacrificing productivity . So they can take a short-term week off to go to a comic book convention or to plan their great-aunt’s memorial service.

Genuine support also means finding ways to bring that balance into the workplace, whether it’s giving them a space to share their baby or vacation photos, or reaching out and making sure that they have everything they need to continue to process and manage a divorce or the loss of a loved one.

In the long term, putting in place policies that create these types of welcoming, balanced and supportive workplaces is the way forward. It’s good for retention, it’s good for productivity, and it’s the right thing to do.

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