6 Ways to Beat the Great Resignation with Employee Experience

An employee sitting in front of his laptop and holding his glasses feeling stressed from work

Struggling to hang onto your best people during this tight talent war? Use these employee experience strategies to stem the tide during the Great Resignation. 

Millions of workers have already left their jobs. Millions of openings remain unfilled. And resignation rates have reached an all-time high, with more than half of Americans reporting that they plan on looking for a new opportunity within the next 12 months. The Great Resignation is a reality — and pressing challenge — for employers, one organizations must work to address, or risk losing their best people.  

While we can’t promise any quick fixes for the problem at hand, we can provide six powerful employee experience strategies to help you navigate this new, ever-evolving landscape in the age of the Great Resignation.

#1: Meet changing employee needs in the moment. 

The global pandemic has transformed virtually all aspects of our lives. As employers, these dramatic changes are directly impacting our employees and that requires us to be responsive and nimble in our people practices. 

Investing in and prioritizing employee experience has never been more important as we weather continued uncertainty.  

With more workers resigning, retiring early, changing jobs, and investigating new careers paths it’s important for employers to: 

    • Focus on emerging employee experience needs like mental health, wellbeing, safety, belonging, flexibility, and work-life balance.
    • Keep in mind that employees will always have a need for growth and development as well as ongoing appreciation and recognition.
    • Strengthen the talent pool by reaching out to past (“silver medal”) candidates, as well as retired and former employees.
    • Focus on doing things for employees rather than to employees.

Recent findings from a Sense360 By Medallia Return to Work Report underscore the importance of understanding and responding to employee preferences, particularly in regards to workplace flexibility. In fact, nearly half of workers (49%) whose work setup preferences are not possible say they would be “somewhat” or “very likely” to seek a new opportunity with a different company sometime within the next year.

#2: Make employee experience a company-wide priority.

Effective employee experience strategies require shared ownership across many departments.

That’s a key insight from our Moving Toward Employee Experience Excellence Report, produced in collaboration between the Medallia Institute and industry analyst Josh Bersin, which looked at employee experience programs across more than 600 organizations to understand the link between strong employee experience practices and positive people outcomes, like employee satisfaction and engagement. The research found that top employee experience leaders:

  • Evolve beyond thinking about employee experience in a silo by making employee experience an overall business strategy, not simply an HR priority.
  • Set employee experience goals throughout the organization. Nearly half (49%) of employee experience leaders report doing so, compared to 9% of employee experience laggards, according to our research.
  • Communicate employee experience goals throughout the organization. More than half (51%) of employee experience leaders report doing so, compared to 11% of laggards, we found.
  • Involve the entire company in employee experience initiatives. About three-quarters (72%) of companies with leading employee experience strategies say that team leaders and people managers are highly involved in their organizations’ employee experience initiatives, while only 18% of companies with lagging employee experience strategies say so, per our findings.

An image showing the percentage of leaders involved in company's ex initiative

#3: Create a solid foundation for exceptional employee experiences.

Designing employee experience programs is an art and a science. Here are the fundamental steps employers should take when building out employee experience programs. 

  • Apply design-thinking practices to your employee experience model.
  • Define employee personas throughout your company and utilize function-specific journey mapping for various teams, including front-line workers, corporate staff, remote associates, and more.
  • Define the problem you need to solve first. Then design the listening mechanism, identify the stakeholders, and where to send data to implement action. 
  • Listen — and respond — continuously. Since employee experience is organic and ever changing, it requires a continuous focus. There is a difference between continuous listening and continuous response. To be effective, trusted, and innovative, you must ask, listen, and act. 
  • Define your purpose and stakeholders. Always ask this two-pronged question: What will we do with the data we collect and who owns which category of data?
  • Close the loop by getting data to the right people so they can take action.  

#4: Collect feedback and take meaningful action.

Companies can advance transformative change when they not only listen, but learn and move forward with data-driven decisions that drive better employee outcomes. 

Employers that get this right:

  • Ask for feedback and balance the viewpoints. As a company, what questions do you want to ask? For employees, ensure opportunities for your people to share what they want. 
  • Don’t chase 100% survey participation. Perfection may prove to be elusive. You can still accomplish a lot with the data and feedback you do receive. 
  • Identify a visible and trusted leader to share the goals and timeframe around survey efforts to instill trust and increase response rates. Remember to explain why employee participation and input is important and how insights gathered will be used. 
  • Collect and analyze unsolicited feedback, in addition to solicited feedback captured via surveys. As we found when conducting our Moving Toward Employee Experience Excellence analysis, 43% of high-performing companies collect and analyze text-based open feedback, 43% also monitor community channels, and 31% take advantage of crowdsourcing software. Going even further, 40% analyze contact center calls and 36% review external brand websites. With this wide range of feedback, these organizations tie together many sources of information to achieve a holistic view of the employee experience.
  • Demonstrate responsive action. When surveying, reference past surveys and say, “Here’s what action we took based upon your feedback from the X survey we conducted in Y. ” Demonstrating action will increase future responses. 

#5: Compare you to you. 

Instead of comparing your company’s employee experience outcomes to other organizations’ results, focus on internal benchmarks. Capture your baseline and monitor changes in your KPIs that result from new policies and programs by being sure to:

  • Use annual surveys to plot long-term trends and benchmarks. 
  • Create an always-on listening program powered by pulse surveys that enable employees to provide feedback anytime, in the flow of work. Use the results from these pulse surveys to guide decision-making and actions — for instance around improvements that can be made to the onboarding process or the company’s IT systems.

#6: Understand the unique needs of different groups within your workforce. 

Employee experience is not a monolith. Experience can vary based on type of worker — those in desk positions, customer-facing positions, in-field positions, and deskless roles — and by how the worker identifies, by gender, race, age, and more. To ensure equitable listening, employers should:

    • Define employee personas by demographics, such as job type (deskless vs. desk employees), worksetup (remote vs. hybrid vs. in person), age, race, gender, tenure or years of experience (increasingly popular), and functional area.
    • Use segmentation to customize listening programs and tactics tailored to these personas. 
    • Understand how employee persona affects employee experience by comparing experiences across demographic areas to uncover potential bias and other demographic-related experience differentiators.
    • Address the root cause of problems to advance more equitable experiences. Bring together internal stakeholders, develop a plan of action, establish goals and metrics, communicate that plan to your people, and share regular progress updates.

Final Thoughts

For leaders navigating this uncertain world of work, it’s important to remember that the journey to improving employee experience is ongoing. Be gentle with yourself, and know that it’s OK to start with small steps. Begin by focusing on a single aspect of employee experience, such as the candidate or onboarding experience. Then iterate and grow your program over time, using data to guide your strategy every step of the way.  

Looking to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent during the Great Resignation? Read Medallia’s full Moving Toward Employee Experience Excellence report to learn what sets employee experience leaders apart from the rest.