6 Ways to Improve Retention and Why Directors with HR Skills are Becoming Essential Amid Great Resignation

We’ve all heard about The Great Resignation — the large scale of employees resigning and moving elsewhere.

In 2021, reports show one in four workers left their jobs.

The reasons? A combination of searching for better benefits, flexibility, and higher salaries, especially after the last two years, shifted people’s expectations of their work and personal values.

The most significant byproduct of the great resignation is the tremendous labour shortage — in all fields! From retail to hospitality to tech.

Forcing many companies to either lower their hiring standards, poach from competitors, or throw money to capture any candidate out there.

As CBC reports, a recent survey by Express Employment Professionals of 510 Canadian hiring decision-makers shows one in four employers have hired someone they usually wouldn’t have due to the shortage in the workers poll.

The survey took place between November 10 and December 2 of last year.

To help navigate The Great Resignation, many companies have started hiring board directors with Human Resources skills.

This blog will cover WHY companies are looking for HR skills and six ways to retain talent at your company.

Why it’s important to have HR skills as a Director?

Historically, corporate boards leaned heavily towards current and former CEOs, CFOs, lawyers and academics.

In the boardroom, there were rarely folks who managed the talent, meaning CHROs, chief people officers, and others.

But that’s changing now.

Company leaders are pushed from every side to explain how they plan to attract and retain top talent midst growing job reshuffling — increasingly turning to board members for guidance.

Research shows companies are welcoming directors who have actual human resource experience.

According to Institutional Shareholder Service, specific human-resources skills in directorship roles increased from 11.3% to 19.4% in two years across companies in the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 1500.

“Corporate leaders are facing an avalanche of workplace issues with no easy answers.” — Susan Caminiti, CNBC.

Leaders are scrambling to find workers and offer pay and benefits to keep them from quitting while navigating the “new normal,” aka the hybrid remote/in-person world.

Directors are spending more time on people issues.

A director survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows talent management is now the top area needing more time and attention in the boardroom, surpassing strategy and crisis management for the first time.

-> In this blog, you’ll find  People Management Tips for First-Time Managers

Hiring directors who have dealt with these issues every day MAKES SENSE.

Additionally, data says hiring these directors better represent the demographics of the workforce.

In 2016, 11% of directors with HR skills were under 55, now that figure it 29%.

Why HR shouldn’t fear The Great Resignation

What if we told you The Great Resignation is something you shouldn’t fear?

What if this is simply the best opportunity to reflect, change direction and reimagine your team and future.

“Not a Great Resignation, but a Great Reimagination,” — Kokoro Robinson, Velocity Global’s vice president of talent acquisition.

Terminology matters

Terms like the “Great Resignation” make it seem as though there’s a winner and a loser—an “us” and a “them.”

It’s based on a scarcity mindset rather than a growth mindset.

The pandemic guaranteed every person, industry and organization experienced a big change. We’ve all reevaluated our lives, values and goals, including professionally.

So, maybe this is the perfect time for your company to reinvent its HR approach.

Beyond seeking guidance on attraction and retention strategies, corporate leaders are now looking to their HR executives for a host of talent-related issues.

Including:  how to create fair and sustainable remote and hybrid schedules, wellness programs to battle burnout, and how to redesign offices so that workers actually want to come back.

Below are six steps your HR and board team can start doing to help boost employee retention.

Six Ways To Retain Staff Amidst The Great Resignation

These steps are suggestions to help you retain staff. You can focus on one at a time or all at once depending on your employee capacity.

1. Reinvent your Recruitment Process

The goal of every company is to hire top talent to build strong teams who will help us achieve our goals.

To form these teams, we rely on a cycle. The cycle ranges from hiring to team composition — onboarding practices, team dynamics, individual talent, etc.

And retaining talent always begins with the recruitment process.

Although advertising a job vacancy is straightforward, hiring the right people is one of the most challenging tasks employers face.

-> In this blog, I break down step by step how to Reinvent Your Hiring. And How a Solid Recruitment Process Increases your Impact

Unicorn Labs creative team

2. Offer Incentives

Cost-of-living has been rising for the past two years — have you seen the price of gas lately!?

With the financial battles to afford… life, your employees will appreciate if you can help them in any way.

As a startup, you might not be able to increase salaries, but you can consider alternative incentives to support employees.

Ideas: paying for parking permits or transport, offer remote working to save expenses, add a benefits and rewards program where employees can receive discounts on retails, entertainment and/or travel.

By offering incentives, your employees will feel valued at work and will be most likely to stay.

-> Here’s How to Make Your Employees Feel Valued at Work

3. Change your Company Culture

As startups, we spend time and money on marketing campaigns to build a loyal customer base. But we often neglect to develop an equally strong employment brand to attract the best applicants.

Just like we want a brand for our customers, we want a brand for our employees.

The way an organization operates and communicates its values helps attract and retain talent who want to be part of a great workplace environment.

The key is enjoyment and satisfaction and for that, you need to foster a great company culture.

Planning retreats, opportunities for staff to get to know each other, lunches, after work drinks, learn and develop strategies are crucial.

If you haven’t yet, asses your learning culture.

-> Why a Culture of Learning Should Be a Priority at Your Startup And 3 Ways to Implementing Better Learning

Your reputation (internally too) will determine if you are attracting and RETAINING the top talent or steering them away.

4. Include Wellbeing Programmes

In 2020-2021, it was reported 822,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK, with 449,000 of those attributed to the effects of the pandemic.

Caring for your employee’s mental health and wellbeing should be a pillar at your company, along with psychological safety — the first step to achieve a high-performing team — to ensure people feel supported and comfortable to speak about their struggles.

Checking on your employees can look like a lot of different ways, from manager 1-on-1 check ins, to coaching conversations, workshops and more.

In return, this can translate to less sickness absence, work burnout, and increase in productivity.

-> 10 Myths and Realities about Productivity and How to Boost It At Your Startup

Unicorn Labs creative team

5. Offer Flexibility

If there is one lesson we have all learned over the past two years is, we are living in an age of unpredictability – or perhaps how Nassim Talib, author of The Black Swan, would put it,  that we are coming to terms with our inability to actually predict true randomness.

The impacts of COVID-19 — being a “Black Swan,” an unpredictable event that was deemed improbable yet caused massive changes — have ultimately altered our workplace ecosystems.

That is why the word ‘pivot’ became a big part of our vocabulary throughout the pandemic.

If you fail to reinvent and adapt as a startup, you and the organization will stall and ultimately fail.

Office-based staff have become accustomed to the benefits of working from home — from spending more time with their families, to saving money and time on commute, resting more, etc.

In my humble opinion, you can’t force people to go back to the office full-time after they’ve proved they can produce the same quality of work from home.

Offering flexible work opportunities will be crucial to retain talent.

-> 10 Best Online Tools and Resources to Help Startups be Successful in 2022

6. Invest in upskilling and personal development

According to Challenger Hiring Survey, 70% of employers who are actively hiring report a skills shortage.

Developing your team’s skills is one of the most impactful investments you can do.

Promoting continuous learning and development at your company can boost employees’ job satisfaction and engagement while keeping their skills competitive and maximizing their potential.

Offer employees budgets for training and books, to help expand their knowledge.

This is the same not only work workers, but for your managers and leaders alike.

-> Leaders are Made, Not Born: How to Select a Leadership Training Program for Your Startup

Closing Remarks

By now you understand why it's important to have HR skills in your board.

As startups, we are continuously changing and evolving, and outside factors (such as the pandemic) present a new layer of obstacles. But I'm confident that with the steps we've provided you here today, you'll be able to resurface even stronger.

If you are looking to upscale your leadership skills, check out Unicorn Lab's development program.

Related posts


Subscribe for your remote team management free education series.

Five lessons and five tools delivered to your inbox for the next five weeks.
No Thanks