Resignation, Retention, and Respect: HR Insights on Workplace Culture Post-COVID
August 7, 2023
HR Insights, Workplace Culture
There were many words thrown around repeatedly during the COVID-19 pandemic; common ones being virus, distancing, and mask, but nearly as frequent was the word ‘resignation’. The pandemic caused millions of people to up and leave their jobs due to health concerns, fear of the virus, or just because they saw it as an opportunity to leave a bad job. As we all know now, this monumental movement became known as “The Great Resignation”. While we have all heard the statistics around quit rates from that time, the story now is how that has impacted workplace cultures in the years that have followed. HR departments in many businesses took a step back and took what they heard was really important to their employees and re-evaluated that against what was also important to the business.
According to Lattice, retention of employees has taken priority over the recruiting of new employees for many companies. That’s not to say finding new talent isn’t important anymore it’s just changed in the hierarchy of needs for most businesses. Reports from Lattice in 2022 show that 61% of HR teams prioritize employee retention, 28% are in the middle, and 12% still want to acquire new hires. This may also be impacted by the concerns that have run rampant in 2023 about an impending recession. No matter how hard companies try, they know they can’t hire their way out of a recession; employees make a company. With this premise in mind, companies have also grappled with how to create an enjoyable and professional virtual work environment for their remote employees. For those that could do it, remote working became the main way many businesses continued functioning during the pandemic, and even post-pandemic kept the option available for employee morale and safety. Most companies found they didn’t have an issue with workplace productivity from the switch to virtual (as so many feared they would), but were then faced with a new challenge – how to keep their company culture strong and how help employees feel connected with others through a screen.
As an intern with the HR team at Quatrro Business Support Services this summer, I was interested in understanding how companies can improve morale, keep employees engaged socially, and make them feel valued, even though they are not under a single company roof? To find out more, I sat down with David Ford, EVP Global Human Resources at Quatrro, and Dan McBain, HR Manager at Quatrro, and interviewed them to get their thoughts on the topic.
Did “The Great Resignation” affect Quatrro?
When asked how the great resignation affected Quatrro, both David and Dan responded with, ”Minimally”. They saw it more as a positive impact on the organization than a negative because it enabled them to hire talent in different parts of the US and India, which they had never really pursued before. While other companies were getting caught up in the media hype during that time, Quatrro kept looking forward and focused on their clients, and most importantly their employees. While many people in general resigned because of fear of the virus, and how it could affect their health, David indicated that Quatrro actually came out ahead of the curve. Very early in the pandemic, even before official lockdowns happened, Quatrro didn’t hesitate to put its employees first, so sent them all home to work remotely to make sure they were safe and healthy. This early leadership action showed the employees the level of care the company had for them, which translated to low employee attrition globally.
How would you rate the importance of employee retention to Quatrro?
Without hesitation, both David and Dan responded that, “employee retention is a top priority for Quatrro”. This might sound like a routine HR response but numbers don’t lie; 30% of Quatrro’s workforce has 10+ years tenure with the company. For reference, the national average for company tenure is 27%, making Quatrro higher than the national average. David and Dan mentioned they like to get to know each of their employees personally – they said that even just asking about someone’s day or seeing what their weekend plans are go a long way in keeping employees happy and connected. When an employee feels personally connected, and not just another worker in a corporate structure, that will make them want to stay with the company. And while they do take effort, David and Dan indicated to me that you don’t need to be in-person to connect with people and do the kind of small things that let people know they matter and that someone cares about them as a person.
It’s been shown hybrid workplace productivity isn’t really an issue, but rather its company culture that seems to suffer. How have you, as an HR team, tried to strengthen Quatrro’s company culture since COVID?
Whether someone works from home, in the office, or somewhere in-between, both David and Dan agree that, as long as you’re productive and are happy in whatever work environment you choose then you should continue that routine, even post pandemic. While other companies have forced employees back into an office setting, Quatrro has decided to continue to offer more flexibility to their employees. David noted that, company culture can be a very subjective topic: some employees might feel connected through a Teams meeting, while others might feel more connected having lunch with a co-worker in the break room – everyone is different. Quatrro’s HR team has also encouraged employees to be part of initiatives and groups within the company to make sure everyone feels heard. They are proud of the DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion) committee that was started during the pandemic years and is 100% employee led. This committee was responsible for helping to add Juneteenth as a recognized holiday on the company calendar starting this year. The DEAI committee has also promoted companywide changes with preferred pronoun email signatures, and a new parental leave policy. HR wants to be the megaphone to help spread the message out across the company to not only include others, but also to value and respect differences between yourself and others. They believe this is a key component of the positive culture within Quatrro.
During my interview with David and Dan, it was clear that no matter what challenges are thrown at Quatrro, their HR team and other leaders will always be ready to be proactive with a solution that not only works for the business, but for their employees as well. Always putting employees first, valuing their feedback, and respecting everyone’s opinions is the motto that Quatrro’s HR team lives and works by day in and day out.