In an Uncertain Job Market, How Can Companies Retain Workers?

Professor Klotz said leaders needed to be listening to their workers right now. “They need to ask, How are you experiencing the late pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and other things going on in your life?” he said, adding that high levels of “burnout and stress are predictors of quitting.”

As a result, managers should be checking with their employees in one-to-one conversations as well as with large-scale questionnaires. The software giant HubSpot, for example, conducts quarterly employee engagement surveys. “We can get up to 7,000 comments and we literally read and analyze every single one of them to understand how we’re doing,” Eimear Marrinan, the company’s senior director of culture, said.

Of course, analysis is only an initial step; taking action is the next, and it is the one most likely to affect employees directly. In 2021, HubSpot “heard an overwhelming amount of feedback that our employees were burned out and that we weren’t doing enough for our employees’ mental health,” Ms. Marrinan said. The fix centered on “unplugging” HubSpot as an organization, she said. That included giving employees a week of rest every July. And no internal meetings are permitted on Fridays, “so that employees can actually disconnect from Zoom,” she added.

In addition, all managers “had psychological safety training to make sure they could show up in the right way for our employees,” Ms. Marrinan said. The company also began offering more extensive mental health benefits.

Ms. Marrinan said the efforts paid off: The company “halved the level of burnout” over the course of the year, as determined by subsequent surveys.

Two other factors that have been found to help retain employees are offering remote work options and more consistent scheduling for those for whom remote work is not an option, Mr. Sull’s 2021 analysis found.

At Hilton Worldwide Holdings, for example, Laura Fuentes, the company’s chief human resources officer, said creating policies could be complicated when the work force was divided between those working at one of its 18 brands and those who work at corporate headquarters. But “we know all team members want flexibility,” she said.