Written in collaboration with Chas Fields, HCM Strategic Advisor at UKG.

There is no question that times are changing, especially when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. How HR leaders manage their top performers at their organization has a direct impact on the employee’s success and the business overall. While many organizations have adopted new strategies to support these changing times, many employees still feel like the organizations is not listening to their needs and have doubt about the critical business decisions leaders are making, which leads to what we call FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt. As you can imagine, the impact this has on your people's engagement and productivity is profound, especially among your organization's top performers.

In fact, a recent study by the Workforce Institute at UKG proved “two in three (63 percent) of employees feel their voice has been ignored in some way by their manager or employer, which may have a devastating impact on retention. As a result, many employees are feeling uncertain about their future. And if they're feeling uncertain and unheard, why would they stay?

That same report, titled The Heard and the Heard-Nots, showed organizations are increasingly struggling to retain their current workforce and having a difficult time hiring fast enough to keep up with consumer demand. It went on to say if left unresolved, these issues can disengage workers, fuel turnover, and hinder business performance. Organizations need to take proactive measures to manage their people's fear, uncertainty, and doubt when it comes to hiring and retaining top performers. As HR leaders, this means creating a culture that gives employees a voice in the decisions you're making. When employees feel they're heard and understood and feel a sense of belonging, they become more engaged and the organization thrives.

Are you ready to fight the FUD? It all starts with teaching your people leaders the following three principles:

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1. People leaders need to lead with empathy

As HR professionals, we need to train our people leaders to hear the voice of all employees and ensure that they are heard equally and equitably.  The Heard and Heard-Nots report also showed that "a third of employees (34 percent) would rather quit or switch teams than voice their true concerns with management."  This is devastating to businesses because opportunities to understand employees get missed in this kind of environment.

When you understand the needs and wants of your employees you can put practices in place to ensure their psychological and physical safety. We must consider what employees have been through, especially over the last 18 months, and develop a new strategy that leads with empathy to help our people feel a sense of belonging. HR technology can help your leaders keep pace with this as well through options such as pulse surveys that let you quickly and regularly check in on how employees are feeling about specific aspects of your work environment and culture.

2. People leaders need to connect with their people

HR professionals play a key role in educating people leaders on how to better identify the expectations of their employees and meet them where they are, so that they feel understood and supported. So you have to ask, what does connection look like? We aren’t just talking about our cell phones or email. We’re talking about a checklist of continuous communication, helping employees understand the business and how they impact it, building a sense of trust so employees feel like they can share preferences and desires with leadership.

As you begin to strategize these efforts, make sure you maintain active and actionable communication that’s easily received and tracked to allow you to be agile going forward. The other key here is to ensure you're using the channels your people will actually engage with. Your communication strategy needs to be flexible and available in the locations and on the devices your people use most.

3. People leaders need to invest in their people

Last, but certainly not least, HR and people leaders need to ensure that employees have the tools and resources they need to succeed.  When employees feel empowered through these resources, they are more productive and engaged in their work, driving workplace success and creating a culture where employees want to work and stay.

One of the easiest ways to understand what your people need to work effectively is to ask. Step out of the “way we’ve always done it” mentality and start thinking “what would help you” instead. In our experience consulting with companies around the globe, we’ve witnessed that some of the best ideas come from inside organizations.

A great place to start is leveraging HR technology to identify skills gaps and compare them to your employees' career development plans. What is hindering employee growth, and does it require a certain set of tools? Are there commonalities amongst various teams where you see the same trends? Focus on specific areas of investment that match employees' desires so they can focus on the work they’re doing without limitations.

Conclusion: Find simple, sustainable solutions to retain your top performers

We often have a tendency to overcomplicate the employee journey. Yes, there are a significant amount of moving parts and expectations are consistently changing, but the goal is to focus on transparency at work so employees can feel certain about the days ahead while working for your organization. Continue with your two-way communication and address concerns head on to ensure continuity. One more thing, don’t be afraid to celebrate the successes as you continue to create a best-in-class work environment.

A big part of getting to this level of simplicity and sustainability is the HR systems you have powering your interactions with your people, especially those top performers you rely on. A flexible, seamless HR solution lets you proactively address the needs of your people to retain them and give them the tools they need to excel in their roles. If you need help finding the right fit for your needs, check out our buyer's guide.

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Published: Wednesday, July 21, 2021