Better Pay Isn't Always the Key to Talent Retention

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Key to Retaining Talent

Is your organization feeling the effects of the ‘great resignation?’ If not, you are one of the lucky few. Official figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that resignations have been abnormally high through 2021. By the end of August, over 10 million open jobs were left unfilled. In a normal year, average turnover rates are typically under 20%, but in recent research from the Achievers Workforce Institute, over half of survey respondents said they would be looking for a new job in 2021. Retaining talent has become a major issue for many organizations. 

The aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are one cause of today’s great resignation. Some people had the time to reflect on their jobs and they began to wonder if they would rather do something else with their lives. Others hunkered down, put their careers on hold, and waited for the storm to pass. Now the economy is restarting, organizations are hiring, and employees can and will move on. The new normal of remote working also makes it easier and safer for individuals to look for new job opportunities. It has never been easier for organizations to attract and recruit talent more quickly and efficiently. Hiring senior talent without meeting them in person used to be unheard of. Now it’s entirely normal. The new challenges in retaining top talent calls for organizations to think outside of the box and find new ways to keep their employees happy.

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Only–or the Best–Way 

So how can organizations retain talent during the great resignation? One simple solution would be to pay them more, but this doesn’t always work. Apart from those in lower-paying jobs who may need more money just to keep going, the actual amount that companies pay people is less important than whether it’s more or less than what they think they are worth.  In practice, that means: are you paying them more or less than other people doing the same job in your organization or elsewhere? 

If your competitors have deeper pockets than you, this strategy won’t work. And if employees start comparing salaries within your organization, you risk demotivating people and starting a wage war. The end result? Paying more money to less motivated, less engaged employees. 

Reward Employees the Right Way

We all tend to motivate and reward other people in the way that we would like to be motivated and rewarded. If money motivates us, that’s what we offer. If we appreciate autonomy and space, we might try that. The problem is: not everyone is the same.

A better approach is to try and understand your employees as individuals who are motivated by different things and have different personality preferences. This is where tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment can be really useful, both in helping us to recognize how we are different from other people and in understanding what would work for everybody. Once we understand that, we can apply a more tailored approach to rewarding our employees and improve retention. 

Adapt Feedback and Motivational Styles Using “Thinking-Feeling” 

“Thinking-Feeling”, one aspect of the MBTI framework, deals with how we prefer to make decisions. People with a “Thinking” preference prefer to make decisions based on objective logic. Alternatively, those with a “Feeling” preference tend to consider how their decisions affect people and whether the decision lines up with their values. They prefer the decision that feels right rather than the logically correct choice. Understanding how employees arrive at the important decisions in their lives is invaluable in determining employee retention strategy. 

Tailor Recognition and Feedback to Employee Preference

“Thinking-Feeling” influences many aspects of our lives, including how we prefer to receive recognition or appreciation. People with a “Thinking” preference like to be recognized for their competence and expertise. They want to know when they’re doing a good job or going above and beyond the norm. Having this feedback at the end of a project or when a task is completed is important for them. If they are given appreciation on an ongoing basis, such as before the result of their work is clear, it may irritate and demotivate them. 

In contrast, those with a “Feeling” preference like to be appreciated for their efforts. They like to be recognized for their personal contribution, for making a difference (to people, to society, to the world), and for helping others. They generally like a degree of feedback and appreciation throughout a project, not just at the end. 

A “Feeling” employee working for a “Thinking” manager may wonder why they are not getting any feedback during a task. This might cause them to worry and become demotivated. Conversely, a “Thinking” employee working for a “Feeling” manager may dislike praise for their efforts before things are finished. Consequently, they may doubt their manager’s competence, lose respect for them, or wonder if there is an ulterior motive. Once a manager understands how their reports have different needs, they can modify their behavior in a way that helps to keep engagement and motivation high. 

Match Management Style to Employee Personality Preferences 

The other aspects of personality are important in keeping people motivated, too. For example, MBTI theory suggests that people with my INTP personality type want a manager who gives them autonomy. INTPs prefer to do their work their own way without much supervision or detailed schedules. They need a manager who recognizes and rewards them for their expertise and competence and treats them in a consistent way. They value leadership who is open to new ideas and gives them the space to explore new possibilities. 

This may or may not be a manager’s natural style, but knowing about personality types and the MBTI framework will help them to modify their approach to get the best from their employees and keep them motivated. 

Of course, recognizing and adapting to the individuality of employees through their personality type is not the only way to retain talent during the great resignation, but it is an excellent place to start.