Employee Retention in the Age of the Great Resignation

By Kris Janisch
Published Feb. 22, 2022

Employee Retention in the Age of the Great Resignation

A group of HR and compliance professionals on Feb. 22, 2022, came together to discuss Employee Retention in the Age of the Great Resignation during Compliance and Coffee, a virtual roundtable presented by GovDocs.

How are some of the nation’s largest employers handling employee recruitment and retention?

A group of HR and compliance professionals on Feb. 22, 2022, came together to discuss the topic during Compliance and Coffee, a virtual roundtable presented by GovDocs.

In a wide-ranging hourlong discussion, they touched on their challenges and successes in keeping and attracting talent, especially noteworthy during the Great Resignation, a surge of employees quitting over the past year or so.

Below are some of the key takeaways from the conversation, along with specifics about what these companies are doing in the face of employee turnover, hybrid work and the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The discussion kicked off with a corporate recruiter at a multi-state entertainment operation who said her organization has seen applicants being more forthright about what they want out of a job. The hybrid work environment is appealing to many employees, and simply putting “permanent hybrid” on a job posting can increase the number of applicants from 20 to 100.

Also, she said, hiring managers have had to be more open minded about applicants. Even a few years ago, job jumping and gaps in resumes were red flags. But that’s less of an issue these days.

Meanwhile, a senior people partner at a restaurant chain said the pandemic has shown the human side of employees and job applicants. She, too, said flexibility is important in hiring, especially with the career expectations of Generation Z. More often, they are firm in what they want out of a position.

“This is what I need. If you don’t give it to me, bye-bye,” she said.

With people working at more companies throughout their careers, there has been a shift in how hiring managers view candidates, a lead employee relations paralegal said. And a broader background can be a good thing, she said, with more diversity of thought and perspective.

Employers are looking for top talent, she said, “Not just somebody to fill a seat.”

Retaining Employees

Talk then turned to employee retention.

The director of employee relations at one of the largest retailers in the U.S. said his company took several steps to keep its workforce, mostly hourly employees, happy:

  • Moving to a $15 minimum wage, and making that move six months earlier than initially announced
  • Getting ahead of hero/hazard pay laws
  • Giving out bonuses to non-exempt employees

He said that last item proved challenging to implement (especially in California, as per usual), considering the bulk of his company’s 300,000 or so workers are non-exempt.

Along those same lines, one participant said her organization expanded eligibility for employee benefits to retain workers.

“It’s not just about pay in terms of retaining and attracting talent,” she said, adding that providing mental health assistance and thinking of employees’ overall wellness has also been important during the pandemic.

Hybrid Work

Of course, hybrid work has become increasingly common during the past two years. And there was plenty of discussion about the topic from the Compliance and Coffee participants.

At the headquarters of a major U.S. retailer, “We may never go back,” one participant said.

His organization has very few roles in the office full time, and the company will continue to be flexible with asking employees to return.

But allowing employees to work from home opens the door other recruitment and retention questions:

  • How is a hybrid model defined?
  • What about the tax and payroll implications of employees working elsewhere?
  • Would employees balk at a return to the office?
  • What about unused office space?
  • How to build a remote work policy allowing employees to work part of the year or all the time in a different state with little or no guidance from the law?

Two of the participants said their companies had opened new offices. One was in a suburb outside the major city where the corporate offices are mostly empty. The other was constructed with employee input and designed to provide a more welcoming environment.

For some, the ability to work elsewhere has its limits, namely the U.S. border. But a senior compliance analyst at a large recruitment company said they have an expatriate program, and are getting a lot of requests for the Virgin Islands.

“Do they have labor law posters there?” she said.

On the flip side, one participant said employees have taken advantage of working from home — to the company’s detriment. An employee who seemed to know she would be fired soon banked paid time off, moved to Colorado, where employers must pay out unused vacation time, and quit.

Other items that came up during the discussion of remote and hybrid work included:

  • Commuter benefits
  • Finding legal precedence for employees not living in their “work location”
  • Virtual onboarding
  • Connecting as a team (group Peloton rides, anyone?)
  • Allowing flexibility for employees to get out of the house or see a doctor

In the end, there seemed to be a consensus that allowing hybrid work will be a major factor in employee recruitment and retention moving forward.


Lastly, the group briefly touched on rehiring practices.

The senior HR compliance analyst at the staffing firm said they have been reaching out to former employees in “huge numbers.”

A director of compliance, HR said her organization hires a lot of college students, who may move back home after years of school. They try to determine if a new location would be a good fit. Most would be eligible for rehiring unless the former employee is on a specific list.

Rehiring has also been a focus at the entertainment company. The corporate recruiter said they work to answer questions about why an employee left and is coming back, and how to make the return a positive experience.

About Compliance and Coffee

Employment law issues get your brain going? Enjoy interacting with your peers? Join us!

Facilitated by GovDocs, Compliance and Coffee is a virtual roundtable bringing together HR and compliance professionals to discuss the employment law issues of the day. Attend our events to network and interact, talk about the latest news and trends, and discuss what’s working (and what isn’t) in the world of employment law compliance.

You don’t need to have all the answers – just come ready to engage in an informative discussion.

Keep an eye out for an announcement about our next Compliance and Coffee.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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