How to Retain Top Talent During a Labour Shortage

8 min read

 the Great Resignation in full swing, many employers are left scrambling to recruit talented staff for shifts.

During the process, it’s easy to overlook the engine that fuels their business: their top talent. The employees who show up to work, day in and day out and bring value to your business.

On top of costly head hunter fees, did you know that replacing an employee can cost anywhere from 30% to 200% of a person’s salary?

Instead of investing your time and money in recruitment, a more practical solution would be to find ways to retain your top employees.

Without them, your business won’t be operating at a functional level anyways!

Here are 5 ways to retain top talent during a labour shortage :

1. Optimize your onboarding process

Did you know that 30% of job seekers leave a job within 90 days of starting?

And that 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced a great onboarding from the start?

These alarming stats shed light on the importance of having an optimized onboarding process in place.

While it’s easy to assume that an employee’s onboarding process begins on their first day, it starts a lot earlier than that.

Employee onboarding is a long-term strategy that begins during the application phase and extends well into a new hire’s six-month mark.


“The first day, first month and third month are the times when employees are most vulnerable and subject to change. As a manager, it’s in your best interest to keep them engaged.”-  COO of Evolia, Max Trudel


Without an optimized onboarding process, employees are left feeling incompetent and disengaged from their role, which leads to them going through the motions and eventually looking for new opportunities elsewhere.

There are several onboarding stages, all of which require specific goals and best practices at each stage:

1. Pre-onboarding goal: making a strong first impression

2. Onboarding goal: setting them up for success

3. First-month goal: engage employees for the long run

4. Six-month goal: continuously checking in to ensure they’re on the right path to success

No matter the industry you’re in, having an optimized onboarding process in place helps retain top talent. And reaps long-term rewards like increased employee engagement, higher productivity and a decrease in turnover.

For a detailed breakdown of each stage, including best practices, learn the essential ways to improve employee onboarding.


2. Offer in-house mentorship (and DO make it personal!)

If there’s anything the pandemic has given employees, it is perspective on what they truly value in a job.

A recent study conducted by Monster, reveals how 95% of employees are considering changing jobs with one of the top reasons being: a lack of growth and opportunity.

With 86% feeling like their job “stalled” during the pandemic, it comes as no surprise that employees are looking elsewhere to find meaningful job opportunities.

With opportunity-driven Millennials and Gen Z making up over 45% of the workforce, it’s in your best interest to prioritize in-house training and mentorship opportunities to retain your top talent.

When it comes to professional growth, the more personal, the better.

Here at Evolia, we offer senior employees the opportunity to mentor new hires. Working directly with a new hire allows for a more personalized approach and gives senior employees a sense of purpose and drive.

Not to mention, it gives them the opportunity to bond and share suggestions outside of work like where to park and find the best restaurants for a quick bite.

With an increasing demand for new skill sets to match evolving job roles, investing in your employee’s education helps retain your top talents when competition is high.

A commitment to their personal growth is viewed as an investment to their worth and a powerful incentive to stay at your company.

3. Care about employees on an individual level

There’s a difference between caring for your employees as a means to an end (productivity) and caring about them on an individual level.

Aim for the latter, not the former. Employees can see through feigned interest.

In a recent workforce study, 51% of employees cited “lacking a sense of belonging at work” as one of the top reasons for leaving their job.

Taking a personal interest in your employee’s life outside of work increases their sense of belonging and belief that you care about them on a personal level.

So go ahead, ask them how their passion project or fitness side hustle is doing. Or better yet, add their birthday on your calendar to send them a greeting on their special date to make them feel valued.

“Rather than worrying that such personal interests might distract from work efforts, smart managers realize that by taking an interest in the whole employee, you ensure that they bring that same creativity and energy to their day jobs.”- Harvard Business Review

As for checking in? Asking them how they’re doing during annual evaluations isn’t going to cut it. Weekly check-ins go a long way in building that connection with your employees.

At the end of the day, employees want to work for managers who consider them as partners in creating value at your company. In order to retain top talent, be less data-focused and more human-centric.

4. Consider a smart scheduling tool to encourage communication between your employees

They say “communication is key” and for good reason.

Creating an open dialogue between employees and having them feel comfortable voicing their needs is essential for them to feel valued and motivated. Which are two key factors to retain top talent.

As much as communication may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a smart scheduling tool, it’s actually the core driver behind it. After speaking to several clients in various industries, we’ve discovered that employees aren’t always comfortable voicing their needs.

Whether it be having to call in sick at the last minute, leaving work early to witness the birth of their child or simply taking a personal day for mental health reasons, they’re shy to ask for it in person because they don’t want to be viewed as a burden to their teammates. Or have others “pick up the slack”, when in reality, it’s anything but. It’s simply life happening.

Using a smart scheduling tool gives employees access to chat with managers and their employees. That way, if anything comes up, like feeling sick in the middle of the night, it gives an employee the opportunity to make replacement requests directly on the app and see who’s available to fill in a shift.

Since employees receive a notification directly on their phones for it, they won’t feel stressed out for waiting until the morning to call in sick.

Additionally, since smart scheduling allows employees to view one another’s schedules, we’ve had clients tell us it’s encouraged employee carpooling as well. Which is another way of strengthening employees’ bonds and increasing engagement in the long haul.

Higher engagement = more retention.

5. Have a strategy in place for matching (or not) a requested salary from a competitor

We’re living in the age of the employer’s market.

Where employees are more selective in who they work for, making it a challenging time for employers to find qualified workers.

On top of that, many companies are trying to recruit your top talent right under your nose. Instead of being surprised by this, be prepared for it by having a strategy in place to retain top talent.

Having a policy in place to ensure your business meets profitability is the first step. After all, there’s nothing worse than being caught off guard by an employee trying to negotiate a raise after receiving an offer from a competitor.

During these situations, you need to consider whether onboarding a new employee would be more costly than retaining your current one by increasing their pay. Instead of focusing on the past, stay grounded and keep it strictly business by putting your emotions aside.

Ask yourself: Are their skillsets valuable enough for retaining them?

Remember: It’s perfectly normal for an employee to ask for a pay increase. This doesn’t mean you have to agree every time. Each situation must be carefully assessed and independently dealt with.

Lastly, you need to consider that an employee might come back in a few months with a higher offer. What would you do then?

As a manager, it’s important to be mindful of the value your employees bring to the team. If they’re the only ones capable of performing their job at the quality they do, then matching their salary would be a viable option if it’s financially feasible.

Otherwise, learning how and when to draw the line by letting them go is necessary at times. It’s a delicate balance but one you can achieve with a strategy in place.


Retention is a long-term strategy, one that requires you to adapt and adjust accordingly.

At the end of the day, employees have three basic needs: feeling valued, having opportunities for personal and professional growth and feeling secure (competitive salary and/or flexibility).

 Meeting all these needs doesn’t have to happen all at once, but should be part of your long-term strategy for retaining your top employees.

The tips listed above are a great starting point to putting it into practice! See how Evolia can streamline your HR operations, book a demo today.

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