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5 Questions with Jaclyn Chen: Stemming the Great Resignation Tide

Leadership insights into how building a flexible workplace environment can help to retain high performing talent.

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However you choose to label it, after two years of workplace pandemic-related disruption and transformation, workers continue to quit in record numbers to find a job better matched to their values and needs. This puts many company leaders in unchartered territory: a tight labor market.

One solution is increased cash and equity compensation, but if that were the only piece of the puzzle, we wouldn’t still be having this conversation. Flexibility and more meaningful and useful benefits are key to solving the mass resignation, according to Benepass CEO and Co-Founder Jaclyn Chen.

We sat down with Jaclyn to dig deeper on specific ways employers can help stem the tide of the great resignation wave.

1. What is the “Great Resignation”?

It’s clear that after nearly two years of workplace disruption we’re at an inflection point. Whatever you choose to call it, employees today are increasingly leaving in order to find a role that better aligns with their values and individual needs. As was the case early on in the pandemic, workers are no longer quitting to sit on the sidelines. Instead, they’re finding roles that better suit them. The data bears this out, but so do personal anecdotes from managers across the country.

2. How has it personally affected you?

We are a growing, early-stage startup and have yet to personally experience a sharp increase in turnover akin to what we hear about from other companies. However, being flexible has been key in retaining high performing employees. For example, we’ve seen several team members relocate and choose where to live based on the needs of their family, not work. I’m excited for them to move closer to family, or try out a place they’ve always wanted to live. We are able to make these accommodations because we are a remote-first company.

3. What are specific strategies for recruitment and retention amidst this transformative time?

Beyond cash and equity incentives, flexibility is one of the most critical factors in retaining talent today. Flexibility on where to work can make a big difference in retaining talent. Consider permanently offering remote, hybrid, or in-office options to empower your employees with a choice about what’s best for them for the long haul.

Flexibility on when to work can also help with retention. For example, continued disruptions to school and childcare mean that working parents might have unexpected personal demands on their time, or blocks of time they may not be available for work. Fostering a culture of flexibility whereby there is a set process for managing flexible schedules across your workforce creates a more inclusive environment.

The pandemic has shown us that work can be flexible, when you make flexibility a core tenet. Flexible benefits that put the employee in the driver’s seat for how to use a company resource designed to meet their individual needs are a better fit for today’s distributed workforce.

In addition to flexibility, growth transparency is key for long-term retention.  A well-defined career path and support from managers on how employees can reach their goals together with targeted skills training helps workers envision a long-term relationship with their company and fosters meaning and purpose in their work.

4. When managing a flexible workplace environment, how do you accommodate specific employee requests?  

Employee feedback is essential to fostering the kind of workplace and environment in which workers want to stay. At our company, we end most team meetings and 1:1s with invitations for feedback. Having an open dialogue with your team is key.

Everyone has basic needs to be healthy and productive, so we don’t view it as an accommodation, but rather a baseline conversation that every manager should be having with their direct reports. You want to set expectations that everyone’s preferences can be heard and will be taken into serious account, but not necessarily that every single request can be approved.

The willingness to be flexible, open-minded, and creative is important. The key question to consider is, “can you effectively do your role and contribute to the company’s objectives?” Almost always, the answer is yes. Sometimes you have to get creative, but in our experience, team members can be even more productive with the peace of mind that their company supports them. And the best talent will stay longer as a result.

5. How do you foster a more meaningful workplace for employees?

Today’s workers want to know their company cares for their overall well-being, both professionally and personally. That starts with understanding the unique needs of your employee and designing processes and programs that can support those needs.

By ensuring that each employee gets benefits that are most meaningful and rewarding to them will go a long way to feeling valued by their employer.

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Rob Marwanga

Head of Marketing

Rob is Head of Marketing at Benepass. He has years of experience in growth marketing for tech companies. He has an MBA from Kellogg and a BA from Dartmouth.

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