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COVID-19 and career setbacks: Top tips for retaining staff in 2021

Robert Half research found that 38% of workers had experienced career setbacks in the pandemic.

Allie Nawrat

career setbacks
Credit: Nata Bene via Tweny20.

Could COVID-19 push people to start looking for more meaningful jobs? Unleash Your People

  • COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the job market.
  • Research by Robert Half found that over a third of staff said the pandemic had stalled their career.
  • What could this mean for employee retention? And how can companies ensure their staff feel valued?

COVID-19 has caused the highest global unemployment rate in the 21st century.

However, those who remain in their jobs are not entering a post-COVID world completely unscathed. Research by Robert Half found that 38% of professionals said their career had been stalled since the beginning of the pandemic.

Robert Half’s survey of 2,800 US workers found that employees felt stuck because of lack of salary growth (54%), issues with the advancing their career (47%), an inability to grow their professional network in lockdown (47%) and troubles with developing new skills (44%).

These figures become even more concerning for Generation Z – 66% of 18- to 24-year-olds reported career setbacks in the past year.

It is clear that the career stalls are real since 59% of 2,800 senior managers told Robert Half they had postponed promotions because of the pandemic.

[Read more: COVID-19 didn’t dampen job satisfaction – here’s why]

Impact on employee retention

Issues with career setbacks create concerns about employee attrition, which can be incredibly costly for companies.

Of those employees surveyed Robert Half, nearly one third said they were now considering looking for a more meaningful or fulfilling job. While 78% senior managers reported they were concerned about employee retention.

Credit: Robert Half.

As a result of these findings, Robert Half weighs in with some advice for companies who don’t want to lose their staff in the near future.

Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald stated: “As the job market continues to rebound, employers need to be concerned about retention.

“Younger professionals, especially, want to be challenged and may leave if they’re unsatisfied.

“Now is the time for managers to invest in upskilling, review performance goals and develop mentoring programs that benefit all employees.”

Robert Half also suggests a better recognition and reward system, including re-thinking and adjusting salaries regularly.

“Even if your business isn’t able to increase pay right now, consider whether you could provide other forms of compensation, like bonuses, paid time off [or] retirement plans,” noted the report.

A final important option is enabling individuals to have a better work-life balance, including by offering flexible working arrangements and encouraging companies to take holiday and set boundaries at work.

[Read more: How tech can drive employee happiness in the future of work]

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