Last week Technology Association of Oregon invited its member companies to take a survey about whether they are seeing employee attrition as a result of the pandemic and if they are changing their employee benefits packages to help with employee retention. We had a total of 47 responses from TAO members, the majority of which hold C-level or HR-related roles. Survey respondents work at companies that range in size from one employee to 1000+.
63.8% of respondents stated that their company had not laid off employees at any point during the COVID pandemic.
Interestingly, 68.3% of respondents also stated that their company has seen an increase in employee attrition during the pandemic.
During exit interviews, employees gave a number of reasons for leaving. The two most common reasons were that they could receive better compensation elsewhere and the possibility of professional development opportunities. Work-life balance and better benefits were also cited by a number of employees. Additional reasons include the guaranteed ability to work fully remote in the future, experiencing burnout or feeling like it was time for a transition, looking for a better workplace environment, and feeling like there was a lack of clarity around processes or lagging strategy at the company they were leaving.
55.3% of survey respondents indicated that they have changed or are planning to change their company’s employee benefits package in 2021 as a means to help with employee retention.
There were many different responses regarding the ways that companies are changing their benefits packages to make them more attractive. They included:
- More PTO and enhanced employee leave policies, including paid sabbaticals
- Better health benefits including trans-inclusive benefits, mental health services, and Health Savings Accounts
- Employee wellness resources, including virtual wellness benefits and a Mental Health Alliance Employee Resource Group
- WFH benefits like paying for lunch once a month, home office stipends, and paying for equipment
- Childcare subsidy
- Paid family leave
- Learning and development stipend
- Increasing pay ranges for all roles
- Remote-first work environment, guaranteed full-time remote work, or “work where you work best” stance
- Half-day Fridays
- 401K with matching
- Employee stock plan
- Clarity around the promotion process
Here are some additional insights from the survey respondents:
“Our biggest challenge is compensation. Bay Area companies that pay Bay Area wages for people living in Portland are tough to compete with. As a result, they are taking our talent. Being 100% remote has changed the talent game for sure.”
“We only just started seeing attrition in May of this year, about 1 person per month so far. Trying all sorts of things to retain talent. We are having a hard time recruiting.”
“We don’t expect the composition of our benefits programs to change. We’re looking at ways to improve our mental health offerings, but a lot of what we think we need to work on isn’t “benefits” as much as it is employee experience and work practices.”
“We have had incredible applicant pools for other last three open positions, so although we did lose some people we were able to fill the roles quickly with great people.”
“We’re worried a bit about how people will reevaluate their options once the world gets put back together a bit. Basically, planning for the worst and hoping for the best. Our benefits package and pay are extremely competitive (especially for Portland) and I’ve had very few conversations about pay or benefits being a reason people are staying/leaving. I discuss culture and a healthy work/life balance, instead, so we can all go to be at night and sleep well. So far, my stay interviews have been positive with relatively low churn.”
“I think the benefits employees most appreciate in this pandemic are flexibility and being listened to sincerely with an open mind. Emotional support seems to be more highly valued than anything we can offer through benefits or compensation.”
“We’re focusing on learning & development and career progression tracks to make sure our employees feel they have career security by choosing to stay with us.”
“Covid has provided a necessary wake-up call—I had covid last year and it took me months to recover. I was left with serious side effects, and there’s nothing like grinding away at a job that could be satisfying but isn’t, with an employer who could offer more but doesn’t, realizing any of us could be dead before the end of the year. The crazy thing is that in this environment, employees are now able to ask for what they are worth.”
“The uncertainty around returning to office and remote work in the future is a factor. In addition, many employees have lost the personal connection to people, which is an important element in a strong culture to promote retention.”
“Employees who have voluntarily left the company in the past 6 months have left for significantly higher salaries.”