Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that Americans are leaving their jobs in record numbers. In July 2021, 4 million Americans quit their jobs, only to see another 4.3 million quit in August. Throughout 2021, 1 in 4 employees have left their jobs, a number we could see grow by the year’s end. What is being called the “Great Resignation” raises some important questions for employers about employee retention. Why are employees leaving their jobs and what can companies do to retain talent? This article explores some effective strategies for securing the talent you need, as well as how to retain your existing resources amid a favorable labor market with millions of job openings.

Why are Employees Leaving?

A recent study from the Harvard Business Review found that employees between 30-45 years old are experiencing the greatest increase in resignation rates. In other words, mid-level employees are quitting at higher rates than any other group. There are several things that could be contributing to this increase. First, with the increase in remote work, companies may be hiring fewer entry-level employees. Remote work makes training more burdensome, so inexperienced employees present a higher risk to employers in the current environment. This means there is likely a greater demand for mid-level employees, so these employees have increased leverage to secure new positions for higher salaries or better benefits. It’s also possible that mid-level employees who avoided making any job changes during the earlier stages of the pandemic felt more comfortable this year, boosting resignation rates among this demographic. Finally, many mid-level employees experienced high workloads during the pandemic, meaning burnout could also be contributing to the mass exodus of these employees.

By contrast, while younger employees typically have the highest turnover, resignations in the 20-25 age range actually decreased over the last year. This is likely because there has been less demand for entry-level workers since remote work environments typically require more experienced workers who need minimal supervision. Further, younger employees usually have greater financial uncertainty, meaning they are less likely to leave their jobs during a pandemic.

Overall, resignation rates have not only been affected by age group, but also by industry. The Harvard Business Review study found that resignations have been heavily concentrated in two areas: healthcare and IT. In fact, in the tech space, resignations have increased by 4.5 percent. For many of ILBSG’s clients, these statistics may have a direct impact. Mid-level IT employees are more likely to leave their jobs and an unusually favorable job market with millions of job openings could make it difficult to retain the important talent your business needs to succeed.

Strategies for Retaining Existing Talent

More than ever, companies will need to be proactive about retaining existing talent. In the immigration context, there are a couple of strategies we recommend to ensure your employees aren’t tempted to move on to new opportunities.

First, with remote work options available for most IT positions, employees may want to move to a different state. This could be based on wanting to be closer to family or simply wanting to live somewhere with a lower cost of living. Regardless of the reason, we have seen this happen at increased rates over the last year. For H-1B employees, a work location change requires an H-1B amendment and updated LCA, so there are some additional considerations to bear in mind if your employees are relocating.

If your employee is moving to a state with a lower prevailing wage than their existing location, it can be tempting to adjust their salary accordingly. However, ILBSG strongly advises its clients to maintain the current salary for that employee. The reason is twofold: first, you may raise a red flag with USCIS and/or the DOL if you lower a foreign worker’s salary, particularly since you are obligated to pay the prevailing wage or actual wage, whichever is higher. If you have already been paying a higher salary for that employee for the same position and project, then that salary has become the actual wage for the position at your company. Second, if your employee is looking to move in order to enjoy a lower cost of living based on their existing salary, cutting their wages may push them to find another employer willing to maintain their current rate of pay or pay them even more. Particularly for experienced, mid-level employees, there are ample opportunities to find a new position or higher paying job. While it is understandable for a company to want to cut costs where possible, retaining talent means keeping salaries competitive.

Next, employees are motivated by the opportunity for long-term growth and career stability. If you have a foreign worker employed on a nonimmigrant work visa who you wish to retain long term, consider sponsoring them for a green card earlier than later. In general, employees are likely to leave their existing positions for higher salaries. But foreign workers are also motivated by their immigration status, so this is an important benefit to consider. If another employer will sponsor them, they are more likely to leave. If you have already invested years in an employee, take the necessary steps to retain them long-term.

Finally, be mindful of burnout and high workloads. If your employee has worked increased hours over the last two years, consider offering additional paid time off or mental health days. The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. Especially for employees working from home with children or navigating homeschool, some extra time off can go a long way.

Strategies for Securing New Talent

Across the board, the U.S. is experiencing labor shortages. Since the IT industry has been especially impacted, employers should plan ahead in order to fulfill their staffing needs. The next H-1B cap will occur in March 2022. As in the years past, there will be a 3-week registration period immediately followed by a selection period. A recent court decision has ensured that the next H-1B cap will again be a lottery, which is good news for our clients. Employers who rely on H-1B visas to fill their staffing needs should strategize early to take advantage of the next lottery, particularly since the future of the program is uncertain and a wage-based system could be coming.

In 2021, ILBSG has experienced extremely favorable conditions for the H-1B program. In the wake of the ITServe lawsuit, denial rates have plummeted to almost zero. While filing an H-1B petition used to almost guarantee a Request for Further Evidence (RFE), that is no longer the case. In fact, ILBSG has not received a work itinerary-related RFE in 18 months and many petitions are approved directly, without any RFE at all. Looking at a random sampling of 100 cases filed by ILBSG in the FY 2022 Cap, 75% received a straight approval, with the remaining 25% approved after an RFE. Simply put, the data support our advice. The H-1B program is extremely favorable at the moment, so we urge our clients to take full advantage.

Finally, with the recent news that the nonimmigrant visa bans will be lifted on November 8, employment-based immigration will no longer be restricted. As long as those traveling to the U.S. have received a full Covid-19 vaccination, nonimmigrant work visas can once again be issued by the U.S. consulates. This will also help alleviate some of the difficulties employers have faced over the last year in bringing much-needed talent to the U.S.

If you need help planning for the upcoming H-1B lottery or advice for how to ensure your immigration staffing needs are met, please reach out to an ILBSG attorney today. We will help you get the right advice.

Originally published here!

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