In times of permacrisis, what should B2B firms do to retain their employees

In the era of a tough economy and stiff competition, what do B2B companies need to look out for if they want to stay afloat in terms of their workforces


As the world grapples with the fallout from the recent economic crises, the global recession, and the failures of banks in 2023, numerous businesses have found themselves in a difficult position. Many businesses including the top conglomerates have been forced to restructure, downsize, or even close entirely, leaving their employees concerned about their futures.

With so much change in the work culture, employee mindsets regarding their relationships with work have evolved and changed. Surveys by prominent job portals over the last few months illustrate this fact quite clearly.

When 2023 started, predicted that a whopping 96 per cent of workers are looking for new roles this year, the reasons largely being pay growth and job growth. However, cut to four months later and Monster’s recent hiring report states that job growth has fallen, and is showing signs of a further slowdown.

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“Growth slowed in industries like leisure and hospitality and healthcare, while hiring came to a halt in retail trade and warehousing and storage. Over the past month, layoffs increased by 15 per cent, or 396 per cent compared to this time last year,” it reads.

Whereas Indeed’s quarterly hiring tracker reveals that 47 per cent of Indian job seekers are not looking to switch jobs in 2023. A majority of employees are choosing to stay in their current organisations. More than 37 per cent of all job seekers are looking to prioritise their career growth in 2023. 

Sashi Kumar, Head of Sales, Indeed India, feels that the overall sentiment of job seekers and employers seems to be cautious. “Additionally, in 2023, the acceptance of the gig economy at large is also expected to strengthen the job market. Employers now need to focus on devising ways in which they can retain and continue to attract this talent pool,” he says.

Retaining employees is not easy

“In the past, employees stayed with one company for the entire course of their careers. Today, that’s not the case. Nowadays, employees often change jobs, and retaining them is challenging for companies,” comments Daya Prakash, Founder, TalentOnLease.

In fact, we do have statistics that demonstrate why employees quit.

Quiet quitting to quick quitting is the new motto nowadays and work trends have changed a lot.

Also, in the B2B sector, talent shortages are among the most pressing issues.

A Deloitte study reveals that 45 per cent of the respondents feel that talent shortages were a significant challenge for their companies. These three points explain why employee retention is vital for a B2B company’s growth

Retaining an existing employee costs less than hiring a new one.

Existing and experienced employees can significantly contribute to the team and the business as they understand the organisation inside out.

It strengthens the company’s brand and culture.

Discussing the same, Partha Neog, CEO & Co-Founder of Vantage Circle asserts that employee turnover is an expensive and time-consuming affair for businesses. “It can take several months to fill a vacancy and during that time, productivity can suffer. Additionally, the cost of recruitment, training, and onboarding new employees can be high. By retaining employees, businesses can reduce these costs and maintain productivity,” he points out.

Can motivating employees work?

One way to address employee retention is to invest in talent distribution. “It’s a tough economy, and competition is fierce in every aspect of B2B. Therefore, SMEs need to keep an eye on talent if an enterprise is to stay afloat,” says Prakash.

Another factor that can be a game changer for a B2B firm is employee motivation and many experts in the HR arena vouch for it.

A company’s employees’ beliefs, attitudes, and actions shape its corporate culture, which is critical to recruiting and keeping the right individuals. When an employee departs, the others start wondering about why they left, which might prompt them to doubt their own dedication to the firm. “The key to employee retention and motivation is a work environment where workers are not treated like machines. They must have a good work-life balance,” he further points out.

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The backbone of motivation is a positive environment, according to the experts.

A positive work culture entails ethical practices, workplace diversity, clear communication, teamwork, and respect for individual differences.

How should that be done? “People are naturally drawn to environments where they feel more appreciated, respected, and recognised. Providing employees with the assistance that they require or bolstering their morale by recognising their efforts is an excellent way of enhancing their job satisfaction,” Prakash asserts.

Neog of Vantage Circle also weighs in, saying, “Vantage Circle motivates its employees by offering opportunities for learning and development, recognition and rewards, promoting a work-life balance, creating a positive work environment, and providing comprehensive employee benefit packages. These strategies of ours help our employees to feel engaged, motivated, and committed to their work.”

Navneet Singh, Founder and CEO of AVSAR, an HR service provider lists the benefits of motivated employees.

First, motivated workers are more engaged and committed to their tasks, which raises output. Additionally, motivated workers are more likely to go above and beyond their call of duty, showing initiative and being proactive in spotting and resolving issues.

Second, motivation increases employee happiness and lowers turnover rates, which improves the workplace climate and team spirit. Because experienced employees are already familiar with the company’s processes and procedures, keeping them on board can result in increased output, he tells us.

“Third, motivated employees are more likely to have a sense of pride and ownership in their work, which fosters a greater dedication in them towards achieving their goals. Finally, employee motivation may increase creativity and innovation, resulting in the development of new concepts and solutions that can improve productivity and efficiency,” he further adds.


Workplace rituals for a happy workplace

Love them or hate them, companies around the globe are increasingly adopting workplace rituals.

Rituals can increase employees’ sense of meaning at work. In essence, rituals are repeated acts and customs.

Workplace rituals might include everything from daily team meetings to yearly company-wide gatherings. “They promote communication and cooperation among workers, lessen stress and burnout, and boost creativity and innovation. They can also help employees to feel a sense of belonging and community,” elaborates Singh of AVSAR.

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In the workplace, rituals are often grouped with other elements that contribute to the overall company culture. Rituals facilitate connectivity. Research has shown that workers who believe their jobs are meaningful are more motivated, happier, and more productive, according to Prakash.

“I would start up a ritual that focuses on mindfulness and gratitude. With that combination, you’ll have good results. The sentiment will be genuine; it won’t feel forced. For instance, I suggest weekly meetings where each person will take a few minutes to list something that they feel grateful for or have accomplished during the week. Having a broader purpose and recognising that there is more to life can lead to better things. True rituals are built around that foundation,” he says.

Neog talks about how his company does it. “The senior officials of every team regularly conduct ‘scrums’ or morning meetings as a team-building activity to help each team member to perform better, to develop their skills, and to ensure work transparency,” he explains.

According to him, company rituals are important for maintaining a healthy and productive workplace. “It prioritises an employee’s mental health by offering assistance programs and counselling services to help manage their stress and anxiety. This approach helps employees feel supported and valued, which in turn, leads to higher levels of engagement and productivity,” he asserts.

While as per Singh’s opinion, workplace rituals are an important element for increasing employee retention by fostering a climate of predictability and consistency. “Standing meetings, team-building exercises, progress reports, and milestone celebrations are a few examples of workplace rituals. Physical locations like a specific break room or a wall of employee pictures can also be a part of them,” adds in Singh.

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Today’s job seekers are living in an era of permacrisis. They are all searching for a flexible, meaningful, hopeful, and positive work environment. Ultimately, it can be said that a workplace where employees feel inspired, is the most likely to motivate them to put forth their best efforts, leading to increased productivity and a successful and profitable enterprise.

A few factors that B2B companies need to embed into their work cultures are –a positive work culture, good company values, and a motivational environment coupled with affirmative workplace rituals. As it is more than likely that future job seekers will evaluate potential employers based on these very same values!