“The Great Resignation” is a movement that has shifted the balance of power back to employees, who are expressing a desire for something other than the psychological contract of employment. How can organizations respond in a way that demonstrates that they are an employer where people not only want to work but also give their all? The term The Great Resignation was first used in the United States to describe the employment trend caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically among the food service, retail, and hospitality industries, which were particularly hard hit during the lockdown, but it has since spread to other industries and around the world.
What Employers can do?
As employers, if you’re trying to retain your best people and keep the organization attractive in the face of a shifting pattern of employee-employer relationships, some key areas to assess in terms of talent would be:
Flexibility is Key – Working remotely has been a lonely experience for many people. They discovered that without the in-person, day-to-day social connections of seeing teammates and coworkers in person, they’ve lost interest in their actual job.
Working on a 13-inch monitor all day is a challenge for those who thrive on human interaction and water-cooler conversations. It’s been enough of an incentive for employees to decide that they just want something other than the number of virtual meetings to measure their days.
On the other hand, many people have recognized the cost-saving benefits of remote working. They’ve saved time and money by not commuting, and they’ve gained more flexibility and control over where and when they do their best work.
When considering talent retention, keep in mind that employees value choice and flexibility. Many people who have demonstrated their ability to work successfully remotely will resist being forced to return to an office. Consider your approach carefully. One size definitely does not fit all in this case.
Understanding your Employees – What the pandemic has taught us, is that employees are, first and foremost is that of its people. Employees in today’s modern market want to be seen as individuals, with wellness, balance, and lives outside of work being important components of that. Employees today want to know that their work has meaning, that they are making a difference, and that they can see how their contributions contribute to the greater good. Be clear on your organization’s purpose, and consider activities that will assist each employee in determining their own personal “why?”
Identify the Data – For many of us, 2020 will go down as one of the most memorable years in history. In terms of economics, employment, and the implications for the future of work, this is undeniably true. It’s easy to forget some of the pandemic’s earliest memories as time passes. That was back when everything was up in the air. The entire world was put on lockdown, and things were anything but normal.
Employers should compare resignation rates to pre-pandemic exit rates to provide a more consistent baseline against which to measure. Many employees’ resignation letters do not reflect short-term decisions. They may have considered leaving their current employer for some time, but coronavirus put a stop to their plans. Employees may now be acting on decisions that they were forced to postpone in 2020 and much of 2021 as lockdowns ease and we become acclimated to the current phase of the pandemic.
People approaching retirement age are deciding to leave work earlier than planned, owing to the pandemic’s impact on many people’s perceptions of the precarious nature of life and health. Employees who value freedom are benefiting from the fact that they are no longer tied to a single location in the form of an office. They may choose to pursue other goals, such as improved work-life balance, flexible childcare arrangements, or the ability to work remotely.
Employees should be Listened to and then Acted Upon – Understanding how your employees feel about their jobs is critical to keeping your employee turnover under control. It is critical to have channels open that provide you with information about your people. Consider the following questions:
- How well do you understand what your employees about what do they think is valuable think and how they feel about your organization as a place of work?
- Even if you have systems in place to assess this, how do you know employees feel safe enough to share?
- How do you foster psychological safety in teams so that people can be open and honest with one another?
- Do your senior leaders have to hear from individual contributors, who frequently have valuable information about the customer experience and plenty of ideas about how things could be improved?
Understanding each of these questions is important so that organisations truly understand your employee experience.
How can employers respond to the Great Resignation?
Many people are exhausted and on the verge of burnout after more than 2 years of adjusting to new ways of working, increased work-loads due to the changing nature of work, and struggles with switching off due to the availability of technology at our fingertips.
Here are some strategies that employers can use to support their teams in the face of a changing work environment.
- Review Employee Benefits – It’s also a good time to assess your benefits and ensure they’re competitive in today’s talent market. This aspect of fairness is especially important in areas of your workplace where equal pay may not currently exist.
- Give Staff Time Off – Consider giving employees some time off with an invitation to disconnect for their mental and emotional health. These initiatives could range from taking a few days off to taking a week off. If that isn’t possible, consider scheduling regular meetings and email-free days. This allows people to take a step back and think more clearly in the absence of messages, online meetings, and notifications.
- Support Internal Staff – All Staff and in particular managers, are feeling the effects of staffing fluctuations. Many have been tasked with providing emotional support to employees throughout the pandemic, and now must return their teams to full capacity.
Because recruiting is a time-consuming process, you may want to gather a small group to review your recruitment process before proceeding. Consider how it could be improved for the people involved, including the recruiting team, line managers, and candidates. Keep in mind that hiring is often an activity that many managers do not have to do very often, so they may require additional assistance in the hiring process.
- Think Positive – Even though high turnover is costly, in the end, you only want people working in your company who want to be there. Many people were probably thinking about changing jobs before the pandemic. The last year and a half may have simply solidified their decision, providing them with the impetus they needed to make a change.
One thing is certain from recent times, no one knows how the pandemic-induced trends and movements will play out. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, these suggestions and considerations can assist organizations in adapting to changes in the overall relationship of modern work.
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