The Covid-19 pandemic has led to many employees reassessing their priorities. The standard routine of turning up to an office at 9am and leaving at 5pm was blown out of the water in March 2020 as a stay-at-home order was issued by the government, and companies had to quickly adapt to remote working. As Covid-19 restrictions were gradually lifted over the following months and companies began to call employees back into the office, many workers realised that they rather enjoyed the work-life balance afforded to them by home working. What followed was one of the greatest rates of job turnover in recent years – dubbed the Great Resignation.
Initially coined as a term in the US, the Great Resignation has firmly taken hold in the UK, too. According to the ONS, there were a record 1,219,000 job vacancies from September to November 2021; an increase of 434,500 from the pre-pandemic level. 15 of 18 sectors are reporting record vacancy numbers. With such a buoyant job market, workers are increasingly confident that they will be able to find another role upon quitting their current one. So, what is causing the Great Resignation, and what can employers do to retain their staff?
Work From Home, Hybrid Working, and the Work-Life Balance
Almost two years after their first taste of working from home, many employees have firmly made up their minds that remote working, or at least hybrid working, is something that they are not willing to compromise on. According to a study done by Ipsos and cloud communications platform RingCentral, 66% of UK employees would rather continue working from home than return to the office full time, while a quarter would look for a new job if their employer forced them back into the office.
The mitigation for this is simple: offer your staff at least some remote working. According to Blue Octopus research, in the last quarter of 2021 job adverts offering at least some home working were almost twice as likely to be successfully filled, when compared to job adverts which were purely office-based. They also received more applicants, on average.
Flexibility and Working Hours
Related to the change in work-life balance brought around by remote and hybrid working, many workers have seen their lives improve through increased flexibility offered by employers. The standard 9-to-5 leaves little room for such essential daily tasks as taking children to and from school and caring for relatives. Many employees, and disproportionately female employees, find that they must either reduce their hours or leave their jobs entirely in order to provide proper care for their children. If companies are flexible with individuals’ working hours and times, more talent can be retained.
Money, Money, Money (but not what you think)
Yes, employees are very unlikely to turn down a pay increase, but salary alone is not necessarily going to help you retain your staff if the other working conditions are not right for them. This is particularly the case for younger workers. According to the CIPD, what is more important to employees is that you enable career development and progression. Offering yearly appraisals and salary reviews keeps employees motivated. Employees are wise to the fact that, despite the economic hit from the pandemic, companies have managed to save significant sums as a result of the transition to remote working. But even then, when a promotion or salary increase is not possible due to business conditions, consider sideways moves that provide the opportunity for workers to gain additional skills and experiences.
It’s an old cliché – albeit an accurate one – that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. A 2015 Gallup poll revealed that a staggering 75% of people had left a job primarily because of their management. That makes it the primary reason an employee quits their company. Above all, the thing most employees care about is how their companies treat them; that they are valued.
But what is the best way to manage your employees? It does of course depend on the individual themselves, but in broad terms, find the balance between absent management and micro-management. Your employees should feel that they are not constantly scrutinised in every aspect of their role, while still being able to approach their manager for support when needed. Give employees constructive criticism, clear objectives and expectations, and lead by example. Managing a team is difficult, but it is vital to so fairly and effectively if you are going to retain your best talent.
So, what do you think? If you are an employer, what have you found has helped to retain top talent? If you are an employee, what would your company have to offer in order to hold on to you? Comment below.
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