Employee Retention: ‘The Great Resignation’

‘The Great Resignation’ is a recent phrase that has become inescapable in recruitment jargon and LinkedIn generally. Frequently featuring amongst viral posts and debates on the platform, it denotes a widely felt discontent, and in some cases resentment, many have felt as we approach the end of the pandemic.

Resignations have been highest in the tech and healthcare industries. Two fields that have experienced enormous pressure and rising demand. Not only has this demand created record-breaking job openings in these sectors, but it has also meant more is expected of existing, or remaining, employees.

The result is the concoction of the perfect conditions for career moves that promise better salaries or better life-work balance. When three out of four full-time employees are thinking of leaving their job currently , employers must ask themselves: how will they retain their workforce in the face of rising resignation?

Invest in your employees’ development
One of the things the pandemic brought was a renewed appreciation for the brevity of life and for how one’s time is spent. The fear of stagnation and of wasted potential is very real and very pervasive. The offer of educational and training opportunities is an acknowledgement of a person’s current and potential value. Training that helps flex new skills and that encourages personal growth is one way to address these anxieties, and one way to ensure your employees feel seen and appreciated as individuals with needs and aspirations.

Identify causes of discontent
In larger organisations, this may require widespread aggregation of data, perhaps through the distribution of questionnaires that highlight the most immediate problems and solutions. In smaller companies, this may involve creating spaces for employees to opine on what is working and what isn’t, whether that be through group meetings or private conversations.

The MIT Sloan Management review found that a ‘toxic corporate culture’ is 10.4 times more likely to lead to employee resignation than compensation. A broad term and one that can encompass many problems experienced in the workplace, a toxic work culture is usually created, or at the very least buttressed, by an environment that discourages open discussion. The only way to find out if there are problems to fix, is to create the space for honest dialogue without fear of retribution.

Offer flexible working

And do it well. This does not stop at offering the option to occasionally work from home. Create opportunities to discuss the challenges of working from home, as well as ways to improve productivity. Encourage your employees to uncover which work is best done at home and which benefits from the immediacy of other co-workers at the office. Be transparent about working hours and expectations surrounding connectivity and responsiveness.
For so many, the past two years have challenged them with the task of learning how to work from home. How to balance interspersing house chores with work responsibilities. How to divide and share space with cohabitants. How to unmute oneself before speaking on a video call. To overcome these challenges took an adaptability, devotion, and resilience that should be celebrated by employers.

Which leads this article to its last point…

Reward employees

These are trying times for everyone. A global pandemic has led to the reported deaths of almost 6 million people worldwide , climate change continues to threaten our planet, and a violent war is currently being fought in Ukraine. What has emerged is that no one seems to have a clear course of action for any of these problems. In this state of uncertainty and anxiety, burnout is almost inevitable.

Rewarding employees and encouraging wellbeing is not just the right thing to do, it is also financially viable. Research by Deloitte found that for every £1 spent on employee mental health interventions, employers make £5 in reduced absenteeism and staff turnover. Offering flexible working, whether that be with regards to schedule or location, giving staff breaks, and praising great performance are great motivators, as well as ways to boost loyalty.

In sum…

The solution to the problem of widespread resignation is going to require innovation, better communication, and mutual trust. Listening to your workforce will garner you their goodwill and motivation. Having trust that their opinion matters will guarantee creativity and a level of openness that enables them, as well as the business itself, to flourish.

1. https://www.joblist.com/jobs-reports/2022-trends-united-states-job-market-report
2. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/toxic-culture-is-driving-the-great-resignation/
3. https://covid19.who.int
4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/sep/03/stress-test-burnout-breaks-staff-recover-pandemic