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How to prepare for The Great Resignation

October 13th, 2021

The Great Resignation has hit the US and is heading for Australia.

According to Aaron McEwan, Behavioural Scientist from Gartner (a world-leading research and advisory company) four million people in the US have voluntarily quit their jobs in a mass exodus, and 40% of the current workforce are considering resigning. The pandemic has driven people to rethink their careers and the role of work in their lives. 

COVID19 has shaken people up, created fear and stress, and provided complexities at work previously not experienced. People have been facing burnout and, for some, trying to manage kids at home remote learning while working at the same time. They are under more pressure and stress, and less physical safety.

Many employees feel they have dedicated huge amounts of time and effort to their employers during a period of instability in the job market. They feel they have not been properly thanked or recognised for their recent hard work, with some employers placing unrealistic demands on remote workers. 

People are embracing career downsizing – seeking a role that absorbs less extended hours, is less stressful, and requires less responsibility to gain greater balance in other areas of life.

There’s a fundamental shift to how people think about the role of work in their life.

“The movement of talent is so significant and so sharp that it’s different to probably anything we’ve seen in living memory.”

This mass exodus is being witnessed across the world, with 83% of companies noticing signs of higher turnover.

What’s driving the change?

Many people have been re-evaluating their work and their psychological contract with their employer. Consequently, employees are looking to: 

  • Increase purpose-driven work
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce the impacts of burnout
  • Prioritise their health and safety 
  • Be valued, recognised and rewarded
  • Obtain greater flexibility
  • Explore opportunities for career growth.

Through many lenses, this shift can seem inevitable. The pandemic is interrupting many career plans where loyal Australians have been putting their company’s needs before theirs, in an ‘in it together’ approach, to the benefit of the company/employer. Employees have become frustrated with:

  • Lack of career progression inhibiting individual expression with little-to-no input to company decisions, promoting a feeling of isolation
  • Non-competitive salaries
  • Lack of flexibility and empathy from leadership with poor management styles, adding additional stress to an already stressful situation
  • Poor support for the mental health of employees.

“I can imagine that when we hit March of 2022, we will see the Great Resignation in Australia. It will be a movement of talent that I think we are unprepared for.”

What does it mean?

It means that Australian workers will no longer have the willingness to go above and beyond for their employer if employers aren’t providing them with recognition, flexibility and support. 

Simply put, their career plan is back on track. Employees are prioritising themselves. They have spent the best part of two years ruminating on what is important for them, for their work-life balance. Companies will start to notice employees asking for a change in the workplace, or they’ll simply leave, seeking a better lifestyle balance with work.

If companies don’t adapt to the needs of employees, then they will not be chosen as a preferred place to work.  Adding salt to this slowly opening wound is the fact that the talent pool is becoming smaller; travel bans inhibit talent being ‘imported’ from overseas, and even between states. There is a fight for talent, and if changes aren’t made, businesses could be losing out! 

“Companies will have to start selling the work to employees.”  

Aaron McEwan’s advice to employers is to see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to “reconfigure work so that it’s actually designed for this new world that we find ourselves in”.

“The way that we work, particularly in offices, is leftover from the 20th century, arguably the 19th century.” He said companies “need to focus on the needs of their employees and find a way to drive their growth ambitions without overstretching already fatigued staff.”

 Flexibility is now expected rather than being offered as a privilege.

What can you do to retain employees and attract great candidates?

To get ahead and drive employee retention and candidate attraction, here are five things you can do.

1. Build an employee-centric workplace culture, focused on support, empathy and flexibility. 

Employees who feel valued, safe, and supported will be more productive and become strong advocates for your employer brand in attracting candidates in a talent tight market. Regularly check in with employees and genuinely understand how they’re going and offer support. Enable employees to work hours that work for them as well as the customer, rather than rigidly sticking to traditional business hours. Allow people to take time out to go out for exercise during the day or allow time to set their kids up in the morning for a day of remote learning. 

2. Provide support for Mental Health

Offering paid Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), and proactive health and wellbeing programs, including mental health days, support for fitness initiatives, online zoom workout classes that also give people the opportunity to connect with colleagues. Reduce burnout and stress, and help employees feel that employers genuinely care.

3. Provide purpose at work

Provide opportunities to get involved in charities and volunteering. Involve employees in decision making, allowing them to make an impact. Set up an effective Environmental Social Governance (ESG) program, so employees can be part of a purpose-driven business focused on sustainability and making an impact on social issues. 

4. Recognise and celebrate achievements 

Ensure remuneration packages are in line with market rates. Some companies are attracting good candidates by increasing base salaries anywhere from 10% to double pay. Underpaying employees can lead to them feeling undervalued and contribute to high turnover as well as making it difficult to attract new candidates.

5. Provide support for employees to upskill through Learning and Development courses 

Help employees explore opportunities and gain greater fulfilment. Examples include running internal learning and development programs or providing time and funds to access external training providers such as Udemy, Coursera or Linkedin Learning. Provide opportunities for employees to reshape their careers and progress internally within the business.

Be prepared for March 2022, when The Great Resignation is expected to make an impact in Australia. Take the opportunity to review and revamp your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and prepare a new candidate attraction plan, and start building your future talent pipeline.

If you’d like more support and advice on how to prepare for The Great Resignation and position your business to attract the best candidates in the market contact our team

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