Don an employer’s hat, and you’ll quickly realize that the Great Resignation or Big Quit of 2021 resembles a war-like situation. You have opposing camps scouting for seasoned and new talent, employees who will willingly “turn coat” for better prospects, and a rise in “adieus”, each of which leaves employers with fewer resources.
Resignations are on the rise — 4.3 million Americans called it quits in August 2021 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As per a September 2021 SHRM report, over 40% of the US workforce have new jobs on their radar. Further, research shows that employee turnover can result in overall costs to the tune of 90-200% of the employee’s salary.
From the employee’s point of view, the Great Resignation is truly “great”. The very fact that workers are ready to call it quits in the face of rising vacancies and on the back of pandemic-related pay cuts means the grass does seem greener on the other side. Yet it isn’t all downhill, experts suggest, and employers can make their companies resilient by identifying the root problems behind employee attrition.
Here are 3 factors fueling the post-Covid employee exodus, and countermeasures you can adopt to keep your talent happy and at home.
Tackle burnout with organizational changes
The year 2020 is considered as the most stressful year in history by many, but by the reports, 2021 could be worse. The Employee Well-Being Report by Glint notes a 9% surge in employee burnout between April and July 2021, a figure that’s 12% up from a year ago. Concurrently, happiness at work fell by ~3%. These are alarming figures, and McKinsey further points out that employee burnout is underreported, partly because burnt-out employees have already left the office.
a. Unplugging and recharging
While there isn’t the faintest doubt that the uncertainty and fear roused by the pandemic has contributed to alarming stress levels, experts suggest the burnout experience may have roots in organizational factors that were askew before 2020. Here are some:
- Demanding workloads
- Lack of time to complete tasks
- Insufficient support from employers
- Unclear career trajectory and stagnation
Reports have it that resignations are highest in the IT and healthcare sectors, and this ties in well with the idea that heavy workloads coupled with less time are fueling burnout. LinkedIn had its team of ~16,000 employees take a weeklong vacation, with paid leave, starting April 5, 2021, and efforts to reduce work-induced stress such as having no-meeting days are paying dividends.
b. Bolstering employee engagement
To ‘listen’ and to ‘engage’ are crucial steps to improving employee retention. In fact, even before Covid-19, surveys showed that up to 76% and 92% of employees would seek other jobs because they didn’t feel valued and because of a lack of empathy, respectively. As per Herzberg’s 2-factor theory, ‘recognition’ is a motivator that spurs employees to perform better. In the same vein, peer relationships and job satisfaction are hygiene factors that must be met if employees are to fulfil their psychological needs.
Employee engagement is essential to retention. Here are some quick ways to boost it:
- Invite feedback
- Communicate regularly
- Increase face time
- Recognize performers
- Organize volunteer events
Make hybrid work a permanent feature
Most employees know hands-on the benefits and limitations of working from home: 10-second commutes versus decreased collaboration, flexible schedules versus the ability to keep work and personal life separate, and so on. What employees want today is the ability to choose.
Money matters in every job market; however, reports indicate that professionals are willing to forego monetary benefits to retain the option to work remotely. A study by GoodHire had 61% of respondents agree that they’d take a pay cut (some even up to 50%) to maintain their remote working status. About 70% would forfeit benefits like health insurance and retirement accounts to work remotely, and 85% would apply to companies that offer the option to work from home.
a. Adopting a hybrid work model
The middle ground, which employers must seek, is a hybrid work model. Offering flexibility in terms of work timings and location, the model has advantages too big to neglect:
- Improves productivity
- Increases job satisfaction
- Maintains company culture
- Enhances mental health
- Provides options for collaboration
- Safeguards relationships
- Keeps employees safe during breakouts of the virus
Meet the soul-searching worker with clear answers
Most employees have spent months if not the entire year evaluating how they work, why they work, where they want to be in 10 years, what their life goals are, and more. Top board members have resigned, citing reasons such as changed life circumstances and perspectives post COVID. The result of all the introspection is a workforce that’s keen to invest in themselves.
a. Extending options for growth
HBR notes that mid-career employees, aged 30 to 45, are the ones driving the spate of resignations. As opposed to young professionals, these are employees who can leverage their experience to seek better career progression. How to invest in their personal development and have them remain in your organization instead? Here are some options:
- Have cross-departmental training programs
- Organize workshops on soft skills
- Reward initiatives and not just results
- Offer opportunities for networking
- Assign a mentor or coach
- Send employees on training programs
- Invest in self-paced learning resources
Investing in employee wellbeing
Employees today are on the lookout for wholesome benefits instead of simple office perks. Free coffee and foosball tables won’t make the cut, but some that will include:
- A shorter work week
- Wellness packages
- A sabbatical
- Mentorship programs
Many employers wrongly assume that money is the main reason employees quit. The truth is many leave for a better job, and today, one that caters to the health and wellness of the workforce is sure to stand out.
Strengthening and consolidating your workforce is essential to a strong post-pandemic recovery. There may be some pent-up resignations that surface in the near future, but paying attention to burnout, flexible work, and career growth is sure to help you turn the tide on the turnover tsunami and transform a deluge into a drizzle.