How to emerge from the Great Resignation with a motivated workforce

The Great Resignation is the informal name associated with the widespread trend of a significant number of workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. While generally used to describe the US workforce, the phenomenon is international, with staff retention and recruitment today presenting challenges for many businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Here, we offer five tips to help businesses manage this trend and emerge stronger in 2022.

Our changing landscape

Is it a realignment of personal priorities, or a consequence of the way some employers treated their staff during the pandemic, or something entirely different? No matter what the driving force is, the Great Resignation is either a fact or a strong likelihood, depending on which set of statistics or surveys you rely on.

So, how to stop it in its tracks, and avoid the painful loss of your best talent, the wrench to company culture, the departure of entrenched knowledge and the huge cost of recruitment and onboarding?

It is now time for businesses to review their staff acquisition programs, employee value propositions and talent retention strategies to ensure that new and existing employees remain loyal to the organisation.

Here are our Top 5 Tips for developing your business around key talent.

1. Offer employees greater flexibility

COVID-19 has transformed workplace flexibility from exceptional to expected in two short years. Having worked from home for extended periods throughout lockdowns, employees now know that remote work is not only possible, but effective and highly convenient. And their managers have discovered, sometimes to their surprise, that productivity has not suffered – quite the reverse, in fact.

Consider offering hybrid work arrangements if you can, to retain talent who would otherwise leave. The flip side is that, when recruiting, you can have access to a much wider talent pool – interstate and overseas – if new recruits are given the opportunity to work entirely remotely. You will, of course, need to give careful consideration to the compliance requirements of different working jurisdictions, employment law obligations and, in some cases, the tax implications of hiring people to work remotely.

2. Give people meaning in their work

The assumption that the pay packet is the main motivating factor for employees has been thrown out of the window by recent studies. According to a 2018 study by BetterUp Labs, 9 out of 10 workers will trade on average 23% of their future earnings for the opportunity to do meaningful work. In another survey, 80% of respondents at a Conference for Women said they would rather have a boss who cared about them finding meaning and success in work than receive a 20% pay increase.

This doesn’t mean that underpaid employees will be happy. Being well paid for doing what you love can only increase motivation.

3. Commit to employee development

Getting access to growth opportunities was a key driver for 47% of all employees looking to change jobs, a recent survey by an employee engagement specialist revealed. This means that it’s worth taking time to understand the individual motivations and ambitions of your employees, and help to identify opportunities within the company to help them to achieve them. Being interested in your staff and their individual goals will make them feel recognised and cared for.

4. Pinpoint why people have left or are likely to leave

Exit interviews and honest, discreet dialogue with current employees may give you an insight into the reasons motivating the desire to move on. They are likely to include:

  • A re-evaluation of life priorities in the face of the pandemic
  • High levels of pandemic-induced burnout
  • Women temporarily or permanently exiting the workforce as a result of increased caregiving responsibilities
  • A realisation that a long commute is no longer unavoidable, thanks to remote working options offered elsewhere.

Tailor your company strategy based on your actual results from interviews and surveys. You might, for example, help employees suffering from burnout by encouraging them to take annual or long service leave prior to a re-assessment of their workload. Flexible start and finish times, a hybrid/remote working solution or the offer of part-time work may help to retain the long commuters and the caregivers.

5. Keep communicating with your staff

It’s already been established that employees who understand the company’s larger purpose, are given trust and responsibility, and are able to use their strengths and be part of a team, will usually find their work more meaningful, and themselves more motivated. But they are unlikely to understand the organisation’s vision unless it is clearly communicated to them.

So, aim to be transparent with your staff, and make them feel part of the journey that your company is taking. Keep them updated about strategy and future plans, as far as is consistent with confidentiality. Strive to be honest, and focus on their potential to contribute to and benefit from the organisation’s prospects.

Convert the Great Resignation into the Remarkable Retention

Understanding the possible reasons for a significant workforce exodus, and counteracting them with flexibility, meaningful endeavours, employee development opportunities and diligent communication, can go a long way towards reversing current resignation trends. Make a resolution to ensure that your retention rate goes up, not down, next year.

Bentleys is ready to help

Need some guidance in devising a talent retention program? Bentleys’ HR advisory team has experts in this field. Contact us to explore opportunities for your business.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.

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