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The Great Resignation: How to Avoid Losing Your Best Staff

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There has been lots of press coverage in recent months about what has been termed ‘the Great Resignation’. This is an ongoing trend in which we are seeing significant numbers of individuals resigning from their current jobs in favour of something new. According to a HR Director survey “almost a third (29%) of UK workers are considering moving to a new job this year”.

Data published by leading thinkers suggests that many individuals that had planned on leaving their jobs pre-pandemic but decided to hold off due to the instability caused by COVID-19, are now resuming their job searches. In addition, many of those weren’t planning a move before 2020 have re-evaluated their situation over the past two years and are now looking for something new.

Whether it’s the endless video calls many of us have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, pay and conditions or just that team members are feeling fed up of being unsupported, overloaded, and overlooked by their employers, the problem shows no signs of going away anytime soon.

So, why does it matter?

It might sound obvious, but losing staff is a seriously expensive mistake to be making, especially when those employees are leaving you and heading off to work for one of your competitors. Notable costs include:

o   Recruitment Fees - Hiring a recruitment agency and paying their fees is perhaps the most obvious cost of replacing staff. With agencies charging an average of between 15-30% of salary, this cost is not insignificant. 

o   Time Spent Recruiting & Interviewing - one cost that is often overlooked by companies is the loss of business opportunity caused by the recruitment process. Lost hours spent by managers and senior staff in terms of reviewing CVs and attending interviews can seriously impact productivity within the affected departments. 

o   Loss of Skills & Knowledge: Another key cost to recruitment is the loss of skills that occurs when an employee leaves a business. Experienced team members often have specialist knowledge and, in some cases, may have developed strong relationships with customers so their loss can have a big impact on your business.

o   Costs to Morale & Engagement: High staff turnover can also have a significant impact on those employees who remain. This can lead to further resignations, increased pressure on existing teams and a spiral of disengagement.

So, what can you do to prevent this from happening?

With new talent being harder to secure, it is more important than ever that your company takes active steps to motivate and retain your team members.

Consider Offering a Hybrid Work Model

Flexible working is not a new concept. However, during the pandemic, many companies across the UK were forced to close their offices and to take additional steps to enable teams to work from home.

A key trend that has been observed in recent months is the desire by team members to be given a say in how, when and where they work. According to Deloitte, 7.5 million workers are keen to permanently work from home every day of the week. Whilst others are looking for more of a hybrid arrangement where they can spend time working from home and time in the office with colleagues.

This trend towards hybrid and flexible work is also seen as a big factor in retaining staff. For example, the HR Director reports that “Companies offering hybrid or remote working are less likely to be affected by resignations, with almost 1 in 3 (28%) workers admitting that flexible working policies are encouraging them to stay in their current job.” 

Whilst working from home isn’t necessarily for everyone, many team members have appreciated the flexibility they have enjoyed during the pandemic and found that working from home has real benefits such as offering a better work life balance and less time commuting. In addition, companies that are open to hiring remote team members have increased the talent pools that are available to them, allowing them to hire some great individuals in places they may not have considered in the past.

Hybrid working is all about offering your employees flexibility and freedom, giving your teams the opportunity to decide where and when they work. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to lose control altogether. Think about the work your team need to do and engage with them to agree arrangements that work for your company, your customers and the individuals in question. By providing clear guidance and setting boundaries, you can ensure that you get the most from your teams.

Focus on Well-being to Avoid Burnout

When employees are suffering from work-related stress the knock-on result is typically lower productivity, lost workdays, and a higher turnover of staff. As a result of the pressure faced by many during the pandemic, burnout has become a key topic of discussion in recent months. According to Microsoft:

o   High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce, with 54% of survey respondents saying they feel overworked and 39% saying they feel exhausted.

o   The digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially, with the average Microsoft Teams user is sending 42% more chats after hours and 50% of responding to Teams chats within five minutes or less.

With concerns around burnout growing, high performing businesses are starting to place a greater focus on well-being and mental health initiatives to support their team members. For example, a Deloitte survey of over 1,200 UK workers showed that “52% of UK workers think that wellbeing has become more of a priority for their employer since lockdown”.

If you think your team may be struggling with stress and burnout then set aside time to listen to your team, understand the challenges they are facing and work with them to find solutions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed yourself then our article ‘How to Reduce Stress & Boost Performance: Advice for Managers Under Pressure’ has some great tips on how to make some simple changes that can have big results.

Create a Sense of Belonging

As highlighted above, many people have loved working from home and want to do more of it, with Microsoft highlighting that “over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue”. However, at the same time, many team members have struggled with isolation and have missed the productivity and social side of office-based work. For example, Microsoft also states that “over 65% are craving more in-person time with their teams”

With this in mind, it is important that employers offer their staff the best of both worlds and take steps create a sense of belonging within your team whether your workforce are home or office based. One way to do this is to create a reason for your team to get together, whether that’s by updating your office spaces to create more room for collaboration or organising a team away day or conference.

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