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The Great Resignation is showing zero signs of slowing down just yet. In fact, quite the opposite, as the world emerges from behind the veil of the COVID-19 pandemic. Returning to the previous ways of working, largely on-site or office based, appears to be the plan held by a large number of employers.
Yet this plan seems to be at odds with many employees who have decided that a call back to the previous way of working is not something that works well for them.
One of the most recent, high profile examples of return to the office calls being made, have come from Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. Musk’s assertion that remote work is no longer acceptable or considered to be ‘real work’ at the company, was made via an email communication to executives and staffers.
The email’s subject line titled ‘Remote work is no longer acceptable’ outlined Musk’s instruction to staff that ‘anyone wishing to do remote work must be at the office for a minimum of 40 hours a week’.
Elon Musk on remote work
May 31, 2022 pic.twitter.com/gTw1Bdh18h
— Internal Tech Emails (@TechEmails) June 1, 2022
Further to this seemingly provocative statement, came the message to employees, that for those who chose not to follow the demand of showing up to the office, would be viewed as having resigned.
Yet for many other organisations globally, in contrast to the stance made by Tesla, there have been considerable efforts to retain a degree of balance, through the adoption of a far more hybrid approach to working. A combination of at home working or remote based working and office based working.
Hybrid working is no longer a buzzword occasionally used by Human Resources professionals
However despite the efforts by many organisations to compromise and establish a middle ground where people can achieve a greater degree of work-life balance. Employees are continuing to make the decision to leave their roles and traditional employment behind.
So what does this mean for Human Resources? At a time that is already challenging when it comes to securing talent for organisations. What are some of the reasons why people are leaving? And crucially, what can be done to help face the issue head on, incentivising and encouraging talent wherever possible to stay?
Reasons why people are resigning
1️⃣ People have a renewed confidence in searching for a new job
According to CIPD there are employees who had planned on leaving their jobs pre-pandemic but decided to hold off doing so as a result of the disruption and uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
However with these same employees being called back to work and resuming their roles from before. The market has uplifted significantly with opportunities becoming more abundant. Resulting in those same employees now resuming their job searches with renewed enthusiasm and increased focus.
Is the great resignation fact or fiction?
The impact of this, as researched and argued by CIPD, is that the backlog of resignations which have been building up over the past 18 months are now starting to progress through to become actual resignations in real time.
There are fewer people unemployed for each available job now | Source: ONS – VACS01: Vacancies and unemploymentCEO of UK-based Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) Neil Carberry has stated that “The jobs market is improving at the fastest pace we have ever seen, but it is still an unpredictable time.” Research by REC has revealed 63 per cent of UK employers are actively recruiting. Which could be a direct causal link to the significant uptick in employees choosing now as their time to resign. Safe to a degree in the knowledge that demand for talent is on the up.
How to combat?
Employee engagement is key to improving employee retention. The approach that your organisation is taking to engagement will benefit from having a renewed approach, particularly following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The raft of changes that have ushered in, in short succession have resulted in the emotional commitment from your employees to your organisation, being altered and in many ways weakened. Particularly if those changes have had a material impact on quality of life, ways of working and work/life balance.
There are more opportunities to dig into engagement, from employee surveys, to listening groups, to 360 feedback sessions. Yet moving beyond listening to action, responding to the concerns, blocks or challenges being felt by employees will be key.
If the solutions presented by employee’s include hybrid working, home working or increased flexibility. Then it’s vital this feedback is acted upon if attrition and resignation levels are going to be managed and reduced.
2️⃣ Employees have been given the time and space to reflect on the needs and preferences for their personal and professional lives
A poll by recruitment company Hays carried out on LinkedIn, indicated that 74 per cent of respondents had questioned their job and career choices since the pandemic.
This could be translating to employees who weren’t thinking about resigning prior to the pandemic, that could be now. Having had the time, space and capacity to reflect on whether their role and current career path is meeting their expectations or personal goals.
A number of people who have taken the step to resign have recounted how they feel. On reflection, it’s reported that a sensibility of life being too short to remain in roles that are felt to be unfulfilling by doing work that no longer feels purposeful or inspiring.
And whilst the role of Human Resources or management is not to try and convince employees to remain in roles or within organisations they feel they have outgrown or that no longer align with their goals and ambitions. It is vital that HR take the time to understand if there are solutions to counter what could be a knee jerk reaction to the difficult couple of years that the pandemic has brought about.
How to combat?
Options that could prove to be worthy of consideration include providing employees with sabbatical opportunities. This option enables time out of role, typically for a period of up to two years for employees to travel or pursue a project of personal interest. Including furthering education.
Because there is no specific legislation covering sabbaticals, HR has a relatively free rein to set sabbatical policy and the terms of sabbatical agreements
By exploring this option, it allows employees to have the time and space away from their role with a view to progress in personal pursuits. Whilst at the same time, enabling the organisation to retain strong players and top performers who may, understandably thanks to the pandemic, be feeling burnt out and in need of a period of time away.
3️⃣ Employees could be burnt out and the idea of resigning appeals to reset how they’re feeling
Burnout is real and as we know from numerous reports and studies, it’s on the rise across all industry sectors.
Junior members of the workforce, including Generation Z, are facing digital burnout
The combination of this and other factors are adding to the numbers of those choosing to leave the workforce for a temporary or longer term period of time. And 40 per cent of the global workforce, according to a survey by Microsoft, say their companies are asking too much of them and they are contemplating quitting their jobs as a result.
How to combat?
With one in five of employees surveyed by Microsoft reporting they don’t believe their employer cares about their work-life balance, 54 per cent feeling overworked and 39 per cent feeling exhausted it’s crucial that employees are encouraged to take time out to recover and recharge from their hectic work schedules.
Effective leave management and having a workplace culture that encourages the taking of leave, is a vital means of combating employee burnout.
A hybrid blend of in-person and remote work could help maintain a sense of balance – but bosses need to do more
Sage HR, with a number of features and modules to manage leave management in the workplace. Enables HR and people managers to easily review outstanding leave allocated to an employee and highlight to those employees who are not taking the time off they are entitled to.
The benefits of having a more rigorous approach to the leave management process. One which actively engages employees to manage their leave entitlement responsibly, helping to alleviate the issues of burnout are a step towards combating the effects of burnout and their links to the great resignation.Jade.
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July 11, 2022 – 6:09 am /Jade Taryn Graham