The mindsets of business owners and employers aren’t the only outlooks that have shifted significantly since the onset of COVID-19. Individuals are changing the way they think about life and work. Today’s workforce is feeling the weight of pandemic fatigue, which has employees reevaluating their priorities and expectations. Amid what’s now termed “The Great Resignation,” workers are abandoning their posts at an alarming rate, leaving many employers operating with an even wearier, overworked skeleton crew and playing a sparse recruiting field that’s rife with labor shortages and competitive job openings. To help employers meet these challenges, we’re taking a look at five truths about The Great Resignation and how employers can use this knowledge to stay ahead of the trends.
#1 – The reach of The Great Resignation is already vast, and employers will need battle-tested, research-based solutions to weather the effects.
According to the BLS data, in October 2021 alone, 4% of the total US workforce separated from their employment, and nearly 3% of those workers quit voluntarily. In Massachusetts, 90,000 workers quit their jobs in September, and 82,000 more quit in October. Should this trend continue for much longer, combined with the distinct labor shortage and particularly at the low end of the market, the impact could be catastrophic, especially for employers in the retail, entertainment, and restaurant and hospitality sectors.
#2 – Today’s workers are looking for flexibility.
While some employers may still be wary of maintaining remote and hybrid work environments long-term, research is busting many of the common myths and concerns associated with these types of working environments. According to PwC’s January 2021 US Remote Work Survey, 83% of the employers and 71% of employees surveyed felt their shift to remote work had been successful. According to a June 2021 study by Quantum Workplace, 78% of the employees surveyed reported high engagement in a remote environment, and 81% reported high engagement in a hybrid environment. The physical office came in last, with only 72% of respondents reporting high in-office engagement.
Streamlining and automating HR functions, such as payroll, scheduling, administration of benefits, and timekeeping, can help you ensure your remote or hybrid workforce remains productive and efficient. Automated solutions also promote employee self-service, which can alleviate some of the burden on your HR personnel in turn.
#3 – Employees want to feel supported and safe in their working environment.
Just as many employers felt their plans for the return to work had solid legs beneath them, the emergence of the delta and omicron variants began thwarting their best efforts. The new variants increased the public’s concern for health and safety and, for some employers, ushered in new tension related to masks, vaccines, mandates, and boosters.
The effects of the pandemic have left many of us feeling more fearful and vulnerable. According to a CDC study, as early as June of 2020, nearly 41% of employees surveyed were already reporting at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, such as anxiety, depression, and increased substance abuse, related to the pandemic. Workers expect their employers to take a more holistic and empathetic approach to employee management, recognize the hardships they’re facing, and foster a company culture rooted in genuine support, care, and concern.
#4 – Data shows competitive pay and benefits have emboldened the workforce to leave behind the fear of change to actively pursue alternate job opportunities.
Generally speaking, people prefer to stick with what they know because familiarity and routine are comfortable. But that’s no longer the status quo. In conducting their latest US Pulse Survey, PwC found that 65% of the employees surveyed were looking for new jobs. Workers who are leaving their jobs have cited everything from safety concerns and unmet child-care needs to the state of the stock market and stimulus-padded savings accounts as their motives to leave or opt for early retirement. But PwC’s survey also shows the majority of workers actively on the hunt are in search of higher pay (41%), better benefits (23%), career advancement opportunities (33%), and increased flexibility (34%), which means recruiting and retention comprise the newest blood sport among competing employers.
Start by taking stock of your current recruiting and retention procedures, pay, and benefits. Attracting top talent and retaining key employees may require you to up your game, so take a look with an eye to align your employee benefits with your competitors and leverage any opportunities to improve your recruiting, onboarding, training, and incentive programs.
#5 – Reskilling, cross-skilling, and upskilling are valuable training tools that benefit both employers and their employees.
For many, workers are scarce, and labor shortages are stifling their recruiting efforts, which means it may be an opportune time to consider reskilling, cross-skilling, and upskilling. These training methods can be mutually beneficial for employers and their employees, and they are particularly essential to the success of a remote or hybrid working environment. According to a study by Deloitte, 72% of global executives rank their employees’ abilities to adapt, reskill, and adjust to new roles as either the most or second-most important factor in their future business resilience. Reskilling may be necessary for employees to perform their regular duties, as performing them remotely may change the related procedures significantly.
If you have fewer employees on the payroll, take an inventory of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses to assess where cross-skilling is the best fit. And don’t disregard the value of upskilling right now, as it often opens doors to career advancement, which is an opportunity today’s workforce holds in high regard. Cross-skilling and upskilling can also make an employee’s work more interesting and fulfilling. Because today’s employees may be primed to jump ship for opportunities they deem more fulfilling, now more than ever, employers must consider ways to hold their employees’ interest and attention.
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*The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This article contains links to other third-party websites provided only for the convenience of the reader.