Business leaders and directors are starting to gear up for what experts are calling a "turnover tsunami" - a huge tidal wave of employee turnover due to multiple factors including employee disengagement, pandemic burnout, personal reflection and a diminished corporate culture. The pandemic has had many short term and long term repercussions on how businesses operate as well as how employees are treated and feel. Amid mass layoffs and redundancies, fears of job security and the many lockdowns and restrictions, with perfect reasoning, many employees stayed put in their roles, thankful to just have jobs. However, this does not denigrate their needs and reasons for wanting to jump ship.
According to a survey by Prudential Financial, 26% of employees plan to look for a new job with a new employer once the threat of the pandemic decreases. Many of these employees have been "sheltering in place" - a term used to describe employees who have remained at their current company due to pandemic uncertainty.
Now as restrictions start to ease, and more employees are heading back to their offices, even if hybrid working, there will be many changes which may be fueled by complex and confounding forces. Not only will there be more churn, but companies have also changed in terms of their business models, customer demands, competition and ways of working.
Some of the reasons for this turnover tsunami include:
- Employee burnout: This has intensified during the pandemic. Employees have been loaded with numerous responsibilities on top of their current work responsibilities and stresses. Throw in restrictions, working from home, home-schooling, uncertainties of finances, many losses, having no space, the list is endless.
- Reflection and choice: The crisis has given people the time and space to recalibrate and reflect on what's important, what makes them tick, how they want to be treated and reassess their options. Many have adopted the "life is too short" motto to be doing something which isn't necessarily bringing out the best in them, thus, career pivoting to something more meaningful and better suited is to be expected.
- Renewed demand: Many employees have been in basic survival mode, focusing on getting by day by day, instead of growth opportunities in their careers, even if they had their lightbulb moments of what's next. Now with majority vaccinated and the economy starting to open up, there seems like some light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a lot of chopping and changing, which will open up renewed demand.
Employees are all too familiar with what comes with employee turnover; from the impact it has on the bottom line, to finding the correct candidates, training times and costs, lack of productivity during the handover period, decreased team morale and potentially organisational reputation. Not only will businesses need to brace the many changes of turnover as a whole, but there is a whole new territory of changes which the pandemic has introduced, whilst trying to bounce back from over a year of unpredictability as well as navigating the new-normal landscape.
Here are some valuable things businesses can do to support their teams, and themselves:
- Review job descriptions: As many organisations had to automate processes in order to survive, manager now have an opportunity to review their employees roles and descriptions, and see if it's possible to move them onto more interesting and analytic tasks which will engage them, rather than just backfilling roles with the same skills. There's opportunity to help upskill your teams by offering training, mentoring and shadowing so they have opportunities to grow and develop, which will suit their hunger for growth and diversity, and in turn, will benefit your company.
- Recognise your employees: During the heat of the pandemic and beyond, employees are generally feeling demotivated, worried, unnoticed and on edge, with obvious reason to. While employees are doing their utmost to juggle working from home, hybrid working, home-schooling, long summer holidays, the blurred boundaries of home and work, many are feeling the lack of recognition which occurred a lot more impulsively and sporadically when being face-to-face, such as a “thank you” in front of the team. When receiving a well done or public acknowledgment in front of the team (be it on Zoom), there is nothing better to boost morale and make one feel valued. The ramifications of this are great, where commitment and motivation can increase the likelihood of job hunting can decrease. Whether you decide to recognise and reward informally, or by implementing a full scale reward and recognition programme, this is an area where time and efforts should be allocated.
- Work-life balance: This is undoubtedly one of the most spoken about topics for HR and business leaders. If a company aims to support their employees during this transition and beyond, it is their duty of care to encourage a healthy work-life balance, where employees are not constantly burnt out and have the opportunity to have a vigorous balance where they’re not expected to be available 24/7. Offering flexi-working hours, giving employee discounts with lifestyle benefits like a concierge team, discounted gym memberships and cheap cinema tickets, are some ways to ensure employees are stimulated outside the work, as opposed to only looking after them within the working environment.
- Ask and listen: This sounds simple, but carrying this out with conviction can save a lot of stress down the time. Offer your employees retention surveys to evaluate what is working and what's not. If these employees do leave, conduct full exit interviews in order to assess the why's and then what action plans you can put in place, to prevent this from happening to your current and prospective employees. Another vital way in doing this is to reiterate to your teams that you have an open door policy, and by opening up this will not jeopardise their roles, but will help with adapting moving forward and improving the pain-points. Often employees don't feel comfortable enough to speak up, and / or organisations ask the questions to tick the boxes, instead of using this as a constructive exercise to best support and retain their talent.
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