Our working world is more connected, more digital and more fragile than ever. As we edge towards a fully realised post-pandemic working environment, companies in every sector are taking stock of these generationally defining changes to our working norms.
However, in the last 6 months a recruitment paradox has arisen – that of people quitting their jobs in increasingly large numbers despite ongoing fragility in the overall economy and job market. This has been referred to as The Great Resignation – a wholesale, cross-generational move to exit key, traditional industries post-pandemic, driven in the main by novel changes to working expectations, environments and mindsets.
This has been most obvious in the USA and the UK, where figures have shown record breaking numbers of vacancies posted (9.3 million jobs posted by April 2021 and 4 million people quit their jobs), and record amounts of people looking to change jobs in the UK (nearly 40% of polled respondents will be looking for a new job within the next 12 months).
For those in the human capital business, this runs counter to historic recruiting trends – in times of economic turmoil, the recruitment churn rate normally drops, people stay in jobs longer, vacancies drop and movement within the industry grinds to a respective halt.
This inversion in attitudes to career change has been driven by change – primarily the vast roll out of remote and hybrid working strategies, and changing attitudes to remuneration in high-risk industries.
People are less inclined to stay in jobs where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is higher (hospitality for example), and less inclined to return to a commuter-heavy, city or town centric mode of work when remote working categorically works.
The Great Resignation is caused in large part by a lack of intuitive change management at senior level – companies are flatly refusing to countenance remote work (with some now infamous examples in the financial sector proving the point), and as such, people are quitting en masse.
Anecdotally, this comes down to one thing – a complete misstep in judging employee expectations, and refusing to advocate for a more decentralised form of work, caused either by:
- A fear that productivity will decline or staff will slack off work (proven completely untrue),
- A fear that a lack of office culture, or centralised working community, will degrade company revenue and the ability to hire new talent.
So, faced with this wave of changing expectations in regards to how people work, what are leaders meant to do? Here at Rectec, we advise: focus less on the how, more on the why.
Here is how we think you can beat The Great Resignation.
Re-onboard your staff (especially your managers!)
- If your staff are not aligned on new company policy, you’re setting sail on a faulty ship. Now, more than ever, your staff need to be fully, uncompromisingly aware of COVID’s impact on their work and company health. You need to trust your staff to take responsibility for your collective future, and you do that by re-onboarding everyone.
- This means retrofitting any “return to office” policy (in whatever form you’re taking it) by baby stepping your staff into our new normal. Empower your staff with knowledge – here are our growth plans, here is what we need to do, here is what we cannot afford not to do – and use this re-onboarding stage to build a new set of company expectations in regards to work/life balance and staff expectations.
Re-build your performance management
- This means taking the time and effort to create hyper-personalised forms of performance management. This is easily implemented through new tech tools that can give you customisable evaluation, project management, disciplinary, promotion and ongoing analysis strategies, documents and structure.
- But away from the admin, it means you’re taking stock of your team’s future – performance management is your one way of objectively, and consistently, giving your team feedback. It means you are setting aside more time to be specific with your feedback, and giving your team the time and space to ask questions, adopt new ideas and share peer opinions. It can even give your team a place to disagree, and challenge conventional thought.
- Above all else, it means you value communication, and you are taking your team’s career growth seriously.
Review salaries (and be honest about it)
- The Great Resignation is fuelling wage growth, but it’s not equitable across all industries, or even across towns or areas in the same industry.
- The upward pressure from staff on wages is due to lack of staffing – you have to meet this challenge head on. Hospitality and retail are upping their hourly rate. Logistics companies and major retailers are paying previously unheard of salaries for HGV drivers and Warehouse professionals. Your staff know this. If you don’t pay them better, someone else undoubtedly will. Use this to your advantage, and build appropriate salary bandings that meet the demands of our new normal.
Roundtable remote working discussions (where appropriate)
- Make communication between departments, peers, demographics, ages and seniority an absolute priority.
- Whether that’s through anonymised ideas generation via performance management tools, or creating “control groups” of people to put together and test new ideas and new forms of work, whatever it is you do, roundtable new thinking. Bring your teams together to discuss what works and what doesn’t, and make it apparent you will (within reason) listen to any idea, as long as the focus is on betterment, growth, health, welfare and security in a post-COVID environment.
- It’s not rocket science – listen to your teams.
- Empathic, servant leadership is the only real management style left that can beat The Great Resignation. You cannot dig your heels in, or cajole, or berate: your staff are already passively looking for jobs, and The Great Resignation shows they do not fear quitting a job like they once did.
- Listening is half the battle – give your teams the chance to let themselves be heard. Share ideas. Be empathetic. We’ve all had a rough 18 months. Now is the chance to build structures of people management worthy of our new normal, where we all put the people at the centre of how we work.
A quick, responsive process is what you need to keep in mind during the recruitment process. At Rectec we can help you find the best ATS or CRM to suit your needs.
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