The Great Resignation: give teams reasons to stay

In the wake of the pandemic, there are reports of employees leaving the workforce in droves. It’s been dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’, and it’s something employers are desperately trying to avoid. 

Job vacancies in the UK alone surpassed one million in August this year. Across the pond, a record four million Americans quit their jobs in April. But what’s causing it?

In a bitter-sweet turn of events, the pandemic highlighted imbalances and shortcomings in many peoples' workplaces. Wellbeing and flexible working are among the top concerns.

While for others, the pandemic sparked a renewed sense of optimism and entrepreneurial spirit. People are rethinking their careers altogether. In fact, one in seven adults now plan to become an entrepreneur, according to Natwest’s latest report.

Understandably, talk of the Great Resignation and the UK recruitment shortage has left many employers feeling uneasy. Furthermore, a report by Reed found that 71% of respondents are actively job-hunting and open to new opportunities. 

With that in mind, there is no time to waste. Employers must act now to hold their teams together. But what can be done?

Lead with empathy

Leadership will look a little different post-pandemic. What used to be considered a ‘soft skill’ is now crucial to effective leadership; empathy. 

The pandemic has tested all of us. As a result, workers’ needs have changed. Whether that’s the need for flexible hours or extra support, employers unable (or unwilling) to accommodate those needs risk losing out to an employer that will. 

So, what employees really need right now is a leader who understands their personal circumstances and how that impacts their work. A leader who checks in, asks questions, pays attention and takes action. A leader who cares.

As well as helping to build positive relationships, empathy has a positive impact on innovation, inclusivity, engagement, retention and work-life balance, according to a global study by Catalyst

Openly expressing empathy may not come easy to all of us, but that’s no excuse. Not when leaders can lead by example; educate themselves in mental health matters, enlist the help of experts and practice what they preach.

Invest in wellbeing

Wellbeing is not a buzzword, it’s a non-negotiable. According to a report by Limeade, 40% of respondents who left their jobs cited burnout as the main reason for leaving. 

Companies can reduce the risk of burnout by maintaining manageable workloads, promoting positive work-life balance and supporting employee wellbeing. 

Invest in a company-wide wellbeing programme. If there already is one, is it working as intended? It’s time to find out.

Anonymous surveys are an effective way to gauge how employees are feeling and whether they feel like their wellbeing matters. We use CharlieHR’s survey feature to regularly check in with the team.

A wellbeing programme could (and arguably should) include:

  • Mental health support
  • Physical health and fitness incentives
  • Occupational health
  • Health insurance
  • Optimal working environments
  • Access to external resources

And advocate:

  • Manageable workloads
  • Work-life balance
  • Recreational and social activities
  • Flexible working

Embrace flexible working

Speaking of flexible working, 40% of respondents of the Limeade study who had secured a new job, said that they chose that job because it offered either remote or flexible working.

Our own report with YouGov revealed that flexibility would tip the scales for a staggering 66% of workers if they had to choose one (otherwise identical) job over another.

We touched on empathy earlier, and that plays a key role here. It’s important to understand each individual workers’ needs. Some want to work remotely as it suits their lifestyle or childcare responsibilities. Whereas others are chomping at the bit to get back to the office to socialise with their teammates. 

Others want the best of both worlds, or at the very least, flexible working hours. Either way, a lack of flexibility at work will undoubtedly lead to lots more employees walking out the door. Employers need to find a way to make flexible working work if they haven’t already.

Offer equity

You might be wondering, what has equity got to do with this? Well, employee share schemes like Enterprise Management Incentives are proven to not only improve retention but attract new talent as well. 

Following the Government’s call for evidence, we analysed huge data sets to pull together a report that revealed many positive outcomes for companies operating an EMI scheme:

  • 92.9% of Vestd customers confirmed that EMI has helped recruitment efforts.
  • And 95.2% said that EMI has helped with retention.

The stats aside, what sharing equity does to a team is transformative. Employees with a stake in the business, skin in the game, are likely to perform better and support each other as they have a vested interest.

Those who contribute to a company’s success deserve a slice of the pie, a reward for their efforts. It’s a philosophy that can inspire teams to do great things.

While lots of people quit their jobs over the course of the pandemic, as we’ve shown, others are only considering it. Granted that’s a cause for concern, but it also presents a unique opportunity. Adapt now to build a better, stronger business. One that employees will want to stick around for!