According to a number of HR experts around the globe, the pandemic has had an interesting effect on the workforce.
While it might be obvious to think that people will be grateful to get back to their jobs and a sense of ‘normalcy’ once the lockdowns end, in fact, the opposite is likely to be the case.
By Paul Rattray
After months of trying to stay afloat and work out how to move forward in ‘post-Covid normal’, business owners could soon find themselves faced with another serious issue — staff retention.
In the US, Covid-19 has led to what’s been dubbed the “Great Resignation” –millions of people, from frontline workers to senior executives, have been voluntarily quitting their jobs.
According to research conducted by Microsoft, more than 40 per cent of the global workforce are considering leaving their employers in the coming 12 months.
Why? Well, the pandemic has had a profound effect on people’s lives — having faced months of uncertainty many find themselves no longer craving security, but instead wanting to step outside their comfort zones and change their entire lives.
We’re already seeing something of a pandemic-related exodus from the cities as people move into regional areas for the lifestyle or to be closer to family.
Experts say the peak of the trend is likely to hit here sometime early next year, and businesses need to be prepared.
So while your focus will be on stabilising your business as we start to prepare for ‘re-opening’, this must absolutely include stabilising your workforce.
How? Start with having open and frank conversations with their employees.
As we head back to work, employee wellbeing will need to be top of mind — everyone has coped differently over the past several months, and the impact of an employee’s fragile mental health, exhaustion, anxiety or general emotional issues, including overall life dissatisfaction, can have serious repercussions, which will, be much more costly if it not addressed appropriately.
Maintaining open communication, creating safe spaces for confidential conversations, providing resources, information and access to specialist mental health service providers are all going to be important. And so too will be conversations about reinvigorating workplace culture and motivation.
Employers have long valued feeling valued, but more than that, now they are craving flexibility and much more work-life balance.
Interestingly, the HR experts say that money is not a particularly high factor in the equation for employees right now, and this is good news for small businesses who are struggling financially and perhaps not in a position to offer significant pay rises.
Think about other ways you can reward employees: tickets to movies, meal vouchers, weekends away.
Consider how you can retain good people. Is there potential to move to another role within the company if someone is no longer happy with what they’re currently doing? Can you offer retraining options, flexible hours, work-from-home options, hybrid options, additional leave?
When you’re considering remuneration, think about the potential for bundling in health insurance or a gym membership or a company car that the employee can also use for private purposes, too. However, if you do this, you need to also factor in Fringe Benefits Tax, so it’s worthwhile talking to your accountant or professional tax advisor about the impact on your business.
Employees, and the knowledge they have, the experience they bring, as well as contribution they make to overall team culture — does impact the stability of a business significantly.
So don’t downplay it. For employers, to be forewarned is to be forearmed, as the saying goes. Make sure that you are in a position to manage people leaving, particularly key people, or perhaps even multiple people at the same time.
Overall, as we head back to work leaders will need to ensure they have the empathy to be able to create open dialogue with employees and be prepared to negotiate to keep the right people.
And if we can help, contact us.