Employers must give workers more autonomy to prevent them from leaving, experts say.
A new class of workers is emerging from the pandemic: If these employees don’t like your post-COVID policies or practices, they will move on, in search of greener offers. And you may end up with big job gaps and even bigger retention issues.
Between February 2020 and February 2021, 2.4 million women and 1.8 million men left the workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. During that time, employment fell 8.5 million, a loss that Pew said could take more than three years to recover.
The wave of resignation A report by Visier, a people analysis company, found quits have increased this year in tech and healthcare (burnout can be a particular factor), but not in finance and marketing. . From August 2019 to August 2020, resignations also increased in all age groups except 20 to 25 year olds, who are considered entry-level professionals.
What causes the exodus? Many organizations have sought to find out why employees left in the past year, with burnout, concerns about work-life balance and fears of COVID among the potential reasons.
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Flexibility, or the lack of it, is perhaps at the heart of all of these factors. Based on a global survey conducted by the professional services network EY, 87% and 88% of respondents believe that flexibility in the workplace is important where and when they work, respectively, says Elizabeth Fealy, Global Assistant for the Practice of Personnel Advisory Services at EY.
She believes the genius is out of the bottle when it comes to hybrid work arrangements: Employees don’t just want this flexibility, they expect it.
But, in designing for such formats, HR needs to focus on employee teams, not on individuals or the business as a whole. First, identify the groups that typically work side by side, then determine the base hours and how often they should work together in the office.
Likewise, rebrand the office as a destination where employees come for certain purposes like collaboration, networking or onboarding. Fealy says it will help keep people together and improve camaraderie and, ultimately, retention.
Some organizations are looking to retain their talent by reinvesting in employee development with various segments of the workforce to find out what enriches the employee experience in new hybrid or remote models, Fealy explains. For some, it may be taking advantage of new technology so that employees can better collaborate with their colleagues, on-site or off-site. Just make sure the employee experience is fair for everyone, whether they work from home or the office, she adds.
âEmployers and the workforce will find the right pace with this agile experimentation taking place over the next six to twelve months,â says Fealy. âThe best performers will be those who focus on the teams. “
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Meanwhile, companies that ask their employees to return to the office without any options for flexibility may see attrition skyrocket, adds Lorrie Lykins, vice president of research at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).
The organization, which discovers and advances emerging human capital practices, recently surveyed 348 employers, primarily in North America, on the top 10 drivers of talent loss. No. 1 is burn-out (67%), followed by the lack of development opportunities (48%), remuneration (46%) and the obligation for employees to return to the workplace after working remotely (34%). Another 28% cite that they do not offer flexible work options like hours worked or location.
âOrganizations really run the risk of losing high performing or critical talent,â Lykins says, adding that to reduce turnover, some leaders are encouraging open conversations about employee mental health. âSome HRDs say their employees want more flexibility and autonomy. But their CEO is determined to get everyone back to the office.
HR professionals caught in the middle can arm themselves with data, Lykins says. Survey employees. Share the results. If senior managers ignore them again, she says, they will prepare the organization for disappointment and very difficult lessons.
âRefusing to treat employees like adults is going to have dire consequences,â she said.
What employees want and how the organization responds is important for retention. Yet 56% of 4,500 employees surveyed in five countries by the Limeade Institute said their employer never bothered to ask them for their feedback on returning to the office.
âThis is how you don’t build trust,â says Lindsay Lagreid, senior advisor at the Institute, which studies trends in employee well-being and engagement. âIf you don’t know what employees want, HR can’t develop retention strategies based on their needs. “
Limeade research also found that return anxiety is rampant, with respondents highlighting exposure to COVID, loss of schedule flexibility and returning to a commute to work among the reasons.
Meanwhile, HR professionals shouldn’t see flexibility as a temporary fix – slap a bandage over the problem and hope it goes away.. To support long-term retention, Lagreid suggests hiring independent contractors to lighten workloads, which can generate more flexibility and reduce employee burnout or stress.
âHaving people-centered benefits and practices is going to be very important,â adds Lagreid. âCreating an employee experience where employees feel connected to an organization’s purpose, draw energy from the work they do and where the workplace is human and positive, is going to be extremely critical to the success of organizations. companies. “
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Carol Patton is editor-in-chief for EDH who also writes articles and columns on human resources for business and education magazines. She can be reached at [email protected]