The past year has seen a wave of resignations around the world. Texas A&M University Professor Anthony Klotz coined the term ‘the Great Resignation’ to describe the record number of voluntary resignations across the US amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Experts say this seismic shift has been driven by several factors: an increased focus on flexibility and work-balance, evolving career priorities and employees’ growing expectations around how they should be treated by their employer.

It’s predicted a similar wave of resignations will hit our local shores as Australian workers reevaluate their jobs and how work fits into their broader lives. So, what steps can employers take to brace themselves for this significant workforce change?

Make flexible working the standard

The pandemic has fundamentally disrupted the way we work and left the traditional 9-to-5 workplace firmly in the past. Research by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows that support for workplace flexibility is now widespread by employees and employers alike, and that flexible work policies promote equality, increase retention and reduce exhaustion, burnout and fatigue.

As companies explore what the ‘new normal’ will look like, it is critical to consider how flexible work can be embedded into organisational culture, supported by strong policies and strategies. Providing the flexibility employees now expect – ​​in terms of place, working hours, job description and career paths – will be key to retaining staff over the long term.

Provide opportunities for development

Recent research by Harvard Business Review found that a significant predictor of whether employees remain engaged in their role is how positively they answer the question, “Does my job make good use of my skills?” Likewise, 68% of workers around the world are willing to retrain and learn new skills.

Providing employees with opportunities to grow and advance is key to demonstrating that your organisation is invested in individual development, and giving employees the confidence that they have a path to career progression if they stay in their job.

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Focus on culture and relationship-building

Take time to connect and build relationships with, and amongst, your employees. HBR survey data reveals that workers across both white-collar and blue-collar industries place higher importance on having a “good relationship with coworkers” than on many other job attributes.

Developing a tight-knit company culture and strong team bonds not only has a positive impact on productivity and engagement, but also cultivates a sense of loyalty that translates to increased employee retention.

Foster meaningful work

Engaged, satisfied employees understand that the work they are doing is important, find purpose in their day-to-day responsibilities and take pride in the results of their efforts. From a management perspective, it is crucial to reinforce the relationship between your employees’ roles and your company’s purpose and values. 

Have regular, transparent conversations about the company’s objectives and the ways in which employees’ efforts are contributing to success. Also invite feedback from employees about company strategies and initiatives to instil a sense of ownership over the direction of the company.

RELATED: Why a good talent attraction plan is the first step to retaining your best staff

Develop a data-driven retention strategy

Understanding and measuring the key drivers of retention at your company – and conversely, the predictors of resignation – is essential to developing a successful long-term retention strategy. 

Employee engagement surveys, candidate feedback and exit interviews can all offer valuable insights into the success of your retention initiatives, and areas that need to be improved moving forward. 

Looking for support with hiring committed, engaged employees? Talk to the consultants at Michael Page – Australia’s leading recruitment agency.


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