In the first instalment of HRM’s new video series – The Big HR Question – Ben Hamer CPHR and Dom Price share their perspectives on whether the Great Resignation will play out, and reframe how we should think about retention.
The mention of the Great Resignation might have some people rolling their eyes at this point. It’s dominating headlines and conversations amongst employers and HR professionals so much so that some people are starting to feel as though it has being sensationalised.
So has it? Atlassian’s Dom Price thinks so. He says we need to use this opportunity to have important conversations about how we can redesign work and enhance the employee experience.
While PwC’s Dr Ben Hamer CPHR agrees that this is an opportunity to rethink how we work, he doesn’t think the Great Resignation has been overstated. In fact, he thinks some employers are hiding behind the February 2021 ABS stat which suggest that job-switching behaviours are at an all-time low. This, he says, is just the calm before the storm.
You can view the fascinating conversation between Price and Hamer below.
Want to skip to the section that interests you most? Here are some key timestamps:
- 49 seconds – Price and Hamer share whether they think The Great Resignation has been overstated.
- 2 minutes 56 seconds – Will we see the same resignation rates in Australia as we’ve seen in the US and UK? Hamer doesn’t think so, but he reiterates that local turnover rates are still significant. He also says there are more jobs than in pre-pandemic times, and less people applying for them, so the market is ripe for jobseekers.
- 4 minutes and 43 seconds – Price poses the question: should we think about the Great Marriage or the Great Divorce? “If everybody gets divorced and then gets remarried, should we celebrate the re-marriage? Is the fact that people are leaving jobs the news or is it where these people are going?”
- 5 minutes and 41 seconds – Price says the flip side of people moving jobs is that businesses have to make “demonstrable” changes to retain talent. If people jump ship for a few extra thousand dollars each year, they’ll quickly realise it’s just as bad as their last experience. Culture is what people actually want to move for, he says. And that’s what will keep them with you.
- 8 minutes and 58 seconds – Hamer says an important lesson for HR is to learn when to let people go. HR needs to stop thinking about retention in a black or white manner. Sometimes you need to support people to leave your organisation and then they might end up coming back to you down the track.
- 9 minutes and 54 seconds – Hamer and Price discuss how Omicron has impacted the Great Resignation from playing out. Price says it’s important for HR to stop trying to “policy [their] way through this”. He says HR professionals instead need to adapt their way through it and rely on guardrails rather than rules.
- 11 minutes and 54 seconds – Price says he’s worried about the employees who were going to quit in 2020 or 2021 and now can’t be bothered. Many people might look at that as a successful retention statistic, but it misses the key metric that makes a workforce hum: engagement. At some point, we need to have conversations about whether or not people are adding value, contributing and acting as a multiplier, says Price.
- 13 minutes and 44 seconds – Hamer responds to the February 2021 statistic from the ABS which states that job-switching behaviours are at an all-time low. Some commentators use this metric as an argument to suggest that the Great Resignation isn’t happening in Australia, but this stat represents the calm before the storm, says Hamer. This means the impact of mass resignations is about to be felt more intensely by employers. While experts thought the swathe of resignations might happen in March this year, Omicron may have extended that out a little, he adds.
- 17 minutes – Is this more of a small reshuffle than a Great Resignation? While Hamer doesn’t really care what we call it, he says to suggest it’s something small or insignificant is to bury your head in the sand.
- 19 minutes and 19 seconds – In their closing thoughts, Price highlights the importance of understanding your employee value proposition (EVP). This has to go beyond how you attract and onboard people and instead encompass the entire employee experience. He also says it’s important to leverage the data and insights that you have. What can you learn from the people who are leaving or staying? What can you learn from the candidates you’re trying to attract? How can you make improvements?Hamer agrees that employers need to reimagine the EVP, but says there are lots of “lazy and naive” executives who aren’t willing to do anything about it. He also suggests to start looking at non-traditional competitors because the changes certain businesses are making could very well lure your people over.
Want to listen to the full conversation? AHRI members can access the extended version of the conversation by joining the AHRI Member’s Lounge, where we will post the full 30-minute conversation between Dom and Ben at 9:30am on 9th Feb 2022.