In the wake of the pandemic, 40 per cent of the workforce want to change jobs, research shows. An expert talks about what can be done to convince employees to stay.
Recessions usually transform the employee experience for the worse, but the shock the pandemic has delivered is second to none. In March, a Microsoft survey of over 30,000 people across 31 countries, including Australia, found that over 40 per cent were thinking of handing in their notice this year.
Employee experience platform Culture Amp recently analysed more than 100,000 workers who exited the workforce between January and August 2021. The people and culture company found four key reasons behind these departures: inclusion, role expectations, career growth and, specifically during the pandemic period, enablement.
On 21 October, Tina Salameh, Senior People Scientist at Culture Amp, will be co-hosting a webinar on The Great Resignation with Belinda Hughes, Head of People Experience at Endeavour Foundation. They will explore the ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon, and talk about how HR and business leaders can improve the employee experience in a rapidly changing world.
Salameh shared some insights ahead of the webinar.
Not just a recession
During a downturn, employers often respond to economic conditions with actions that can harm employee engagement. They freeze recruitment, cut headcount, reduce training spend and limit pay increases.
The result? Malaise and resentment, although employees typically defer moving jobs until the economy is stronger and more options are available.
The pandemic has presented additional challenges, says Salameh, particularly around the shift to hybrid working.
“Employees want more flexibility. They no longer accept excuses about how working from home is not an option,” she says. “A Morning Consult survey found that 39 per cent of respondents would consider quitting if their managers weren’t flexible about working from home.”
The shift to hybrid work has also left time for reflection on what really matters in life – and, for a lot of employees, that’s not the workplace.
“Employees who have been able to work from home have that additional two hours back in their lives because they’re not commuting,” says Salameh. “Whether it’s adopting pets, having kids or taking on new hobbies, they have enjoyed not working to that usual pattern.”
However, it’s not just flexible work that’s made these past two years different from a typical recession. The social change movements that coincided with the pandemic have also presented challenges, says Salameh.
“Whether it was restructures, their company failing to respond to social justice movements, or losing colleagues who were treated poorly and not communicated with transparently, these past 18 months have scarred employees.”
The importance of good data
To prevent your best employees from leaving, you have to know their intentions before they hand in their resignations. This means accurate data is crucial.
Culture Amp found that employees who strongly disagreed with the statement “I see myself still working at [Company] in two years’ time” were almost three times more likely to leave than those who selected other response options. This sentiment was doubled for high performers.
Source: Culture Amp
There’s evidence that organisations are increasingly interested in gathering this data.
“I’m seeing this huge emergence of roles such as Employee Experience Manager and Employee Experience Advisor,” says Salameh. “It shows me that organisations are really prioritising resources that focus on multiple touchpoints throughout the employee’s journey, not just onboarding and exit surveys.”
While exit surveys occur too late to retain the individual talent that is leaving, Salameh says they should still be conducted. They can help organisations learn how to attract future stars and retain existing talent.
“Companies that aren’t running exit surveys should definitely look to start the practice,” she says. “The people running surveys should pay close attention to how scores have evolved throughout the pandemic compared to 18 months ago.”
Data, machine learning and HR professionals’ people skills are the future of employee experience, says Salameh. Combined, they can help prevent your best from resigning.
“One practical application of predictive analytics is using machine learning to identify the people who will leave in the future. A tool like Culture Amp’s turnover forecast can identify which groups are most likely to churn based on gender, tenure, performance, division and any other demographic. It will also tell you what you can do to preemptively target that group before it’s too late.”
The Great Resignation webinar is at 12 pm AEDT on 21 October. To learn why your employees are leaving, how to better support and develop your managers, and how to empower and grow your employees, register here.