On Friday, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shares the job openings and labor turnover summary for September.
While its recent labor market figures for October showed positive signs of recovery, as the non-farm payroll increased by 531,000, the BLS reported that a record number of people quit in September 2021.
The quit level reached 4.4 million people, which is the highest figure since the BLS started collecting resignation data in December 2000.
This is an increase of 164,000 on August’s figures – the largest increases were in arts, entertainment, and recreation, as well as state and local government education.
Evidently, the ‘Great Resignation’ is not slowing down and is in fact gathering pace – so it is high time that employers respond, and quickly, to avoid potentially catastrophically high attrition rates.
Preventing the ‘Great Resignation’
Keeping your employees is, of course, much easier said than done, so where should organizations start?
Management consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) has some advice to help employers to retain their employees, and their skills and experience.
AWA managing director Andrew Mawson commented: “As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the game has changed and so must organizations if they are going to hang on to their best people and attract the talent they need for the future.
“Change is never easy but, without it, the success of many organizations in a rapidly evolving digital world will be limited.
“Employers must act now or the ‘Great Resignation’ will leave them with a big hole in their skilled and knowledgeable workforce which, in extremis, could be mission critical.”
1. Upskill managers
First of all, AWA recommends that employers focus on managers and updating their skills from being ‘control and tell’ to being ‘coach and support’ in style.
This will help create a friendly, inclusive culture at work, which is centered around trust and fairness.
“Unfairness in treatment or benefits is something that will start to eat away at workers’ loyalty, enabling the headhunters who has been ‘chipping away’ to convince the employee in ‘at least having a conversation’ with a prospective employer”, noted the report.
The importance of creating a fair workplace, particularly in the hybrid future of work, was also highlighted by Gartner’s Brian Kropp in a recent UNLEASH interview.
He calls on employers to focus on employee experience, including equitable access to opportunities, as well as offering flexibility at work and looking at wellbeing programs that foster belonging.
All of this feeds into trust and transparency that is so essential to making employees feel valued at work.
2. Accommodate individuals’ preferences
AWA agreed that managers need to listen to employees’ preferences around workplace flexibility – not just around location, but also time and pattern.
“The aim must be to work with each individual and team to create new arrangements that, wherever possible, meet the individual’s work-life needs and aspirations while meeting team and operational requirements,” noted the report.
It continued: “If organizations are going to retain the loyalty of their people and the enthusiasm for the work they do, they will have to come some way toward the employee in striking new deals that work for everyone.”
AWA further noted that this is good for talent attraction in the ‘Great Resignation’ too. It argued that organizations that actually listen to employees will become “magnets” for disgruntled employees working for competitors.
3. Focus on culture
The report added that while the executive may worry that hybrid working will be anarchy and a threat to company culture and therefore rally against it, what they should be doing is rethink how to foster company culture with a distributed workforce.
In a recent UNLEASH interview, Workvivo CEO John Goulding called on employers to no longer see the office as “spiritual home of an organization”, but instead they should focus on creating a “digital core” and use communication tools to build company culture online.
AWA noted that even if employees are not working in the same location, organizations should still implement a buddy system and mentorship scheme. This is particularly important for new hires if you want to retain them long-term.
The report concluded: “The pandemic has triggered hybrid working and new attitudes.
“It isn’t just about where you work; it’s about how you manage, your culture and recognition that the employee has more power in the relationship with the organization”.