With a recent report from Randstat UK claiming almost a quarter of UK workers plan to quit their roles, businesses are at risk of productivity and financial crises. But what are the motivations behind this supposed ‘Great Resignation’? And how can employers support staff to minimise the feelings of disconnect and burnout that commonly lead to individuals quitting roles?
Two years of disruption has taken its toll. For example, many experiencing full-time remote work have developed new healthy habits they aren’t willing to give up, like spending more time with family and avoiding stressful commutes.
For others, the pandemic has proved more stressful. Remote work has isolated some and others have faced additional demands to compensate for lost business or cover for furloughed colleagues.
However, for positive or negative, the sentiment for 1 in 4 UK workers is the same – they would rather quit than compromise.
Not only does each lost worker cost businesses an estimated £25,000, according to that same survey, in reduced output and hiring replacements but even for those able to swiftly find a replacement, it’s estimated new employees take up to 28 weeks to reach optimum productivity.
And unfortunately, in many cases, remaining employees are left taking on this added stress.
These employees can spend months managing an extra workload with little reward – either financially or in recognition for their efforts.
The result is overworked, underappreciated employees experiencing the negative impacts of long-term stress, which often includes physical symptoms like fatigue, nausea and stomach problems, as well as emotional symptoms including anxiety, low mood and depression.
And this is without considering the emotional impact. The Great Resignation may see employees losing friends and support networks that they rely on both in their role and for their wellbeing.
But for conscientious employers, the Great Resignation may represent a positive challenge in reshaping employee benefits.
Many are instead framing the potential exodus as a ‘Great Reshuffling’ – with employees not simply quitting their careers but relocating to companies that better reflect their values.
So, with the power seemingly in the hands of the employees, how can business leaders accommodate their offerings to avoid disruption?
Firstly, businesses must understand employee motivations and which benefits they value.
Businesses must also remember no single benefit or intervention suits everyone. Organising one-to-one meetings with employees to understand the offerings they value most helps with grouping and prioritising benefits.
For many, this is likely to include flexibility – meeting the needs of those who prefer to work remotely, in the office, or a hybrid model. It may also include simply offering greater freedom over working hours. For example, allowing employees to take extended lunch breaks to balance parental responsibilities – catching up in the evening – or staggering start times.
But it’s also important to consider those who are struggling, rather than thriving, in their current situation. This may include those carrying the burden for departed employees or simply struggling to cope with the isolation and loneliness of remote working.
Employees should be signposted towards formal support on offer. For example, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and remote CBT offer direct access to mental health specialists.
Offering mental health awareness training also equips employees with effective knowledge and skills to listen to and support colleagues. This may be especially effective during periods of high staff turnover.
It’s also important to consider the physical stresses on employees and how businesses can alleviate them. Firstly, offering free health assessments in the workplace gives employers a clearer understanding of the needs of their team. Then, they can offer tailored interventions.
This may include making reasonable adjustments in the home and the workplace to support employees to work comfortably, such as a ‘working from home budget’ to equip staff with ergonomic home offices.
Similarly, offering flexible working hours allows employees to attend exercise classes during sociable hours, and inviting wellbeing experts to run seminars in the office can equip them to enjoy more active lifestyles.
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