As if the past 18 months haven’t been challenging enough for leaders and business owners, it is now clear that what was important to your staff pre COVID-19 in relation to their careers and aspirations may not be the same for their future.
So, is the next challenge going to be how to retain and attract talent to businesses or are we facing in the next 12 months what is named as the “great resignation” and; are the employees the ones in the driving seat?
In a recent UK and Ireland survey – 38% of those surveyed were considering leaving their current employers in the next 12 months. Many who put their career aspirations on hold during lockdown are now considering their options and opportunities. However, although recent studies show that salary is important it is only seen as 20% of the overall reasons why people stay or leave to join another organisation.
What has become apparent is what employees are now looking for in both their current and potential employers and; some of these may be the game changer for an individual in making their decisions;
Greater Flexibility in where they work and how often (known as Hybrid/Home working) which leads on to;
Work Life Balance is one of the most important factors. People want to be able to find the right balance that allows them not to endure for example the daily commute and/or school runs and for many they have found the right balance and also enjoy the commute savings as well. But what was more important are the hours back that they have from not commuting that then allow them to participate more in their home life.
Employee Benefits and around overall wellbeing (including financial wellbeing), mental health support, private medical insurance (given the current backlog as examples of treatments/operations/dentistry work).
Communication & Recognition (LinkedIn data) found that communication and being recognised by their employer also impacted on their overall wellbeing. A simple thank you goes a long way in recognition. Communication and transparency is paramount in the relationship between an employee and employer. We have seen many organisations criticised for not keeping their employees aware of business model changes, financial impact (positive and negative) that the pandemic has had on them, and an overall understanding on what is happening in the business.
Development & Progression even the most loyal employees may still want progression in their career and want to understand the future strategy and plans of their employer and what opportunities that can give to them, which then leads on to;
Purpose every employee should have an insight and understanding of not only their own purpose within an organisation, but also what the company purpose is – and whether that company purpose is aligned to their own. Is for example, their personal purpose about climate change aligned to your procurement/supply chains and how the delivery of your products/services may impact on climate change.
(PWC study and data) found that Millennials who have a strong connection to their employer’s purpose are 5.3 times likely to stay and 12% surveyed have said that they will leave their current employer if not aligned.
So where does that leave employers who have already weathered a very challenging 18 months with their people. Well, why not survey your workforce and find out what is now of greater importance to them, ask for ideas of what the business could look to consider implementing, (of course costs will play a big part of this) but given the “cost” to a business if an employee leaves of recruiting a replacement, training etc is it justified in additional costs for an employer if it retains their talent?
There isn’t a quick fix, but they don’t have to be costly if you implement Communication & Recognition and Purpose as a starting point.
But where does the data conflict with flexibility in where people work and how often? An interesting point, because some companies are already finding that Hybrid working may not be suitable for all and is there also a potential risk of discrimination claims from your younger or more inexperienced workforce who are just embarking on their careers and a company Hybrid working policy may have a negative impact on their progression and learning?
Let us consider this further –
Younger people in your business embarking on the early stages of their career may house share or live at home. Most Hybrid policies state that you must have space to work freely, safely and to have a standalone workspace to fit their IT equipment on (H&S and duty of care that employees work in a safe environment includes working from home) and as Hybrid working is on a longer-term basis this is different to when we were all locked down in March 2020 and; therefore no option than to working from home when we know that for some the bedroom, kitchen and dining table became the workspace. So, if your younger members aren’t given permission to work Hybrid because they cannot fulfil that obligation, is there a risk of Age Discrimination under The Equality Act? We don’t know that yet, but there lies a possibility.
However, it is more than just about whether they can or can’t work from home, Hybrid or otherwise, it is the impact of their training and progression that must also be thought through. How do they learn aspects of the business that can’t be trained or delivered over Zoom or Teams? For example, company culture, building working relationships, collaboration, innovation, support networks, role models, mentors, learning by making mistakes and dealing with challenges and really learning about who the business that they have joined are? Is there a risk that this may hamper their development and therefore their journey with your business at what is a critical time of their introduction into work life?
Here’s another provoking thought on Hybrid working and mental health –
Recent surveys have stated that those working from home a) can feel disconnected to the business, b) feel isolated (Hybrid is great for introverts, but not so great for extroverts who thrive in the day to day interactions with colleagues and peers), c) there is a feeling that they are “not trusted” by their bosses, d) never put themselves as “not available” on internal systems, as it may be seen that they are not working, e) have Zoom/Teams fatigue and even something simple like popping to the loo, or getting their lunch, they believe that they have to be contactable at all times. In the office/workspace environment these daily activities isn’t even a consideration, so why if people are working from home does this change what they believe is the “perception” or is this simply because they are not visible. What ever it is appears to have an effect on mental health and wellbeing.
What is apparent is the data and editorials conflict constantly, in one way most want to have the flexibility of working from home, but this comes with other negativities such as the feeling of isolation, anxieties of how they are perceived, perception of their output. However, is it really this or is this the overriding reality of the pandemic, lockdown, isolation families, home schooling, furlough, bereavement, financial worries (examples) of what the past 18 months has had on everyone’s mental state of mind.
If any of our clients would like Black Mountain to assist in the creation, delivery and outcomes of employee surveys and/or any clients that would like to discuss employee benefits, please contact us? We have the inhouse expertise.