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What can we (as employers) do to minimise the impact of ‘the Great Resignation’?

September 23, 2021

What started out as an overseas phenomenon, has fast become commonplace ‘down under’. Employees are leaving their jobs in droves! Many Australians are feeling disengaged with their work and around 1 in 4 Australians are actively looking for work. But why is everyone leaving and what can we do to keep our team around? Let’s find out.


What’s causing ‘the Great Resignation’?

Many people lost their jobs in 2020 and many other people found themselves stuck in their job, too afraid to make a leap into a new one. And with good reason too, as none of us were sure of what was going to happen. For those out of work at the time, they were given the opportunity to - or were forced to, however you’d like to see it - explore new avenues, take on new lines of work, upskill themselves and really think about what it is they want to do. So when things picked back up again in 2021, many people chose to walk away from their jobs and go down other paths.


That's not the only reason why people are leaving their jobs though. The pandemic shifted a focus onto mental health and work-life balance that we hadn’t previously seen. Why? Because a large portion of the population had to suddenly work from home 5 days a week! For many of us who hadn’t previously worked from home at all, we discovered that working from home offered us (among other things):

  • Less commute-related stress
  • Better work-life balance
  • Minimised costs
  • Flexible scheduling
  • The ability to work in our comfy clothes


Working from home means different things to most of us, but after experiencing the freedoms and benefits of working from home, a lot of people wanted it permanently (or at least  semi-permanently). For the companies that weren’t willing to offer that flexibility full-time or at all, lots of employees decided it would be better for them to leave, rather than stay and compromise their mental health and work-life balance. And we can't blame them - how does anyone sell full-time in-office work as sexier than work-life balance and more flexibility? The problem therefore lies with employers. How can we minimise the impact of ‘the Great Resignation’ and get our employees to stay with us? 



What can we do to help our team stick around?

You can probably guess what we will suggest first…


Flexible working options

It’s what the people want! Yes, it’s not practical in every industry and every workplace, but if it’s possible, offer some solutions. Even if it’s simply 1 or 2 days a week at home, a half day on Fridays or the ability to switch a 9-5 to an 8-4, try to meet your employees in the middle! If you offer them some flexibility over their work, you might be more likely to hold onto your employees who are looking for that balance in their lives.


Better mental health support

With a personal focus on their own mental health, employees are now looking to their workplace to provide them with mental health support. Many people have already ventured beyond the mental health tipping point and are not willing to go back to constant stress in a mentally challenging job. Thus, employees are looking to prioritise their mental health over work and they could use their employers help in doing so - otherwise risk them leaving! So what can you do to promote employee mental health? Here are just a couple of ideas:

  • Take the time to understand the impacts of mental health: make sure that you are well-versed on mental health in the workplace before you implement any strategies. This is where some formal mental health training for management on a company-wide basis could be really handy!
  • Talk the talk: prioritise your own mental health and let your employees know how you are doing so. Lead by example and your employees may follow!
  • Encourage employees to take time off: some employees may get FOMOOW (fear of missing out on work), so let them know they can take time off when they need and that they can be covered for.
  • Conduct regular check-ins: an open conversation regarding mental health can do wonders! Many employees (and people in general) still feel embarrassed or ashamed when discussing their own mental health and by opening up the conversation on a regular basis, it may give them the courage to discuss mental health and let you know what they need from you. 
  • Arrange events: Work doesn’t always have to be about work! Arrange little non-work related activities (like long company lunches or outings) from time to time. 


Examine the workplace culture

This one could have been added into the mental health section, but it really warrants its own point. Workplace culture can be the biggest deterrent for new hires and a major reason as to why employees want to leave. Take a look around and ask yourself: is this working environment toxic? Is this working environment inclusive and diverse? Are my employees happy? You might not be able to answer this question by yourself, so you might want to conduct some employee engagement and/or workplace culture surveys (take a look at People Central for help with culture surveys!)


Development/promotion opportunities

The main reason why employees are leaving their jobs is a lack of developmental or promotional opportunities. So a great way to encourage people to stay is by making sure your team knows they have opportunities to grow at your company. Even if it is by providing easy access to courses and webinars (and maybe even incentives for completion) so your team can upskill, or by considering hiring from within wherever practical. Just by being open to offering opportunities for your team to grow and rise through the ranks, you may inspire more loyalty!


And if all else fails….


Ask them

Now this can go hand in hand with providing engagement and culture surveys, but this is more about directly talking to your team (particularly those who may be - or are already - planning their exit). Ask your team why they want to leave and what would persuade them to stay. Maybe you can’t make that particular worker stay, but it will give you insights into what some of your other employees may be thinking and feeling and how you can possibly increase employee retention rates.


Whether or not ‘the Great Resignation’ has hit your company, you need to be prepared for it and be open to putting in place some employee retention strategies that really work.

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