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The great resignation

Article by Sue Blight

Why are so many people feeling so restless nowadays? I have noticed that friends are feeling that there is more to life than 9-5 and are itching for significant change in their lives, whether moving out of cities, looking for greater work flexibility or creating more meaning for themselves. Increasingly Business clients are asking for more help in developing strategies to retain their staff in the face of mounting demands. Are we facing a new wave of uncertainty around retention?

Clearly the signs are in front of us. The pandemic has thrown up issues that have been simmering beneath the surface for a while. Working from home, previously granted in exceptional circumstances, has now become normalised and there is more anxiety coming into the office. Evidence suggests that for many organisations productivity has not been affected, and in some cases increased. Counter that with businesses wanting to bring staff back to the office to build teams and release creativity.

Pressure from the government to revive city centres and breathe life back into dormant towns. Recently Jacob Rhys Mogg issued attendance tables for each civil service department in a bid to galvanise cabinet ministers into action. Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, added support by saying “It is simply unacceptable for so many of our public servants to continue sitting at home.”

Are we witnessing a re-writing of the psychological contract between employer and employee? Specifically, the balance of power has shifted in many industries away from the employer towards the employee – they are voting with their feet. Statistics prove this: –

  • UK labour force survey – over one million people changed roles in the same industry between July and September 2021
  • Ranstad survey – 69% of people are confident about finding a new role

This has resulted in headlines such as ’The great resignation’ and provided energy in organisations to focus on retention. These include:

  • Strengthening the employee journey from attraction to onboarding
  • Reviews of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Developing new policies related to hybrid working and the value of diversity and inclusion
  • Investment in leadership development, especially concerning empathetic conversations, diversity and inclusion and building psychological safety – aimed at creating meaningful leadership conversations. This is supported by engagement surveys which identify how pivotal the line manager/employee relationship is to retention
  • Creating new purpose which people can connect with, shifting with the current themes of sustainability, environment, and compelling values.

I leave you with this consideration: “What actions are your organisation taking to retain your valued staff?”

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    Sue is an experienced and commercially focused HR professional specialising in leadership development, talent management and assessment. A breadth of experience in retail (Sears Group) manufacturing (Dairy Crest) and travel (First Choice Holidays and BAA). Her specialist areas of expertise are in Talent Development, Executive Coaching and Organisational and Leadership Development Skills.

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