‘Great Resignation’ offers a one off opportunity to rethink our relationship with work

great resignationAfter nearly two turbulent years, which for many knowledge workers have been dominated by a ground-hog day like existence, people are looking for change. This is only natural as workers around the world are re-evaluating their priorities, reigniting their passions, or simply looking for something new. This has led to a mini-exodus from businesses, which is now being dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’.

For organisations, finding great talent takes time, and losing great talent hurts. And the ‘Great Resignation’ is far from over – with 57 percent of global knowledge workers open to looking for a new job in the next year, companies that dismiss employee preferences risk losing even more top talent.

Reflecting on this time and in light of employees demanding new ways of working, the question on many leaders’ minds is: What do workers want and where do their priorities lie?


So, what do workers want?

Amidst a year with record numbers of job vacancies, it’s well and truly a candidate’s market. When it comes to retaining or securing talent, one thing is clear: The old ‘rules’ of work simply won’t cut it.

To attract and retain talent, organisations must reevaluate what ‘good management’ means to them. Business leaders need to move away from ‘one-size-fits-all’ practices and policies and take the time to understand individual employees and their needs by regular pulse checks. Frequent, informal check-ins over a video call or a direct message will help leaders understand employee goals, the barriers they’re facing to success, and act as a temperature-check on their team’s overall wellbeing.

While each employee has different needs, workers en-masse have made it clear that flexibility in where and when they work is a priority for them. In fact, UK knowledge workers are the most likely globally to desire flexibility around where they work. The 9-to-5, office-centric template no longer suits the majority and flexible work helps retain employees who need to shape work around life in new ways.

Managers should meanwhile use this changing world to rethink priorities. For example, moving from monitoring traditional productivity input—such as hours logged—to measuring outcomes, such as increased customer satisfaction and employee engagement and experience. This helps build a business around what matters most, leading to a more engaging and rewarding experience for employees.

Executives must recognise flexibility, in both where and when work gets done, and ensuring that work itself is satisfying, are both key to building competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent in the period of the ‘Great Resignation’.


Hybrid work and creating great employee experiences

For a long time, it was thought the office was the only place where work happened and where culture was created. Over the past two years we’ve busted these myths and shown that employees can be productive and engaged working from anywhere. However, it’s true that while working from home we lost opportunities for chance encounters in the office, and hundreds of little, one-minute connections were gone, hindering the belonging created when we’re connected with co-workers.

Technology has a major role to play in overcoming these hurdles. To maintain employee experience in the hybrid workforce, it’s important for managers to schedule one-on-one calls and hold more relaxed team meetings, so employees feel heard.

Outside of work, leaders should plan events or activities (with virtual options always available) that enable everyone to connect on a more personal level. These interactions are pivotal for employees to see a little humanity from each other outside of work.

In short, hybrid working requires a more intentional approach to culture. And that approach requires investment from the top of the business.

Culture Amp, a leading employee experience and analytics platform that helps leadership reduce turnover, uses technology to prioritise its own culture, connect a global community and maintain organisational alignment. This starts at the very top with founder and CEO Didier Elzinga, who has a #ceo channel on Slack where he answers questions transparently, creating an instant connection between leadership and the whole organisation.

‘Amplify others’ is a Culture Amp value that message-based collaboration helps to facilitate. By creating a dedicated channel called #all-camper_yays, campers celebrate promotions, birthdays and other good news. They even have a custom bot that reacts to the words “props” or “mad props” to easily share praise and showcase appreciation for teammates.


Lessons on diversity

Creating a positive employee experience and a successful business also means creating a culture that boosts and champions diversity. While we must recognise this is vital for reasons that go well beyond corporate success, it’s also true that diverse teams consistently outperform their homogeneous counterparts.

When thinking about the impact of flexible policies, we should also bear in mind that people of colour, women and working parents experience greater feelings of belonging working remotely and express a strong preference for flexible work.

In short, going virtual levels the playing field and gives those who aren’t able to make it to the office, or feel less comfortable doing so, the opportunity to belong. In turn, organisations have access to a wider talent pool and a workforce that is both more diverse, engaged and productive.


Avoiding another ‘Great Resignation’

Executives must use the Great Resignation as an urgent wake-up call. More must be done to redesign workplaces so that they can attract, empower and retain the best, and most diverse, talent.

The process and end result will look different for every company. Yet, managers who measure performance based on outcomes over activity, listen to employee preferences and build social connections within and across diverse teams will be able to unlock the full potential of their organisations. That means a happy, engaged and retained team for the future.