Back to all news

The Great Resignation: ideas on how to combat it in your workplace

11 Feb 2022 | Lesson Desk Team4 min read

As the 2020 pandemic recedes, a new trend has been taking the globe by storm, and now this trend has been emerging in South Africa: The Great Resignation.

Millions of employees across the globe have been quitting their jobs, and no industry, geographic location or company is immune to this trend, especially in the technology and healthcare industries. A recent study found that staff turnover has increased by 16% across all sectors in South Africa, and many employees are actively searching for better opportunities.

Having to replace these employees is time-consuming, frustrating and expensive; replacing an employee can cost double the employee's salary.

Employee burnout, careers stalling, and shifting priorities are all factors contributing to employees leaving en masse. According to Harvard Business Review, the resignation rates are highest among employees between the ages of 30 and 45.

But what is causing this mass exodus? Remote working is at the top of the list; as employees are called back to the office following the pandemic, many are reconsidering their options.

However, remote working is not the only factor. Other factors include lack of workplace flexibility, employees not feeling valued or not having their needs met, and no space for career growth.

To avoid your employees contributing to this new trend, your company must understand why your employees want to leave and how you can make them stay. Here are six ways to combat the "Great Resignation" in your workplace:

1. Extend remote and flexible work options

You might have heard that flexibility is the new employment currency, and that's quite true. Since the Covid pandemic, working remotely has proved to employees that they don't need to work from the office to be productive. Recent studies found that 73% of employees indicated that they want flexible work options. and39% of employees would consider leaving their job if their employer was not open to remote working.

Some might miss socialising in person and are eager to return to the office, and others have no intention of ever returning to the workplace. For those employees who can perform their jobs anywhere, remote working options will be more feasible, but it can also embitter those who do not have the opportunity of remote working.

Employees are not interested in returning to a workplace that doesn't empower them to take control of their lives; they refuse to return to a system that prioritises the needs of their employers and not the employees. Therefore, you should create as much flexibility as possible. That way, employees will feel more empowered and make choices that support their well-being. Employees need to know that their well-being and self-care are important and that the company supports them.

The most desirable workplaces foster collaboration, empower employees and support employee well-being. Therefore, it is suggested that you talk to your employees and hear their thoughts about creating a hybrid work environment and their preferences.

It is important that you take the time to get to know your employees. By asking questions and listening to your employees' needs, you can help to manage your and their expectations.

2. Provide proper onboarding

The process of hiring and retaining employees has never been easy. Even today, the importance of onboarding is often underestimated because many companies fail to understand the impact of onboarding on new employees’ productivity levels.

However, a proper onboarding experience is essential. Not only does it familiarise new employees with their roles and responsibilities in the company, but it also informs them of the company’s policies and procedures.

Studies show that employees who receive proper onboarding are more engaged and committed to the company’s success; and when employees are engaged, they are less likely to leave the company. However, without proper onboarding, employee productivity decreases and employee turnover increases. Therefore, it is essential to have a proper onboarding programme.

3. Focus on employee well-being

At the height of the pandemic, employee well-being became a top priority. This was because many feared that the pandemic’s stress, anxiety, and isolation might lead to employee burnout.

To focus on your employees’ well-being, there are two things you should do:

3.1. Watch for burnout

Giving employees some time off and expecting them to take it when needed is not enough to curb employees feeling burnt-out and wanting to resign. Because travelling remains limited, many employees feel they don’t have an excuse to use the time typically set out for taking vacations. Others may feel that their work culture encourages “always-on” behaviour, making it difficult to unplug. Signs of employee burnout include exhaustion, absenteeism, irritability and depression. To avoid burnout, you should talk to your employees about the challenges they’re facing and try to find a road back to job satisfaction.

3.2. Boost employee morale

Morale boosters are essential to show employees that their well-being is a priority to you. Whether it is something small like a free lunch or treat, or perhaps a wellness session once a week, you should look for ways to show your employees that you appreciate them.

4. Listen to your employees’ needs

As an employer, it is important to listen to your employees’ needs. Since the pandemic, many employees have been re-evaluating their needs holistically.

As their employer, you need to listen to what they want. And you can do this by asking them and taking notes. Perhaps they require flexibility, or maybe they crave stability. Once you know what they are looking for, you should follow up with action steps. This will show that you are willing to collaborate with your employees to create a work environment that meets your team’s needs.

If your employees are not willing to be direct face-to-face, offer surveys to gauge contentment on the job. They know what they want and what will keep them on the job. Your job is to listen and accommodate, if possible.

5. Provide continuous employee training

The world is constantly evolving, which is why it is essential for employees to stay on top of their training. Providing your employees with training opportunities not only helps them acquire new skills and become better at their jobs, but they will also be able to succeed in other areas and positively contribute to your company.

Continuously upskilling your employees should be a priority in the workplace. To many employees, career growth is essential. In addition, employees want to be reassured that the company will invest in their career development and that there will be space for promotion and growth. Therefore, it is important that you actively share individual pathway plans with your employees.

Employee turnover is inevitable. However, the key to surviving the great resignation may be as easy as open communication. Employees hold a lot of the cards right now, and employers who fail to listen to their employees' concerns and implement changes stand to lose a lot of ground.