Victoria Sterman
Victoria Sterman

A guide to battling the great resignation

The new marketing and PR team at Resource, from November
The new marketing and PR team at Resource, from November

Jewish-led companies and communal organisations pride themselves on job loyalty and employee satisfaction. However, as what has been termed the “Great Resignation” takes hold, there is no room for any employer to be complacent – no matter the sector.

Employees are showing a willingness to leave employers who fail to meet their expectations across the board: in the three-month period prior to September 2021, an all-time high of 400,000 employees in the UK resigned from their jobs, and nearly 25% of UK employees are planning on imminently leaving their current role. However, as with any crisis, the Great Resignation provides those who are willing to adapt to the shifting landscape and embrace forward-thinking approaches with a rare opportunity to capitalise on a highly volatile job market.

What steps can employers take to not only stem the flow of top talent leaving their organisation, but benefit from the Great Resignation in 2022?

Firstly, consider the flexibility they offer their staff.  Unlike working from a fixed place – whether from home or the office – a hybrid working option has become highly coveted since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing employees to work from a variety of locations. Modern technologies such as videoconferencing and digital whiteboards have prompted organisations to re-evaluate their previously held belief that staff need to be in the office to be effective at their job. By providing a genuine choice to employees over where they work, companies can convey the sense of trust employees seek from their employers while enabling them to have more control over their work and home life. Hybrid working has become so important for some that a YouGov poll recently found that 51%of those who currently have a hybrid working system would leave their job if it were scrapped. The need to provide flexibility in 2022 will not only be restricted to the physical location employees work from, but is also be expected to challenge other traditional workplace norms. This can already be seen in practice, with companies such as Atom Bank, Microsoft and Unilever all trialling a four-day week with no pay reduction to provide greater flexibility in working hours and patterns.

Effective communication is essential to the success of any relationship. Fostering a work environment that prides itself on open dialogue and trust between managers and employees, particularly with respect to their views on how and where employees want to work, will be crucial in the year ahead. Weekly employee engagement surveys on platforms such as Work Buzz and Office Vibe are an excellent way to gauge the mood in the workplace in real time, helping managers spot signs of overwork and identify opportunities to improve employee wellbeing. Such surveys also go a long way towards demonstrating to employees that their opinion is important to the organisation – in turn, building trust and respect in their leaders.

Organisations can do much to promote their strong culture, and The World Economic Forum has pinpointed values, supportive leaders, shared behaviours and beliefs as being key to helping organisations retain their top talent. The challenge in today’s hybrid and digital climate is how to build such a culture while so many people are working remotely. It’s become all too easy to lose the sense of belonging to an organisation, and managers need to work hard to bring their staff into the fold and keep them engaged. Employees today are looking for genuine efforts rather than empty gestures or quick fixes from their employers. Thoughtful remote experiences, organised in-person activities, meaningful and regular interactions with company leaders, as well as investment in the professional and personal development of employees will result in a positive culture predicated on teamwork and shared purpose. Moreover, it will create a sense of community and ensure employees feel valued and invested in seeing the business or organisation thrive.

While a far greater emphasis needs to be placed on employee wellbeing and creating a nurturing and open workplace community, remuneration is still key when it comes to securing top talent. As in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if employees feel that they aren’t receiving a competitive pay and benefits package, they will inevitability look to have that basic need met elsewhere. While this might seem obvious, a recent survey of 6000 UK employeesfound that while 72% of white collar professionals expect a pay rise this year, only 28% of businesses (out of 500 surveyed) plan on providing one. This gap in expectations needs to be bridged quickly, no matter what industry you operate in. It is therefore no coincidence that Jewish Care and more than a dozen Jewish communal organisations, including several synagogues, have committed to paying Living Wage to all employees, in addition to other efforts to ensure employee satisfaction and loyalty.

It would be a mistake to think that the Great Resignation isn’t real, or that it may not become yet more pronouncedin 2022. Employers who strive to understand why employees are leaving organisations, and then invest time and energy into finding out what will make them stay, will be the winners – reducing attrition, keeping morale high and saving themselves time and money along the journey.

About the Author
Victoria is CEO of Resource, a Jewish community employment advice centre