Tag: Great Resignation

By Serah Louis for Yahoo! Finance

It’s been over a year since the American workplace turned upside down, with employees quitting en masse in search of more fulfilling jobs and flexible work arrangements.

But as inflation hits a 40-year high, stragglers have found yet another convincing reason to jump ship.

“It’s a worker’s market,” says Andrew Flowers, labor economist at job advertisement firm Appcast. “And this bargaining power, it means that, with high inflation, this is the time to either ask for a raise or to potentially find a better offer elsewhere.”

Another 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in April, the latest numbers show, nearly unchanged from the month before and still among the highest levels in decades.

While job vacancies decreased, there remain almost two jobs available for every worker who’s looking.

With the rising cost of food, gas and everything else giving all Americans a pay cut, workers who haven’t yet made a move have every reason — and every opportunity — to act soon.

The window remains open for now

The consumer price index surged to a spectacular 8.6% in May from a year earlier, putting pressure on workers who would otherwise be happy with the status quo.

Globally, one in five employees is likely to switch jobs in the next year, with most leaving for a better salary, according to a recent survey by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Over a third are planning to ask for a raise in the next year, though that number is significantly higher in the tech sector (44%) and lower in the public sector (25%).

“Employers know that quit rates are high. They know that job openings are plentiful. And so they know their employees can be choosier,” Flowers says.

The added pressure of rising prices means employers may consider proactively hiking wages to avoid losing employees. Wages and salaries in the private sector increased by 5% for the 12-month period ending in March.

“Employers have a really insatiable appetite at the moment to hire,” Flowers says.

However, he adds, it’s unclear how long the labor market will remain so tight, especially as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to cool off the economy.

How to go about asking for a raise

Whether or not it’s a good time for you to request a raise can really depend on your industry and whether your organisation is thriving, says Chelsea Jay, a career coach based in Lansing, Michigan.

The accommodation and food services and leisure and hospitality sectors have seen the highest quit rates, reports Harvard Business Review, while retail and non-durable manufacturing industries have experienced the most growth in their quit rates. Workers in professional and business services are also leaving in droves.

Flowers says it’s fair to bring up rising prices when asking for a raise, though Jay argues that shouldn’t be the focus of the conversation.

“You can talk about inflation — but more than inflation, I encourage professionals to talk about their skill set and what they have brought to the organization,” says Jay.

She recommends talking to your coworkers about your salaries and doing research within your company, industry, city, state and career level. It’s also a good idea to look into when your company typically gives out raises and bring an estimate to the table at that time.

Nearly half of workers who tried to renegotiate their salary last year were successful, a survey by the job search site FlexJobs found.

What if you can’t get a raise?

If your request is denied, consider renegotiating your benefits. You can look into a hybrid working arrangement or more paid time off, or ask your employer to pay for a professional development opportunity, like a certification course.

That said, Jay warns against relying on short-term handouts, like retention bonuses.

“It’s a Band-Aid to cover up the bigger issue,” she says. “Companies don’t give bonuses every single year. So if you are not happy with your salary, either you need to get a raise from them, or you need to move on to a company that is willing to pay you right.”

She adds that everyone’s priorities are different, and you need to determine what’s most important to you if you decide to seek work elsewhere. In your interview with a potential employer, ask about the company culture, leadership, expectations of your role and the benefits and perks you’re interested in.

“Don’t settle. You’re in a time where you do not have to settle anymore,” she says.

What can employers do to retain talent?

Employers may see higher retention when they promote from within, Flowers emphasises.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to leave this job and get a 10% raise elsewhere.’ But if a worker sees that they have a future and that they can move up the ladder through internal mobility … then maybe they won’t just go take the highest offer.”

Jay also advises employers to give quitting employees the space to be transparent about why they’re leaving in their exit interviews.

It’s important that companies actively respond to feedback by implementing new policies and making changes to avoid losing even more workers in the future.

“[The Great Resignation] really shone a light on the issues that corporate America and these companies are having when it comes to the way that they treat their employees and how they show value and how they show respect,” says Jay.

“So if anything, what it did for a lot of companies was made them realise, hey, we’re slipping in these areas. We need to step our game up here.”

 

It seems counterintuitive that a mass resignation trend would coincide with a global pandemic but the so-called “Great Resignation” is set to become one of the key economic features, or effects, of Covid-19. Referring to the phenomenon whereby people are voluntarily quitting their jobs en masse, the Great Resignation raises many pertinent questions about the value and nature of work, and deserves to be interrogated as both an economic and social occurrence.

The trend began in the United States in 2021 but quickly spread to many other parts of the world. In South Africa too, there have now been numerous reports of a similar trend emerging as employees re-evaluate their personal and professional priorities in the wake of the pandemic.

Important to note is that this trend appears to be limited to skilled employees – a contingent who typically have the skills, experience and resources that allow them more career options and flexibility around, for example, working hours. Equally significant to note is that more and more experts and commentators are calling it the “great reset” and suggesting the trend be viewed as an opportunity for workers to better align their skills and expertise with their personal goals and values, and for companies to take a more robust and streamlined approach to the skills they hire for.

A Harvard Business Review article on the topic recommends that companies “get on the same page with employees by reconceptualising what it means to be part of their organisation”. Experts from three industries share their views around an effective reset.

Reset with a hybrid workplace model

David Seinker, founder and CEO of serviced office space offering, The Business Exchange, has been championing hybrid work models since long before the pandemic accelerated the adoption of alternative work models. He believes the Great Resignation too is an opportunity for us to reevaluate the nature and nuances of skilled work and to make the necessary adjustments to benefit both employees and employers.

“For some two years now, employees have proven that work can happen independently of a specific location and set working hours, which means that the office is now viewed as a destination rather than the default. Companies can’t afford to mandate employees to simply go back to the office in the traditional 9 to 5 sense without considering how experiences of the physical working environment contribute to employees’ job satisfaction,” he shares.

Seinker explains that hybrid work models offer a best-of-both approach that the post-pandemic employee is likely to insist on and businesses concerned about retaining talent need to at the very least consider more flexible working arrangements.

Reset with a robust working environment, dynamic opportunities

“Talent retention, particularly in the creative industries, has been a challenge for a while now, which is why we’ve been committed to exploring ways to ensure we can offer the best people the best working environment, whether that be on a permanent or freelance basis, where the emphasis is on harnessing their unique skills and expertise in a way that satisfies their professional goals as much as it does our needs,” says Reagen Kok, CEO of Hoorah Digital.

Interestingly, research by the Boston Consulting Group Johannesburg has found that money alone isn’t the only thing that attracts tech and digital talent in Africa, but that the “right workplace culture and values, and the learning and skills training they offer” still plays an important role in employee retention.

Kok shares that, in his experience, highly skilled and talented people are seeking more dynamic opportunities that align with their personal values. “The pandemic forced many of us to deeply reevaluate how we spend our time and we’re taking the steps to ensure there is more alignment between what we want from life and what we’re doing at work. Our role as employers is to step up and meet employees somewhere along this journey, or risk losing them to the companies who are.”

Reset to become more people-focussed, lead with empathy

A reset necessitates the prioritisation of the human before the employee, acknowledging that workers are people before they are talent, skills or resources. And humans thrive in trusting, empathetic environments.

This is something that is high on the agenda for public relations and integrated marketing agency Irvine Partners, who remain committed to building trust and leading with empathy as some of the ways it seeks to mitigate the potential impact of the Great Resignation. Listening to employees’ expectations, whether through formal or informal channels, is key. “Employees want — and deserve — to feel heard, acknowledged and recognised. Operating from the point of view that your employees are your most valuable resource is imperative, and needs to underpin the company culture at large. As an example, this year we hired a senior team member who left a major agency because they refused to even consider remote working. He was spending hours a day in traffic and his employer didn’t see anything wrong with that. Even if they’d met him halfway with a hybrid, he would’ve stayed. They lost a talented and hard-working team member as a result. While all companies have different realities, there is always a middle ground,” says Hayley van der Woude, MD. She adds that it is the leaders in the organisation who need to drive an empathetic focus on people.

Writing in Business Day, Johann van Niekerk, MD of Outsized for Africa, says that those companies who see the great resignation as the great reset and adjust their strategies accordingly, “could increase the range of available skills and therefore the company’s competitiveness and output”.

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