The Great Resignation is a term we have heard in the news, but what does it really mean for employers? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November of 2021, which represented a continued trend from earlier months and indicates a seismic shift in the labor market, where young professionals are leaving companies in droves for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to better pay, improved culture, flexibility and options to work from home.
The most impacted group of people are young professionals aged 30 to 45 years old, who are in the middle of their careers, according to the Harvard Business Review. The resignation rate in this group jumped over 20% from 2020 to 2021.
What the Great Resignation Means for Employers
The Work Institute, an industry leading workforce research firm, published a comprehensive study on employee retention and estimates that the cost of turnover is about 33% of an employee’s annual salary. This is a major cost to employers and makes keeping your employees happy more important than ever.
Employers will need to adapt in order to retain their best talent. This is your best chance to maintain smooth business operations, keep overall moral high and ensure that your team continues to perform at their best.
Lean into Remote Work
Employees are looking to balance their work with other aspects of their life. Their physical health, spiritual wellness and personal relationships are key areas that help a person live a full life. Balancing many aspects of wellbeing is key to living a fulfilling life, and so embracing remote work actually aligns with the Full Life Framework, a framework that I’ve come up with to help people live life to the fullest.
Shifting away from commuting has given time back to workers and has benefited everyone significantly by allowing people to balance their work with other non-work activities and commitments. You are able to spend more time with your family, and have more time to spend on hobbies, exercise and other pursuits that bring you joy.
The reduction of commuting has also reduced the cost to the employee and given back some budget flexibility, without the expense of transportation, restaurant meals and work clothing.
Physical comfort is another reason why workers appreciate the opportunity to work from home. People have the opportunity to customize their workspace to meet their individual needs. They can control the temperature, setup of their desk and physical surroundings. Generally, they will also select more comfortable clothing, and aren’t constrained to the restrictive, uncomfortable formal outfits.
Alao, people no longer drop by your desk for extended chats and non-productive activity. It becomes easier to focus in the absence the busy background noise of an office environment.
Increased productivity and better balance between work and personal life has positively impacted worker’s mental health and resulted in a reduction in overall reduction in stress levels. With this in mind, embracing remote work and doing it right is the best way forward.
How Can You Optimize Remote Work?
With remote work being the best way forward, we need to make sure that it works for both employers and their workers. There are important culture and process changes that employers need to navigate to be successful.
1. Ditch the Old Management Mindset
Leadership within a successful remote environment must be done right from the top down. Leaders need to feel comfortable empowering their teams to get their work done, without micromanaging. If we don’t manage our teams like this, we have the potential of causing them unnecessary stress. Avoiding micromanaging allows us to leverage ours and our employees talents and expertise.
Delegation is an important trait of a good leader, as it allows the employee the opportunity to potentially stretch themselves and giving them ownership over the work will improve their satisfaction with their work. If micromanagement was or is part of the culture, this is the most important, and often the most challenging change in the way a team operates.
Learn more about how to delegate in my other article How to Start Delegating Tasks Effectively (Step-by-Step Guide).
Manage by Output
I’ve learned from Andrew S. Grove’s book High Output Management the importance of identifying vital and measurable output. Teams should be measured by their results, instead of hours spent working. Encouraging a culture of productivity means focusing on output over hours spent working on something. Said another way, workers are no longer rewarded for longer hours, but rewarded for meeting your objectives.
Embrace Asynchronous Work
Asynchronous work means not requiring all team members to be online simultaneously. At Lifehack, we embrace asynchronous work. All team members can work productively without having to wait for others to complete a task. The key to asynchronous work is trusting your capable employees and allowing them to work autonomously.
2. Adjust Training Delivery
Training your employees in a remote environment is still important Before today’s work from home, our workforce would navigate a new role or new responsibilities with limited guidance and we could get away with little available training. Workers would absorb their jobs through working with various groups in the office.
With a remote environment, we no longer have this structure and have to pay close attention to how we train our workers. We need to build out specific training objectives and be mindful to document training goals in a clear, easy to follow format.
Online courses become more important than ever as the preferred training delivery method to scale training well. Courses should be supplemented with robust materials, SOPs, guides and FAQs. There are different levels of available Learning Management Systems (LMS) available on the market today, which allow you to build, manage and deliver learning content. Some platforms will simply host your learning content, whereas others will be robust enough to track and measure completion. Available budget and internal resources to manage these programs will drive what you choose for your organization.
An important note around learning content – it is important that you put a robust review in place in a remote environment. Gone are the days where training is built but never used, or allowed to go out of date. For success in a virtual environment, training must be accessible, relevant and up-to-date.
Another great format for learning are Resource groups. These are typically employee led, and focused on some form of learning, knowledge sharing or social topic, like diversity and inclusion as an example. These groups are a great way to encourage learning and social interaction.
3. Check in With Your Co-Workers
It’s also important to continue to keep in touch with employees during remote work. Technology is the best way to do this, allowing everyone to stay connected via messaging apps and video calling platforms. Great teamwork can still happen in the virtual world, with so many collaboration tools to choose from. For example, Basecamp is our team’s go-to tool for project management and communication.
Encourage workers to put time in the calendar for connecting with other employees. It’s okay to meet occasionally to catch-up with each other.
Keeping a watchful eye on employee productivity is important as well. While the majority of workers have demonstrated their high level of productivity while working from home during the pandemic, you may still encounter exceptions to this rule. Some workers may struggle with keeping focused, without the motivation of an in-person environment. Ensure your leaders continues to check in, provide the necessary support to these individuals and help them continue to transition to successful remote work if needed.
With some workers struggling with staying motivated, try to encourage them to practice good self-management. Having them establish a good routine will be key to helping them manage their newfound flexibility.
4. Be Mindful of Employees’ Mental Health
The increased productivity we will see in a remote environment must not come at the expense of employee moral, or workers’ individual mental health. Working remotely does shift the way we interact with one another, as we lose the connection we would have in person.
We must be aware of this risk and put steps in place to help manage it. Virtual social gatherings during work hours are a great way to help keep your employees spirits up. Be sure to schedule these during company operating hours, wherever possible, to show the importance of these types of events. A great way to facilitate these types of events is to combine learning and social activity, so they are fun but also productive.
5. Hire Talents from Around the World
In addition to the great benefits of embracing a remote work environment for your current organization, there are some addition benefits to consider for future team members. Building out a remote work structure will allow you access to a wider pool of talent for roles across your organization. You will no longer be limited to the talent pool located near your headquarters and can bring talented employees into the organization from around the globe.
Offering remote work will also become part of the overall benefits offered at your company and can stack up against companies who have not adapted to this new reality. Working from home has become an in-demand benefit for many talented workers.
Will the Great Resignation Continue?
The Great Resignation isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. It will continue if companies are unable to adapt to the remote work environment and workers have more options available to them with potential employers who are willing to make a change.
Some industries and company structures won’t be able to make the change as easily as others and may experience more challenges adopting a remote work structure. Many companies may still try to use in-person ways of working in a remote environment and still struggles with things running smoothly. Technology barriers and the need to meet in person will exist is some industries.
With a shift in mindset, an adjusted outlook from your leaders, you too can navigate this new reality and thrive. It’s possible to make the future of flexible, output driven work a win for both the employer and the employee.
Featured photo credit: Laura Davidson via unsplash.com