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Aussies could start quitting: 5 ways to keep your best employees

·Finance reporter
·6-min read
Two women walk through open plan office, talking.
Scared your staff are about to resign? Here's what you need to know. (Source: Getty)

As corporate Australia frets over whether the Great Resignation will reach our shores in the coming months, many businesses are already planning for how they might handle the exodus of key staff members.

As a recent report from leading consulting firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) indicated, “38 per cent of Australians plan to leave their current employer during the next year”.

Although job mobility isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s still way above the 8.1 per cent the Australian Bureau of Statistics projected was the case in the year to February 2020 (ie. pre-COVID).

This fear of losing key employees in the next 12 months is driving many progressive organisations to reasses their Employee Value Proposition (EVP), as they scramble to figure out what employees really want in the post-COVID job market.

The good news from the PwC report is that a significant portion (55 per cent) of those employees surveyed had a strong intent to stay in their current role, so now could be a good time to update your organisation’s EVP to ensure retention is maximised.

Here are five tips to help you do that:

1. Promote employee wellbeing

It’s been a challenging time for Australian workers over the past 18 months, with working from home and uncertainty creating challenges most have not encountered before.

Therefore, it’s perhaps not surprising that 22 per cent of employees in the PwC survey said they would leave their job this year due to “wellbeing factors”, second only to perennial favourite “remuneration” (28 per cent).

Workplace expert and medical doctor, Elizabeth Berryman, founder and director of chnnl, a platform which is described as "helping to transform workplaces, teams and individuals through the power of psychological safety" told Yahoo Finance about how companies can do this.

“Companies should embrace the new world of work and rewrite the ‘rules’ with both employee wellbeing and high performance in mind," Dr Berryman said.

“This includes providing a safe place for people to speak up and leaders taking action to ensure employees are seen, heard, and valued.”

It’s interesting that Dr Berryman mentions how leaders need to embrace this concept and “take action”. Employees are likely to feel more valued if that message is coming from the very top down.

2. Invest in your culture

Many will tell you the people they work with are a big part of their working experience and, according to PwC, 16 per cent would consider leaving for this reason (the third most popular response).

Therefore, it’s important for organisations to ensure they are clear about the culture they are trying to create. Encouraging both formal and informal networks within the workplace can make sure everyone is on the same page.

Add in a commitment to diversity and inclusion, which is of particular importance for many millennials, and you have a recipe for success.

3. Find new ways of working

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and adoption of this has been accelerated during the pandemic.

Workers (particularly the younger generations) want access to tools that will make their role easier and more productive, so exploring how you can enable this is likely to pay dividends.

It’s not just about technology though. Ensuring these tools are set up from day one sets a great example.

In addition, allowing time in their working week for both autonomy and collaboration is likely to create a good balance for your employees.

Flexibility is the key here - being open to staff working when it’s most convenient for them - within reason - as well as creating processes that streamline their duties - and increase productivity - are certain to be appreciated.

4. Consider offering hybrid working

As we reported recently, most employees have become used to working from home in recent times, and many are not yet ready to return to the office full time.

There seems to be a trend within corporate Australia towards accommodating this desire - check out how many Seek ads are now offering hybrid or even fully remote roles, even from day one.

To be able to attract and, perhaps more importantly, keep quality staff, employees should be looking to formalise working-from-home policies across the organisation.

It’s not always possible to offer this for some roles – retail workers for example – but those in office environments are likely to expect some form of hybrid working practices as we move into 2022.

Equally, when workers are asked to come into the office, look at investing in more collaborative working spaces for them to communicate with their colleagues.

It’s likely they are there for that very reason, since they can perform their other duties remotely.

5. Forward plan for career development

This concept is nothing new for most employers, but it still ranks fifth out of the seven key reasons employees may leave their role next year, according to PwC.

Tried and trusted methods of learning and development will continue to be important in engaging workers, yet many organisations still don’t utilise a formal career-development plan for each staff member.

Doing so shows a commitment to ongoing professional development, as well as helping businesses identify their leaders of the future.

Considering the use of secondments to different departments will broaden your employees’ knowledge of your business, allowing them to learn new skills and keep their working experience fresh.

Introducing a mentoring scheme is also valued by younger employees, because it gives them access to the intellectual capacity already in the business in a stimulating way.

We’ve deliberately left out two of the seven pointers highlighted in the PwC report - remuneration and brand – as not every business can pay the highest salaries or have a big brand name that sells itself.

However, the five tips listed above are affordable for most, if not all, organisations in some form or other.

Finally, many business owners reading this may be thinking the above is just a wish-list for employees and doing everything just isn’t practical.

That may be the case, but we are already seeing skills shortages in the Australian job market, which means the worker is likely to have the upper hand for the foreseeable future.

The question business owners should be asking is: “Can our business risk alienating staff by not implementing some of these measures?”

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