**Published originally in the Corporate Wellness Magazine**
Nearly two years after the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, it has left an indelible mark on our planet as we all adapt to changes it has forced on us. While the world scampers for respite from the deadly virus, the pandemic is disrupting the workplace in ways no one saw coming.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, between April and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million workers resigned from their jobs. In April alone, more than 4 million workers, or 2.7 percent of the workforce quit, the highest rate since 2000. The same number quit in July, and the trend is not abating soon: A survey of more than 30,000 workers by Microsoft found that 41 percent are considering quitting soon. Gallup found that about 48 percent of employees are actively searching for new opportunities, and many of them say they’ll make this change within the next six months.
Employers are seeing a massive resignation of workers, in what has been aptly termed the Great Resignation. Workers are leaving their jobs in masse in search of other things that truly define happiness for them. No longer willing to chase tight deadlines and small paychecks at the detriment of their health and happiness, millions of employees are taking the big decision of calling it quits and never looking back.
But how do you re-recruit these employees, whose minds are practically made-up?
It all boils down to workplace culture. The central theme behind this massive shift is an inadequate and work-centered workplace culture that had robbed employees of their joy and fulfillment in the job for decades. It’s time for employers to pivot the workplace culture to a human-first model, one that prioritizes the worker over the work, and one that develops and cares for the worker instead of focusing on the work.
Revisit your work culture
Employees now desire a workplace that prioritizes their health; not just their physical health, but also financial, emotional, and mental health. Workers faced the most stressful time during the pandemic with loss of loved ones, financial stress, and heightened anxiety and depression — and workers don’t want any more stress from their employers.
As a result, workers place a lot more emphasis on the work culture, and an employer’s mental, physical, and financial wellness policies and practices before even considering an offer.
What plans have you communicated to your employees regarding mental health support? What policy changes have been made to employee benefits and compensations in your organization? How will you address workplace stress going forward? How inclusive and diverse are your workforce?
These are the key post-pandemic metrics for the workplace, and these disruptions require major policy changes and changes to your organizational value system to rebuild your company into one that places value on the overall wellbeing of the employee. Consequently, you may need to revisit your corporate wellness strategies, financial wellness initiatives, and the role of your employee assistance programs.
Engage your workers in an effective feedback loop to know what they need and what solutions work for them, and infuse these solutions into the fabric of your organization. One organization helping companies improve their policies, reimagine their corporate culture and better align the company’s values and employee benefits to what employees need today is Global Healthcare Accreditation, the first accreditation body to validate an organization’s commitment to employee health, safety and well-being as well as validate their policies.
GHA believes through better policies, more transparency, and better benefits, companies will have improved productivity and profits and not suffer as much from the great resignation.
Offer more training and mentorship
One of the common drivers of workplace stress has always been inadequate skills or training to meet job descriptions. In fact, many workers are not given job tasks they are particularly good at or best suited for but are fixed at job posts for which they have little or no training. The Great Resignation is clearly demonstrating how this mismatch is pushing workers to find their “dream jobs”
At Black Hills Corp, an energy company, the HR team is revisiting employee training and skill development. The organization has recently invested heavily in covering tuition, relocation costs, and mentoring for call center workers interested in becoming gas operations technicians or line mechanics. The company says it is now focusing on “re-recruiting” their existing employees to do what they love rather than focusing on solely hiring new talent.
Similarly, Sanofi, global life sciences company, has also expanded on-the-job training, coaching, and mentoring opportunities to its workers to improve their skills and boost the value they bring to the company. The company has also launched new short-term “gig”-like assignments to allow their workers to expand their horizons and develop more skills.
Integrate tech solutions
Many workers are overwhelmed by how much routine work they handle that can be automated. Identify areas of work that can be safely automated to free up man-hours and energy for other tasks.
A survey at Providence Health System found that 30 percent of nurses’ time was spent on administrative work and it was driving burnout among the nursing staff. Automating some of these tasks not only allows nurses to deliver healthcare services more efficiently, but also lowers costs and improves employee retention.
Black Hills is also evaluating its automation pilot program to identify areas where automation will drive efficiency and employee retention.
Safeguard employee health
Safety is the new watchword in the corporate circle. Employees are now more attracted to dynamic organizations that place priority on their health and wellbeing. Many workplaces are aggressively embedding COVID-19 safety strategies in their office buildings to mitigate COVID-19 transmission and keep their workers safe, especially with the emergence of Omicron and other variants.
Global Healthcare Accreditation’s newly launched GHA For Business provides organizations a streamlined, easy-to-use framework and accreditation program designed for any organization looking to validate its commitment to safety, health, and well-being while at the same time building a more resilient corporate culture to prepare for any health risk in the future.
GHA believes that if employees feel safe and have a focus on their well-being and health then everyone wins. Future employees want to work for great companies that are socially responsible. Obtaining the GHA For Business Accreditation and seal helps companies to communicate this message more authentically.
The guidelines and implementation guidance provide a unique and fresh perspective on realigning benefits to a greater corporate purpose, mission, and values around well-being expected in this evolving environment.
The pandemic has led to a paradigm shift in the corporate world. There are now more job positions but fewer employees to fill in these vacancies, no thanks to a great awakening by employees following many years of enduring a dysfunctional work culture. Now, HR leaders must identify and address the needs of employees to re-recruit them or get swallowed up in the Great Resignation.