Why the Great Resignation isn’t the only threat to your people strategy

The Great Resignation is presenting a big challenge to many of the clients we talk to at Birdsoup. It’s proving more and more difficult to find good candidates and even when companies do that’s just the first hurdle, getting them to accept a job offer is not a foregone conclusion (we’re hearing successful candidates often have multiple offers to consider or want to continue interviewing elsewhere)

There continues to be a disconnect between some organisations seemingly desperate to get people back into the office and others embracing hybrid working. Obviously working remotely is not an option for all roles, but it is valued by employees. (A recent Lloyds Bank survey showed that hybrid working was the most important factor in driving employee loyalty)

There are a couple of other trends that may be contributing to the lack of available candidates.

ONS data shows that for the first time in 30 years there’s been a rise (5%) in women being out of the workforce in order to look after children, this is particularly prevalent for 25-34-year-old women. One of the major contributors to this trend is the cost of childcare in the UK – we have the second most expensive childcare in the OECD almost three times the average.

There’s also been an increase in early retirement since the pandemic an unexpected rise in over 50’s giving up work both men and women citing stress and anxiety or just not wanting to work anymore. Women are also retiring to take on caring responsibilities and many leaving the workforce due to the effects of menopause.

The increase in “work intensity” over the years has not led to an increase in productivity (in fact the UK lags its peers) What has increased are the levels of stress anxiety and burnout. People also cite not enjoying work (A recent Gallup survey found 60% of employees are emotionally detached) The results of the 4-day week pilot programme recently launched will be interesting and include metrics on productivity and wellbeing. 

Obviously, if companies are struggling to hire then the pressure on existing employees increases, creating a vicious cycle that may lead to more resignations. One of the first things to be sacrificed in cultures of overwork is training and development opportunities as the focus is elsewhere. 

Losing women at either the maternity transition or over fifty creates other challenges, a lack of women coming through to senior leadership and board-level positions, fewer female role models and a sense for other women within an organisation that their career progression is not straightforward or even possible. 

As well as trying to fill the gaps you may have within your organisation are you thinking about the following?

How you retain and develop your existing employees?

How to use development opportunities to attract talent.

Focusing on women as a growth group: how best to retain and support your female talent.

As the world of work changes it’s more important than ever to understand how to get the best from your people, how to retain and grow them as well as attract new talent.


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