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How to keep your head (and your staff) when all about you are losing theirs.

Recently, workers at a branch of Burger King in Nebraska decided enough was enough. As the Mail Online notes, general manager Rachel Flores had been working 60 hour weeks in a restaurant without air conditioning in the middle of summer. She had already been hospitalised through dehydration. When she quit, seven other members of staff walked out with her. On the sign outside, they put up a notice as they left: “We all quit. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Such events are not confined to the US, and they’re not confined to hospitality (although hospitality does appear to feature prominently). The Great Resignation, as economists have taken to calling it, is a legacy of the pandemic and it’s affecting countless sectors. In the health service, “nursing staff are leaving the profession and UK ‘for a better quality of life’” says Nursing Notes. In tech, the drive to upscale online services has driven record levels of burnout in the digital sector. “This isn’t normal, we are working ourselves senseless,” one person told The News Stack. And Fast Company notes a war on talent (or perhaps, more correctly, a war for talent), with staff shortages pushing up wages and encouraging employees to jump ship, especially in the manufacturing sector.

A Microsoft survey of 30,000 workers globally found 41% were considering a career change or quitting. A UK and Ireland survey put the figure at a not much more encouraging 38%.

Don’t walk away

The specific reasons employees are leaving varies from sector to sector, business to business, but in each case the common denominator appears to be employer actions. From the way a business supported its staff during the worst of the pandemic to the pressure of increasing workloads to expectations of returning to the office, in many cases employers and employees have suddenly found themselves with very different opinions of what constitutes the ‘right thing to do’.

Keeping a careful eye on your HR and payroll departments may flag growing issues before they become fully grown trends, but it’s not always easy to identify a problem before it’s too late.

Evidence suggests that where an employee sees three close colleagues leave, for whatever reason, the chance of that colleague leaving rises exponentially. Evidence also suggests employees who escaped redundancies may not feel grateful for being retained where the employee feels those redundancies were not essential. Instead, they are more likely to be harbouring resentment and quietly seeking the exit door.

How to keep your staff

So what can employers do to help ensure they don’t fall victim to the Great Resignation?

Forbes suggests several ways to increase your chances of ensuring that staff on the payroll right now stay that way for the foreseeable future. Amongst them is the requirement for employers to ‘walk the walk’.  If you have company values, it’s important employees see you staying true to them, even in the most challenging times.

Trust, transparency and empathy are also vital factors. Fast Company stresses the importance of talking to staff to understand concerns and acting on the information you receive. Where a company is clearly making steps to meet its employees halfway in respect of home working or measures to address burnout, those employees are more likely to stay.

Finally, it remains as important as ever that employers do the simple things right – like paying their employees correctly and on time. To ensure your payroll is reinforcing only positive feelings about your business, call +44 (0) 1276 805 844 or contact us.

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