It's not surprising that 'The Great Resignation' is getting so much attention and media coverage. The semantics alone are enough to get businesses worried. Plus, the prospect of facing more change and disruption after two years of nothing but… No wonder it's got people talking.
When we hear things like "millions of workers leaving their jobs" or "40% of the workforce resigning" (both real predictions), it sounds overwhelming. Disastrous, even. But how much should Australian businesses really be worrying about it?
Most businesses are more prepared than they might think to face this challenge. Some could even come out of it better off than they are now. With change comes challenge, but also opportunity. Approached the right way, 'The Great Resignation' could offer a range of benefits to businesses - and improve the relationship with and experience of employees.
Businesses are prepped for change
Over the last two years, many businesses have learnt they can function through incredibly tough times. During two years of restrictions, lockdowns, freedoms and more restrictions, businesses dug deep and soldiered on.
Face to face business models pivoted online. Some functioned with skeleton staff. Some quickly hired more staff as demand skyrocketed. Everyone supported each other more. And some things even got better - flexible working, more focus on health and wellbeing, discovery of new markets and opportunities.
Because the way we work has not changed much over the last few decades, big change can come as a shock. But just as so many of us adapted to operating during a pandemic, so too will we learn to evolve with other changes - including mass resignations.
Of course, staff retention is important for consistency, and having multiple resignations at the same time is not the ideal situation. But employees come and go, and we need to be prepared for that. Remember, staff aren't forever. Just as you can't promise them a position forever, they don't promise to stay forever.
How to make the most out of resignations
If The Great Resignation does hit Australia with the force that is being predicted, it may well change the larger business landscape. But that doesn't mean individual businesses can't benefit. So, how can you turn what is so widely believed to be a big challenge into an opportunity to evolve your businesses and improve business and employee outcomes?
Optimise your processes and structure
This is a chance to reconsider necessary roles and optimise how your business is structured and who does what. Use it as an opportunity to remove or combine some roles without having to take anyone out of the business, as well as promote from within to support those who are staying.
Make the most of increasing talent pools
Many of the people leaving their jobs will be looking for new ones. That means there will be a bigger pool of talent to recruit from. Lately, we've been suffering from incredibly low applicant pools, with lots of businesses finding it hard to source the right candidates. With more people moving around, there will be more choices and more top talent.
Position yourself as a more competitive employer
We've mentioned one of the reason's people are leaving their jobs is that their priorities are changing. So, what businesses offer employees may need to change too. If you can offer an environment with work benefits that match those employees are looking for (think flexible working, focus on wellbeing, family allowances), then you can be a more competitive recruiter and cement yourself as an employer of choice.
Be ready for anything
While we're seeing mass resignations happen in other parts of the world, there is no knowing when it will happen here - or if it will at all. But either way, it pays to be prepared.
Could you benefit from a restructure? From fewer people? From more? From new and different types of experience? There's not often time in a busy business to think about these things and take action. But now there is.
The first step is to prep your HR team for change. Even if you don't experience a lot of staff leaving, it's likely you will still be forced to face some changes (different expectations or demands from employees and shifts in how/when/where staff work, for example). If it becomes clear your HR team aren't fully equipped to be able to manage internal priorities and a large recruitment drive, you should think about sourcing some extra support.
Cementing in a great recruitment process before you need to use it will ensure you can manage end to end recruitment, access the right talent, and fill gaps quickly. Our 'Perfecting Your Recruitment Process' whitepaper is a great free resource and a good place to start for building an effective and efficient recruitment process that doesn't overload HR.