The ‘Great Resignation’ and how it can be turned into the ‘Great Reshuffle’

In this guest article, Dr. Jonathan Lord, HR expert from the University of Salford Business School, discusses how the ‘Great Resignation’ can be turned into the ‘Great Reshuffle’.

The Great Resignation’ does not necessarily mean businesses simply accept that workers resign from their jobs, it can also be viewed as ‘The Great Reshuffle’ where a large swath of employees simply move around the job market.

Workers are now determined to establish a better work-life balance and are making deliberate choices as to where their careers are heading.  They are increasingly more able to fit work into their lives rather than their lives squeezed into their work, and the ‘Great Reshuffle’ can be a force for good where new skills and experience crossing over into different sectors and industries can stimulate innovation and change.

At the inception of the pandemic, employment was full of uncertainty, with millions of people losing their jobs, and those fortunate enough to remain employed were purely in survival mode. However, as we are now firmly in recovery mode, workers who are in the enviable position of not living hand to mouth are making the decision to change jobs or indeed careers.

However, workers are not just leaving the workforce, they are, in fact, reconfiguring their careers. Many are leveraging the current recruitment crisis to transfer into better positions. Others have decided to move into self-employment with, as of November 2021, just over 4.2 million self-employed workers in the UK. Self-employment in the UK has grown steadily, from a low of 3.2 million in December 2000.

The shift has witnessed workers move into new industries and careers that offer higher wages or align more with their values. These jobs not only offer more pay and benefits but also offer better work arrangements in the longer term.

Therefore, a lot of uncertainty remains with businesses analysing how to maintain their cultures and retain employees with so many different working practices and changes in staff.

To navigate these issues, businesses need to, first of all, quantify the problem and determine the underlying causes of turnover within the organisation. Once this has been established, they can then identify the root causes through exploring metrics such as remuneration, promotional time lapses, pay increase data, length of service, performance analysis and CPD opportunities. Drilling down into job roles or demographics of workers within the organisation can also help identify specific trends affecting retention.

Jonathan has six key points that businesses can focus on the benefit from the current climate:

  1. Knowing what candidates want and tailor the recruitment process accordingly.
  2. Providing empathy training for all staff to ensure there is a culture of tolerance and understanding.
  3. Embracing career changers and aligning their ambitions and skills with roles within the organisation.
  4. Offering hybrid working and more flexibility on a more permanent and open basis.
  5. Understanding company culture still matters.
  6. Do not be wary of automation. Companies such as Metaview provide and utilise interview intelligence and analytics software which assist in recruiting the right talent, and Attrax have developed a career site system so that workers have a longitudinal view of their career and not just a short-term, appraisal-based approach.
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