Dr Zofia Bajorek: Good work holds key to mitigating the ‘Great Resignation’

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion about the ‘great resignation’: the idea that employees are leaving their jobs at unprecedented rates.

The post-Covid labour market suggests that there are a high number of vacancies but not enough staff to fill them, and so workplaces need to focus on retaining employees.

As such, attention has turned to what rewards and/or benefits organisations should offer to attract and retain the staff they need to maintain a productive workforce

Increasing pay is one way through, which some employers are trying to keep their staff from looking elsewhere. But evidence is now accumulating that employees are looking for more from their employers, based around the employee experience.

Throughout the pandemic, employees have had the opportunity to really start thinking about what they want from work, and for some this has resulted in a shift in priorities.

Employees are now seeking employers who place a greater focus on employee health and wellbeing; both physical and mental health have been highlighted throughout the pandemic. Employees are looking for roles that utilise their skills, where there are clear progression opportunities and where there is flexibility, not only in where they work but when and how they work also.

It seems that how organisations value their employees at work is now more important than what extras employers give their employees.

It is time for organisations to look at the elements of what constitutes ‘good’ work for their employees, be that autonomy, support, training and development, fairness, employee voice.

Employees are reflecting on how they have been treated by their organisation and management throughout the pandemic, and if these fundamentals of good quality work are not being addressed then this could be a tipping point moment.

It is also crucial that this is applied to everyone in the workforce. The evidence also suggests that it’s the ‘great retirement’ and not just the great resignation that employers need to be addressing.

Organisations will benefit from thinking about how they design, market and orientate organisational culture and to focus on what can be done to improve the experience of work for all.

Dr Zofia Bajorek is senior research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies