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Get ready for the next wave of employee attrition; here’s why and tips to prevent it

Now that vaccination rates continue to climb, the economy is starting to stabilize, and families are reemerging in public spaces, the general sentiments about work/life balance have completely changed.

By: Tal Valler, Director of Global Marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic—and the ensuing lockdowns, confusion, unpredictability, layoffs, and job loss—created a hybrid, remote-first work environment on a global scale. Due to this, employee-initiated separations, or employees voluntarily quitting their jobs, have plummeted. The thought was that with so much uncertainty swirling, the safe bet for many employees was keeping the job, the income, and the stability they had. 

Now that vaccination rates continue to climb, the economy is starting to stabilize, and families are reemerging in public spaces, the general sentiments about work/life balance have completely changed. Per Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, which analyzed survey data of 31,000+ full-time employees, 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer. 

But why such significant turnover? As the world begins to recover from the pandemic and find a semblance of normalcy, why is job turnover set to be one of the most significant, yet unexpected, repercussions? This article dives into a few reasons:

Employees are attributing burnout to their company—not the pandemic.

It’s no secret that people are burnt out. Employees feel overworked and burdened. With the shift to remote work, employees are struggling with “shutting off”. Accessibility via chat platforms, mobile, or on desktop, video meetings, and the absence of a commute means that the average workday is slowing starting earlier and ending later. People are holding more meetings, sending more emails, engaging in more chats, and collaborating on more docs than pre-pandemic. The “turn off switch” between one’s workday and personal life has disappeared. 

The result? The workday, and the full workweek, are elongated. And whether it’s truly the company’s fault or a byproduct of remote connectivity and accessibility, employees are attributing it to their job and their company. Even despite intentional communications and programming to combat burnout, employees feel their company doesn’t care about their work/life balance. Thus, turnover.

In a remote world, you can work from anywhere.

Remote work has led to tremendous flexibility—for both the employee and the employer. Virtual meetings, asynchronous communication, and remote work can be conducted from almost anywhere. This flexibility, however, is a double-edged sword. For employers, this significantly expanded the volume of candidates for an open position. Historically, companies have been anchored by their office location geographically. Now? Candidates can come from any pocket of the globe.

This goes for employees as well—you no longer need to work within commuting distance to a big city to work for your company. Whether it’s to move closer to family, to give themselves more space, or to try something new, employees are flooding out of cities and urban areas in record numbers. As Fidelity reports in their COVID Moving Study, this large-scale workforce redistribution has employees moving out of New York (-68% net moves), San Francisco (-59% net moves), and Boston (-50%) and moving to Boise (+300% net moves), Austin (+213% net moves), and Sarasota (+126% net moves).

So what should those in leadership positions do to triage a potential mass exodus and maintain their workforce? A few tips:

Have tools and processes for engaging employees.

Amongst all the factors working against an employer because of the pandemic, boosting engagement, building a learning culture, and rewarding top performers can all help build a culture that people want to remain a part of. Build personalized, achievable improvement plans, provide support on career growth, and recognize employees for their accomplishments and you can minimize employee turnover.

Face burnout head on—don’t sweep it under the rug.

Because you’re likely focusing time, energy, and resources into your top performers, it’s important to note that these are the folks that are most susceptible to exhaustion and burnout. Those that are committed to being the best, are the most proactive in closing skill gaps, and are prioritizing career progression will be the first group of folks that will double their meeting quantity and field emails after hours. Layer in intentional calendar breaks, hard-stops at the end of the workday, and work/life balance into the company culture.

Embrace flexibility.

Living in a city is no longer advantageous for, nor synonymous with, career development. Employees are flooding historically popular cities for open skies and are now prioritizing proximity to family versus proximity to the office. Rethink your stance on remote work and embrace the flexibility it provides employees—or they will find another company that does. Can the jobs your employees do truly be done from anywhere? What does that mean for your office space? Your communication platforms and technology stack? Your employee benefits? Create the answers to these questions and systemize a remote work policy.

Concerned about the ensuing spike in employee turnover? Want to learn more about enabling remote-first work models and engaging your employees? Check out Alone Together, 2.0, our free ebook that offers guidance on how to bring out the best in your employees.

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