Against the backdrop of ongoing vaccination efforts, businesses were beginning to catch a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel, and had more cause for hope and celebration than they did at the start of 2021. Many parts of the world started to emerge from the pandemic, and recovery no longer seemed like a distant dream.
However, the rise of the Omicron variant has brought about bouts of uncertainty, causing businesses to head into 2022 with cautious optimism. As beleaguered industries like retail, travel, and F&B gear up for the year ahead, another looming crisis threatens to dampen their joy.
The so-called Great Resignation has seen Americans quit their jobs in record numbers. According to a recent report by the country’s Bureau of Labour Statistics, 4.3 million Americans resigned from their jobs in August 2021 — the highest quit rate since 2000.
Recent research suggests that this trend is on Asia-Pacific’s doorstep.
Earlier this year, the Microsoft Work Trend Index found that 49 percent of the Singapore workforce is considering leaving their employers this year.
APAC organisations are rightly concerned about this trend. As the global economy shifts into recovery mode, more jobs will return or be created. This will in turn widen the gap between the surplus of jobs and the shortage of talents.
Employers are already feeling the effects of this shortage. According to ManpowerGroup, 35 percent of employers plan to hire more workers in the last quarter of 2021, but a staggering 85 percent report difficulty in hiring due to a shortage of skilled talent.
Much ink has been spilled about the possible causes of the Great Resignation, but the one common question runs through the minds of all business leaders: what’s the best way to attract new talent while retaining existing ones?
It’s not just about the money
Over the next year, talent shortages will likely get worse. In this landscape, attracting new talent is just one part of the equation. It is also more important than ever for companies to hold on to their existing talent.
Not only are new talents difficult to find, but they can cost the company a great deal. For instance, new hires need time to get on-boarded and find their footing. There will inevitably be a period of productivity loss.
In a market where workers have plenty of options, companies also need to put more stock into their retention strategies.
This goes beyond paying competitive salaries and bonuses.
Extrinsic rewards such as compensation and benefits remain important, but intrinsic factors such feeling a sense of belonging at work are also significant indicators of employee retention.
In fact, a recent Achievers study showed that organisations with a greater sense of belonging among its employees enjoy greater productivity, stronger employee well-being, and lower levels of turnover.
Unfortunately, Asia-Pacific organisations tend to lag behind their global counterparts in this department.
In Singapore, for instance, only 22 percent of employees feel a strong sense of belonging at their organisation, compared to the global average of 26 percent.
The Great Retention starts with Great Engagement
Yes, the Great Resignation is making its way to our part of the world, and it is shaping up to be a new set of challenges for businesses as they navigate their post-pandemic recovery.
However, it also presents CEOs with the opportunity to level up the conversation about employee engagement and think about how they can enhance employee experience beyond surface-level or monetary incentives.
For instance, in an environment where employees prefer hybrid or remote work arrangements, it is not sufficient to simply give everyone a laptop, load it up with Zoom, and expect all workplace relationships to function as before.
Many in-person avenues for building a workplace culture or a sense of belonging, such as water cooler chats or office celebrations, can no longer be continued in a similar fashion as before.
In these scenarios, organisations need to fall back on fundamental, tried and tested strategies to keep employee morale and engagement high, and use the appropriate digital technologies to execute them.
Beyond this, companies should also work to support their employees’ voices, allowing them to freely express themselves and let their thoughts be heard at the workplace. Not only does this encourage them to deliver more ideas and feedback, it also fosters a sense of engagement by getting them more involved in organisational decisions.
Critically, companies must do more to act on employee feedback upon receiving it, with our research noting how only 16 percent of employees say that their employer takes action on their given feedback.
The onus thus falls on company leaders to be consistent in seeking out employee feedback, ensuring that communication remains honest and transparent between all parties in order to gather actionable insights.
Cultivate that all-important sense of belonging
The Achievers Workforce Institute has identified five key pillars that have been found to strongly correlate with a sense of belonging among employees. These include:
Welcomed - Employees should be intentionally introduced to, and incorporated within the organsational culture.
Known - Employees need to be understood, motivated, and celebrated as an individual.
Included - Employees thrive when they feel valued as an individual; they need to feel that they can be accepted without reservation.
Supported - Employees need to be consistently and meaningfully nurtured and developed. Manager support is critical for this pillar, and managers need to be empowered by the organisation to be more effective.
Connected - Organisations should look to enable employees to experience meaningful personal connections within the organisation.
Ultimately, by focusing on deeper engagement, APAC organisations can build a happier and healthier employee workforce, giving them an edge over their competition in attracting and retaining talents.