The ‘Great Resignation’ in 2021 saw workers voluntarily quit their jobs at historic rates and, according to new research from specialist independent consultancy Barnett Waddingham, very few UK businesses escaped unscathed.
Just 15% of senior decision makers at UK businesses said that the great resignation had not affected them. Of the 85% affected, almost a third (32%) said they’d seen negative impacts on employee wellbeing as a result. 31% had seen team burnout, and 20% said it had led to unreasonable employee workloads.
The phenomenon has also impacted the ability of employers to recruit and retain staff. 32% said they’d struggled to attract new talent as a direct result of the Great Resignation, and 31% had trouble retaining their staff.
As well as delving into the impact on businesses, Barnett Waddingham sought to understand the reasons behind the phenomenon. In its survey of employees last year, the results indicated that one in every three workers (32%) were willing to resign from their job should their employer not agree to their choice of hybrid working arrangement. Now, in its survey of senior decision makers, it appears that has borne out.
A massive 59% of businesses attribute employee dissatisfaction with the organisation’s flexible or hybrid working policy as one of the main reasons for resignations over the last year; just 23% said it was not. Making up the 59% ‘yes’s, 28% had confirmed that fact via exit interviews, whilst 31% relied on anecdotes.
So how widespread has the shift to hybrid working been as a result? According to the research, very. 84% of businesses have embraced a hybrid working model. Not all of these are Covid-induced though. 21% have always had a hybrid working model, and 22% had introduced one before the pandemic. More than a quarter of businesses (27%) introduced one post-Covid, and 13% are currently trialling one.
Some companies have not shifted to a hybrid working model, for a variety of reasons. 3% of all firms said they’d trialled it, but it hadn’t worked for them, and 6% said it was not applicable for anyone in their organisation. A further 5% said they were considering it for the future.
Of course, the shift does come with a cost to businesses. 77% of businesses who have shifted to a hybrid working model said the technology costs had been high, and 72% said the same of hardware costs.
David Collington, Principal at Barnett Waddingham, comments: “In the wake of the biggest shake up of workplace norms since the industrial revolution, organisations are scrabbling to keep up with the speed of change. Control has shifted from the employer to the employee, and with that businesses have had to step up their game at every stage of the lifecycle, from attraction and recruitment through to retention. Beer fridges and ping pong are not enough; the most effective businesses are making real structural changes to try to win the race for talent.
“In the eyes of many employees, hybrid working has moved from a luxury to a bare minimum. For C-suites and HR departments, effort now needs to be focused on making hybrid working work for all; balancing team cohesion and training with flexibility and freedom. Crucially, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Businesses need to be tracking employee sentiment and beliefs before they can deliver effective change.”