How Flexibility And Development Opportunities Can Help Companies Counter The Great Resignation

By Zuko Mdwaba, Area Vice President, Salesforce South Africa 

Drastic changes in ways of working over the last two years have given many employees reason to stop and consider what drives them at work, what factors are important in the workplace and what they want from their employer.

Globally these trends have led to what has been termed ‘The Great Resignation era’ in which many employees have quit their jobs, seeking more fulfilling and purposeful work, better pay and benefits and work-life balance.

According to a recent McKinsey survey in the United States, 40% of employees anticipate they will leave their job in the next 3-6 months. The top three factors employees cited as reasons for quitting were that they didn’t feel valued by their organisations (54%) or their managers (52%) or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51%).

As CEOs focus on accelerating their digital transformation and getting their business back to growth, they are also being challenged to offer better employee opportunities than their competitors. With remote work on the rise, they’re competing with organisations in every market, to provide the best flexible working conditions and developmental opportunities. Increasingly, too, today’s workforce expects business leaders to lead in a way that is ethical and responsible.

In this all-digital world, with the right leadership, training, and technology, companies can create a more meaningful workplace to better attract, retain and nurture talent, from anywhere.

Attracting talent with value-driven leadership

Value-driven leadership is essential in today’s business climate, particularly when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. We all have a role to play in building a better world and a fairer society. In times of crisis especially, businesses that look beyond generating profit are more likely to be trusted and supported by their employees and communities.

With the potential businesses have to be a platform for positive change in society, business leaders wield tremendous power to make a tangible impact. That 77% of employees, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, say they trust their employer and look to them for leadership shows the significant role that companies can play in their employees’ lives.

From encouraging diversity to enabling sustainability, how business leaders show they are acting with the interests of all stakeholders has never been more important to attracting and retaining employees, and to the success of their company.

Retaining talent with flexible working arrangements

As we navigate the complexities of the changing world of work, including blurred professional and personal lives, wellbeing should be top of mind for every business leader.

Having the freedom to sculpt their working day around their own unique needs is increasingly considered as a core need for employees to increase productivity and decrease stress. This is particularly true amongst diverse groups like women with children and where global hiring and integration of time zones affects team working hours.

To boost employee retention, promoting different ways of working – flexibly, fully remotely or entirely office based – can help meet these needs. Flex Team Agreements are a great example of redefining how teams work together, empowering employees to decide how, when, and where they work — including how many days a week they come into the office and what kind of work they’ll continue to do at home.

Teams can also decide how they communicate and what behaviours are most important to them. Arrangements can include “No Meeting Fridays”, monthly Wellbeing days, and prioritising meeting in-person throughout the year to keep teams feeling connected.

Flexible working also has its challenges, however. Employee burnout is another key factor which should be considered if businesses hope to retain talent. Advanced technology may be the key to achieving customer satisfaction and supporting burned out employees.

Investing in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, for example, can relieve employees of mundane, repetitive tasks, reduce errors, help make faster decisions and free up their time for career development and the learning of additional skills.

Nurturing talent with growth opportunities

Every employee wants to grow and feel like they have opportunities to progress at work. Nurturing talent through professional development initiatives is key to giving employees the skills they need to succeed. Company-sponsored learning is a practical and cost-effective way of getting the best out of teams and creating a work environment in which employees feel their careers can thrive

The need for upskilling across organisations is all the more important given the proportion of the workforce who believe they, as individuals, will be ready with the workplace digital skills needs over the next five years. According to a new Global Digital Readiness Index from Salesforce which surveyed more than 23,000 workers across 19 countries, this is the perception of 57% of senior leadership, in contrast to 37% of managers.

As the nature of jobs evolve and teams become more distributed, successful companies of the future will provide ongoing retraining opportunities and create more strategic roles. As well as mitigating the risk of losing their best talent, retaining and growing teams together will drive greater business agility and resilience, higher productivity, and stronger standards of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Ultimately, by building trust, encouraging flexibility, and promoting career growth opportunities, business leaders will better position their companies to attract and retain the best talent, and become a better workplace in the process.

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