5 Ways to Keep Employees During the Great Reshuffle
Call it the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, the Big Quit – call it what you will, there’s no denying the radical workforce shifts that have taken place since the pandemic hit. As media outlets have reported, almost 48 million US employees left their jobs voluntarily last year, which is the highest number since records began in 2001.
It’s far from a solely American phenomenon. To take just a quick snapshot of the UK landscape, the rate of people aged between 16 and 64 moving between jobs was at an unprecedented high of 3.2% between in the last quarter of 2021.
It’s widely theorised that the disruption of the pandemic has caused a kind of mass soul-searching, with employees re-assessing their career priorities and being less willing to compromise on the things that matter most to them. In the words of Brian Elliott of Slack’s Future Forum initiative, this is a vast ‘recalibration’, with workers ‘rethinking – not only in terms of things like compensation – but also, clearly, things like flexibility, purpose, balance.’
So what does this all mean for founders, CEOs and senior decision makers? Quite simply, top talent needs to be courted and nurtured like never before. Here are five key ways to attract and retain the kinds of employees who will make your startup thrive.
1. Allow flexible working
A study of US employees conducted by Owl Labs last year found that one in three of those polled would straight-up quit their jobs if they knew they wouldn’t be allowed to continue working remotely after the pandemic. Cut to 2022, and it’s clear that remote and hybrid working practices are still desirable – even essential – to many workers.
Tech companies looking to compete in the jobs marketplace should ideally adopt the more fluid organisational structures that today’s workers have become used to. Of course, some employers still regard this new normal with a degree of scepticism or trepidation, which explains why demand for employee monitoring software has soared (a recent Harvard Business Review report mentioned one tech company that’s installed software on employees’ computers to take desktop screenshots every 10 minutes).
However, as business management consultant Gene Marks has written, ‘Treat [employees] like the adults that they are and let them do their jobs… You need to have the right metrics in place to be sure that they’re meeting the specific, quantifiable deliverables that you’ve given them. That’s it.’
2. Take up the right software solutions
Cloud-based tech like workplace communications platform Slack and project management tool Trello have optimised the transition to remote/hybrid working practices. But the most competitive employers should consider leveraging a more diverse array of software solutions, such as vertical-specific SaaS platforms. Many workers place great importance on having such solutions at their disposal, a fact highlighted by a recent Adobe survey of employees and managers across both large and small-to-medium businesses.
Over 72% of employees and 88% of managers surveyed said that access to the latest digital tools is something they take into account when evaluating jobs. Feelings of ‘burnout’ were also higher among workers who didn’t have access to such tools. As the Adobe report bluntly states, ‘It is clear that the digital divide continues to fuel the Great Resignation’.
The importance of such solutions to businesses and their employees is one of the reasons why M&A activity targeting Enterprise Software firms has been so robust despite the market corrections of 2022. (You can find out more about this by downloading our newest Enterprise Software market report.)
3. Allow ‘tool autonomy’
‘Tool autonomy’ means empowering employees to utilise their own favoured software and hardware. From virtual assistants to design applications to physical devices, the freedom to pick and choose their tools is of particular importance to millennial and Gen Z workers.
Indeed, according to a Forrester report, two-thirds of millennials and Gen Z-ers have identified tool autonomy as a high workplace priority. Meanwhile, a survey of employees and IT decision-makers commissioned by software company Jamf found that 89% of those polled would even be prepared to take a pay cut if it meant being able to use the devices of their choice. What’s more, 70% said they’d be more likely to join a company if it offered tool autonomy.
4. Provide upskilling opportunities
If you’re a brand-new, bootstrapped startup, you may lack the resources to provide training and mentorship for recruits. But structured upskilling opportunities should be part of any founder or CEO’s longer term game plan, given that the brightest and best tech employees will prioritise building their skillsets as they work.
A recent study by McKinsey has revealed that a primary reason many people left their jobs during the first wave of the Great Resignation/Reshuffle last year was a lack of training and growth. It can therefore pay dividends to invest in bootcamps, and pathways for your employees to develop skills relating to in-demand fields like cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain technology, AR and AI.
5. Maintain a positive working culture
It’s not just tangible factors like wages, tools and training that can make a company stand out from the crowd in the eyes of employees. There’s also the more nebulous matter of workplace culture, and the mental wellbeing of those at every level of the hierarchy.
Seeking to untangle the various reasons for the Great Resignation/Reshuffle, writers for an MIT journal analysed a staggering 34 million online employee profiles and 1.4 million company reviews on Glassdoor. They found that dissatisfaction with wages only had a ‘moderate impact on employee turnover’, whereas ‘a toxic corporate culture is by far the strongest predictor’ of attrition. Actively promoting diversity and inclusion, and making workers feel involved and respected, can be vital to retaining loyal workers.
Molly Johnson-Jones, founder of online careers marketplace Flexa, indicated in a recent interview that the ‘musical chairs’ of employees chopping and changing their roles is likely to continue for some years to come. In this uber-competitive environment, all tech companies – from brash startups to legacy behemoths – must pull out all the stops to find the staff who will make them what they are.