How to avoid a post-pandemic employee exodus

employee exodus

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Economic uncertainty wreaked by COVID-19 saw many businesses hit pause on recruitment. With little indication of when economic growth would return, this hiring drought endured for some time, impacting talent strategies globally.

Unsurprisingly, job-hunters faced fierce competition for the few existing vacancies during this period. August 2020 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed unemployed Australians outnumbered available jobs nearly five to one. 

Meanwhile, those employed — who prior to the pandemic may have considered switching jobs — became hesitant to do so amid widespread workforce downsizing. Perhaps understandably, many employees opted to prioritise job security over their long-term career aspirations, with 51% of respondents in the ELMO Sentiment Report indicating their decision to search for a new job was contingent on economic conditions. 

It’s fair to describe this period as an employer’s market. 

Today the story is different. With a fast-recovering economy and a decreasing unemployment rate, employees are feeling more confident about finding new roles elsewhere. It seems the war for talent is back on.   

The risks of growing complacent with your workforce 

Historical data from previous economic downturns shows that while employee resignations decrease when times are tough, they rise steeply when economic growth returns and an employee exodus may occur.

This suggests that employees who felt poorly treated or disengaged during times of financial strife may hold negative long-term perceptions of their employer — and this in turn will have a strong bearing on their intention to stay with the employer long-term. 

Employers invest significantly in recruiting and onboarding new hires. ELMO’s 2021 HR Industry Benchmark Report revealed the average cost to fill a new role is $10,500 and roles typically take 33 days to fill. Then there are costs and time associated with developing, engaging, and motivating top talent.  

ELMO has helped thousands of organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the UK better manage, engage, and inspire their people. For further information, contact ELMO today.

Now is the time to focus on engagement and retention initiatives, including a new element that is rapidly becoming an expected part of the work equation for employees: flexible work. A study by PwC found three quarters of Australians say their ideal work environment is a mix of remote and in-person working.

How to improve employee retention

Here are three tips to improve employee retention strategies in the post-pandemic era.

1. Focus on employee engagement and shaping a new employee experience 

Reimagining the employee experience means taking a post-pandemic, holistic view of it and incorporating the key elements of flexibility, employee wellness, communication, and transparency. 

But it’s difficult to assess the effectiveness of your current employee experience without feedback from end users: that is, your people. The best way to assess this is by gathering feedback via surveys. Regular employee surveys help to gauge employee sentiment and create a frequent employer/employee dialogue — the data from which can be easily compared by key demographics such as age, gender, location, division, tenure. 

These actionable insights can inform broader HR initiatives such as how you shape your employee experience and make headway towards preventing an employee exodus.

2. Improve your skills in HR metrics and analytics 

By improving skills in HR metrics and analytics, organisations can make better use of the rich employee data at their fingertips, put forward stronger business cases, and better speak the language of business to build influence.

Meanwhile, relying on gut instinct alone to assess employee engagement levels and sentiment can be risky, so having data on these areas puts HR in a better position to spot trends, identify risks and forecast ahead.

Technology with predictive analytical capabilities help to track HR trends based on behaviour patterns of their workforce, including insights on employee flight risks — so organisations can get a view of which department, location and position may be most likely to see employees leave the business.

3. Make smarter use of technology 

Technology can have a transformative effect on the HR function, helping to streamline people-related processes and free up time normally spent on manual activity. HR can instead focus on nurturing its people.

As we advance further into the post-COVID world, it’s likely that the war on talent will resume. While there are many factors that contribute to employee turnover, there are some simple steps employers can take to mitigate the risk of an employee exodus. And as always, technology can help.

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ELMO (ASX:ELO) is Australia and New Zealand’s only integrated cloud HR, payroll and rostering/time and attendance solution. We provide innovative technology to more than 1600 organisations across APAC, helping them to manage, engage, and inspire their people from one platform with a single dashboard and reporting suite.

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