Commentary: The Tsunami of Coming Resignations – Why Many May Quit Their Jobs in a Pandemic Economy
SINGAPORE: Countries could have worried about rising unemployment following a pandemic causing bottlenecks and brakes on economic activity.
But there is a new and very different problem on the horizon: a potential “tsunami of resignation”.
Last year alone, many workers around the world feared losing their jobs. Perhaps because of this, many are proactively seeking a back-up plan.
A survey conducted by the Achievers Workforce Institute in the United States and Canada indicated that more than half intended to seek new employment in 2021.
Here in Singapore, a report by Michael Page Talent Trends also found that 56% of respondents expect to find a new job in 2021.
This figure is higher than the 31% of employees in Singapore who intend to find a new job between April and October 2020, according to a Randstad survey. This despite the economy contracting by 2% in the second quarter as restrictions were tightened.
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Why are people thinking about quitting their current job? Prior to the pandemic, the main factors that typically keep employees away were pay and benefits, job security and growth opportunities, according to a 2017 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management. Job satisfaction was already low at less than 40 percent by then.
These key factors haven’t changed much, but employee expectations of bosses and companies have risen, due to pent-up job changes that haven’t happened and pandemic-triggered epiphanies of what really matters. for them.
Nine in ten people polled by Michael Page’s survey suggest there is room for improving the employee experience, including calls for more transparency in leadership communication and sincerity in how whose leaders convey their messages.
Expectations have generally gone beyond work to focus on balancing work, life, and purpose.
Remote working has created burnout due to longer hours at the computer, heavier workloads, endless Zoom meetings and conference calls, and a myriad of other new responsibilities as a daily norm.
Mental and emotional well-being is now one of the most important topics in many companies. A Microsoft Work Trend survey released in May found that 55% of respondents said they felt overworked while 39% felt exhausted.
The way employers approach mental wellness issues reveals the relationship between leaders and employees and highlights a deeper picture of the overall culture of the company.
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For example, how did management handle the layoff during this time? When employees were forced to leave, did their leaders treat them with respect and dignity? When employees suffered by working from home in isolation, did their leaders do anything to help them?
As a leader, it’s not just about ensuring the hygiene factors, like making sure employees have the technological tools to work effectively from home, but the human touch to support the staff during this time. tumultuous.
Few are like DBS, which gave contract drivers who transported DBS Asia Treasures customers before the pandemic a new focus by delivering meals to households in need.
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JOBS AND SKILLS
There are also pull factors. As the economy shows signs of recovery, new jobs are also on the rise.
Total employment in Singapore turned positive in the first quarter of 2021 for the first time since the pandemic. The same Michael Page survey showed that 40% of employers plan to increase their workforce in Singapore in 2021.
Retraining has also given workers more options. With the wide accessibility of free online learning courses and government training grants, people have made themselves more marketable and suited to a wider range of roles.
About 540,000 Singaporeans benefited from SkillsFuture Singapore programs in 2020, and employees took courses in data analytics, digital commerce and customer service, and general communication and change management skills.
These skills correspond to the few most important emerging jobs in Singapore reported by LinkedIn Talent Solutions – in data analytics, design, cybersecurity and digital work.
WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS DO?
According to a recent Mercer 2020 Global Talent Trends Study, only 11% of human resources (HR) teams in Singapore provided a great employee experience last year.
Companies with human resources that take this opportunity to reinvent work-from-home policies will do a better job of attracting talent. According to a McKinsey report from November 2020, hybrid remote working will continue with more than 20% of workers in advanced economies working from home three to five days a week.
Companies like Twitter promised that working from home would be a permanent option, but many others were eager to welcome their employees back to the office, saying there were benefits to being physically present in the office.
At a time when an Icelandic four-day workweek study has sparked enthusiasm for a new work paradigm, employers must first rethink work itself and to what extent flexibility can be a component in the design of the work itself.
Japan, Spain and many other countries are pursuing some levels of experimentation in this regard.
The good news based on the Mercer study? Almost half of Singaporean companies plan to focus on flexible work in 2021, strengthen their learning ecosystem and develop their talents. They know these are top priorities.
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The second important step is to listen to what your employees want. Companies have conducted engagement surveys and exit interviews every year – however, many do not take follow-up action.
Six in ten people polled in the Achievers Workforce Institute report solicited employee feedback on improving their experience, but only 34 percent of employees felt their employers took action.
To reinvent the employee experience, listen and provide feedback to your employees. Get to know your employees better and learn to design better experiences for them. You also won’t be surprised when someone submits a resignation letter.
A third important step is to recognize the accomplishments of your employees beyond compensation and benefits. Many employers have asked, “Why are our employees still leaving even when we are paying higher wages than the market?” “
Sometimes all it takes is a simple and sincere visible gesture that employees can see, feel and remember that makes a difference. How to demonstrate recognition is also closely related to the social and emotional skills of a leader.
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The road ahead may or may not see people giving up en masse. People can only speak harshly in polls to be more careful.
But we are in a peak hiring period where annual performance bonuses and any increases would have been paid.
So, in a tight labor market like Singapore’s where competition for talent is fierce, it may be time for employers to reinvent the possible learning paths they could take with their employees together.
Dr Wu Pei Chuan is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and Organization, National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. She is also the Deputy Academic Director of the MSc in Human Capital Management and Analytics (HCMA) program.