Research reveals that the Great Resignation has already hit Aussie SMEs

employee leaves, great resignation
Hand of employer filing final remuneration to employee, letter of resignation, resign concept.

New data from financial services firm Findex indicates that the Great Resignation phenomenon is “no longer looming, but is very much here”. Their report, that surveyed more than 500 SMEs, indicated one in four of them are already experiencing a higher than usual turnover following the onset of COVID-19. In fact, 53 per cent of businesses are concerned about their ability to retain staff over the next 12 months. Furthermore, 33 per cent have noticed a drop in employee satisfaction this year. As a result, staff retention has emerged as the top business concern for SMEs in the year ahead.

The research also noted that employers seem disconnected from what their employees want. Despite the growing preference for remote and hybrid working models among employees, 50 per cent of businesses have not consulted with their teams on their preferred working-from-home-model and have no plans to do so. In fact, almost two-thirds of employers want staff to return to the office for most of the working week despite acknowledging that they think only a third of staff will want to return to pre-COVID working arrangements.

Clarity on employer vaccination policies also presents retention challenges for businesses, with 28 per cent of respondents saying they will require all employees to be fully vaccinated. However, 25 per cent say they support full vaccination only if mandated by the government.

Speaking on the launch of the When Worlds Collide: Small Businesses Meet Post-Pandemic Life report, Jane Betts, Chief People Officer at Findex, said, “It appears for Australia and New Zealand, the Great Resignation is no longer looming, but very much here. What matters most to employees is very different in a post-COVID world, particularly when it comes to work-life balance and flexible working.

“This is why it’s concerning that half of businesses haven’t consulted their teams on their preferred ‘return to the office’ approach,” Betts added. “In an environment of skill shortages, immigration restrictions and greater talent mobility, hiring is becoming increasingly challenging. Businesses should be looking to do everything in their power to retain their current workforce.

Betts said that the first thing managers and leaders need to do is to tap into what their employees want, as it’s clear there’s a big disconnect. “We know that for employees, almost nine in ten (85 per cent) want to continue to work from home or retain flexible working practices,” she said. “But our data shows employers want the opposite and for teams to return back to the office for most, if not all, of the working week. This disconnect is not sustainable.

“It’s not too late for businesses to find a way forward that can satisfy the needs of clients, employers and employees alike,” Betts pointed out. “The market is competitive, but for the organisations prepared to change and adapt, they could be rewarded with the best of new talent and a modern business solution that is fit for purpose in the new working world order.”