Just like in the USA, millions of Australians are predicted to leave their jobs in the coming months. It’s commonly known as the “Great Resignation”.
Recently, news.com.au reported that just like their American counterparts, Aussies are exhausted, and having taken the past 18 months to reassess their priorities, they’re reconsidering their workplace and working environment.
What’s important now is that employers recognise this and adjust their expectations. Many real estate agents are now returning to the office. Many directors still have the expectation that life will return to pre-pandemic normal. But this is not only unrealistic but untenable. In fact, it’s the only way you’ll secure and then retain the top talent in the industry. It’s all about give and take. Meet your employees halfway.
Why it’s important to provide flexible working environments
People have become accustomed to working from home. They’ve become accustomed to flexibility – spending time with their families, being able to run errands in the middle of the day, cooking dinner at lunchtime. What COVID-19 has shown us is that work and life don’t have to challenge each other. Rather, they can work harmoniously. But only if the employer is open to it. Principals must embrace flexibility, even as we emerge from lockdown. If you retain the old mindset, expecting that employees are in the office from 9-5:30 each day, you not only run the risk of your existing employees resigning – there’s that “Great Resignation” – but you also run the risk of not being able to secure new employees to replace them. It’s pretty clear that without flexibility, you risk losing the best people within your organisation.
Why it works
COVID-19 forced a lot of businesses online. While it’s true that prior to the pandemic, many lacked the ability for staff to work from home, when given no other choice, businesses had to provide the systems and the software to enable working out of the office.
The systems are so sophisticated now that there’s no real need for anybody to be in the office at all during working hours.
Of course, many people enjoy the face-to-face element of being part of a team. But they still appreciate the ability to work from their own space, in their own time. Giving them the choice also means they may even enjoy being in the office, rather than seeing it as a chore each day. It becomes a whole new lifestyle.
Which is why being flexible can assist – some days in the office, some days at home. It’s a win/win.
How to make it happen
At the end of the day, it’s more important to have engaged employees. Giving them space to work in their own time keeps them happy and helps them learn to manage themselves. It gives them responsibility.
So how do you make it happen? First, ensure there is still an office space for those who want it. Some people prefer to separate their home and work life, and they need the peace and quiet or the hustle and bustle of an office setting. Give them the choice.
Second, set up Zoom meetings weekly, fortnightly or monthly – whatever works for your team – to check-in and see how the situation is working. Readjust as necessary.
It’s all about flexibility
It’s clear that business owners who are willing to meet their employees halfway and offer flexible working environment, and hours, will become Employers of Choice in the coming months, while many who don’t offer the same flexibility will struggle to attract and retain top talent.
Remember, as long as the job is getting done and staff are getting the results required, it doesn’t matter where they are – whether they’re in the office, at their dining table or on a park bench.
If you offer flexible working arrangements, top talent will naturally stay on board. Ignore the need for the ability to work-from-home, that top talent will naturally start to look elsewhere.
Adam Flynn is the state director of Coronis Group Victoria.