From education to employment

Keeping hold of valued colleagues when so many are questioning their current positions

Diane Herft MCIPD - Chief People Officer, Remit Training

As a national training provider which runs mental health training courses for employers alongside our core offer of training young apprentices, you might think that we would have ready-made answers to pandemic-related phenomena such as ‘the Great Resignation’, burnout and workforce stabilisation.

The truth is that we are constantly battling against the post-Covid retention challenges as much as any other business.  Therefore it was a surprise to see recent research suggesting that employer concern about staff wellbeing was actually decreasing, with organisations apparently oblivious to the consequences of burying their heads in the sand on the matter. 

Even with the lockdowns over, employers should recognise that things are very unlikely to ever return to ‘normal’.  In fact, a Randstad survey last December estimated almost a quarter (24%) of employees in the UK said they planned to move jobs within three to six months.  This equates to six million workers confident in the knowledge that they are stepping back into a market with over 1,300,000 vacancies.

‘Grass is greener’ should not be defined by pay alone

Seeking better pay is an undoubted factor behind CVs being dug out and my employer is not shielded from this especially when households are facing larger bills with rising inflation.  Salaries for apprentice automotive technician tutors in our sector for example are significantly higher than they were before the pandemic.  But at the same time, we hear stories of former colleagues defining ‘grass is greener’ simply by increased pay and then regretting their actions.

In the quest for workforce stabilisation, our starting point is ensuring that colleagues feel valued over the long term and this means checking regularly that individuals’ personal wellbeing is good.  In fact we are so passionate about supporting colleagues’ mental health, we make our mental health first aid (MHFA) training freely available to all our colleagues and offer MHFA training needs analysis and subsequent training to other employers in addition to health and wellbeing courses.

It may sound trite but the absence of fun in a workplace can impact on colleague turnover and therefore organisations should regularly review if they are providing a happy place to work and a sense of belonging.

Covid and home working have been significant issues in determining the level of connectivity between colleagues and it is understandable that many employers do not want to lose the benefits of face-to-face interaction, such as joint creativity and brainstorming in the same room.

Young people want something different

In deciding upon a response to changing views on work-life balance and working from home, we must remember that a ‘one size fits all’ approach probably isn’t going to work and this is increasingly evident in the questions that candidates ask at job interviews.  We are not just talking about different attitudes according to age, although there is no escaping the fact that Millennials and Generation Z have increasingly firm views for example about flexible working, ‘hustle culture’, working in a safe space and receiving meaningful and ongoing training. 

According to surveys, a third of people who have changed jobs during the pandemic felt that their work didn’t fit in with their personal lives and half of these respondents were young people – quite a contrast to those of us who grew up believing that our life outside work had to fit around the latter’s demands.

Policies which properly address inclusion and diversity are vital to workforce stabilisation.  The CIPD has also pointed out that women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing segment of the workforce and most will go through the menopause transition during their working lives.  It is right to say that menopause should not be a taboo subject at work and companies like ours now have an appropriate policy and support in place.

It is a long checklist but if we are serious about looking after our own people, then we first need to understand what employees want and this must be done on an individualised basis.      

By Diane Herft MCIPD – Chief People Officer, Remit Training

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