As we enter the year 2024, there will be significant changes in office design. The highly anticipated “Great Return to Work” is altering our understanding and creation of workspaces. This article explores the shifting landscape and important trends that will shape office interiors in the upcoming year.
What is the Great Resignation?
The COVID-19 pandemic left most employees rethinking their jobs. While the cost of living keeps rising, their wages remain as is. In comparison to other companies and employers, they get lower pay, less opportunities, and a lack of work-life balance that continue to affect employees. More personal reasons like feeling disrespected at work, having childcare issues (for those who have children), being provided with bad or insufficient benefits, wanting to relocate to a different area, and even employers requiring COVID-19 vaccines contribute to the “quit rate”.
Due to these employer-related and personal reasons, millions of people started quitting in the US. From late 2020 to early 2021, the country’s said “quit rate” peaked at a 20-year high. In response to this, a Business Administration professor at the Texas A&M University, Anthony Klotz, coined the term “Great Resignation” in May 2021.
Is The Great Resignation Australia Actually Happening Right Now?
Many workers in Western countries have been returning to the workforce in late 2021 and early 2022. Because of this, arguments as to whether the Great Resignation Australia will last or not are circulating. In fact, the phenomenon is still actively happening around the world.
A similar movement has been happening in China and is referred to as ‘tang ping’. It started around the same time the Great Resignation started in the US and was a protest of rejection of society’s pressure to overwork. In Europe, most resignations have been COVID-related, specifically because of the 2021 Omicron variant that caused employees to plan to leave their jobs, primarily because of their declining mental health and wellbeing. One of the biggest countries in Asia, India, has also witnessed large-scaled resignations, specifically in the information technology sector. With the widespread effect of the Great Resignation, it is not surprising that it has reached the land down under.
How are we really sure that this is happening in Australia? Since February 2022, job vacancies have been relatively higher at 6.7% than the previous quarter. This is also 86% higher than job vacancies in February 2020. This is mainly because of replacements or resignations, heavier workloads, and expansions of businesses. A large number of workers have also been resigning from their jobs for better salaries and working environments. Opportunities, like ones in the field of information technology, allow remote work. Salaries in the field have also increased by over 10% in many areas of the country.
Is it really the Great Resignation? According to former Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg, instead of a Great Resignation, a ‘Great Reshuffle’ is happening in Australia’s labor market. An analysis of the Treasury shows that over a million workers have found and started new jobs from November 2021 to February 2022. This is almost 10% higher than the pre-COVID average. Around 300,000 employees also left their jobs because they were looking for better job opportunities which allowed them to move up the job ladder and gain better pay. The Treasury also confirmed that workers who moved jobs had salary increases of 8-10%. Frydenberg confirmed that these workers also move to more productive firms that help said firms grow.
Frydenberg also gave the assurance of a prediction that the economy will improve once the Omicron variant and its peak passes. While he confirmed that there will be issues with labor force shortages, disruption of supply chains, and higher inflation, he also said that “now is the time to start confidently moving back towards normalised economic settings”.
What Companies Can Do To Retain Their Workforce
Like everyone else does, employees want to work in an environment where their needs and wants can be met by their employers. Giving these to them will definitely retain, if not improve, the labor force and its environment.
A survey done by Qualtrics found that 51% of Australians would stay in their workplace longer if the remote restrictions implemented during the epidemic become permanent. With the flexibility of working around their families and other responsibilities, employees get to have great careers with a healthy work-life balance. Besides the work-life balance employers need to provide, support for mental health and wellbeing is crucial.
In addition to coining the term “Great Resignation”, Klotz also said that companies can retain their employees and their workforce by giving them a break and more support. According to some experts, employers can offer more accommodating and flexible work arrangements like remote work, hybrid work, or flexible schedules.
More opportunities, benefits, and better pay can also be provided by the employer. Great applicants and candidates who know their worth negotiate the salaries and benefits they receive. While this demands more from the company, it serves as great compensation for the talent they can bring in the market and the skill shortage it is experiencing.
Retention and engagement with employees prevent the Great Resignation Australia. Regular check-ins help make sure that they are being heard and that their mental health and wellbeing are being taken care of. Offering new opportunities can help solve issues or problems one might have and if it doesn’t, transparency and assistance for a job transfer would be appreciated.
How a Workplace Strategy Can Tackle the Great Resignation
Learning to adapt and respond with the needs and wants of employees is the main strategy for tackling the Great Resignation. While flexibility is the number one solution for such, retention, quick actions, evaluation, and believing in your employees also serve as great strategies.
Adopting flexible work arrangements allows employees to have more freedom. This helps them avoid feeling that they are stuck in a constricting environment. In addition to the demands of having remote or hybrid work and flexible schedules, employers can suggest and promote other approaches like introducing part-time work and job share. Recruiters, HR personnel, and other existing staff should make these clear with both current and new workers.
As mentioned earlier, the Great Resignation can be prevented through retention. Check-ins and routine interviews help you know what your employees are feeling. You could make sure that they are maintaining a healthy work-life balance routine. You would know if they feel motivated, rewarded, or burnt-out. Again, solutions or changes may be offered to make them feel better. If no solution works for them, you should be transparent and offer other opportunities within or outside the company.
When the company is hiring employees, impressive candidates for a position should be hired quickly. They must also be compensated with a commensurate salary, one that is reasonable for both the candidate and the company. Their skills and talents are assets to the company; and they must be rightly compensated for these. There might be a possibility that while you entertain and interview other potential candidates, your star candidate may be signing contracts with other companies too.
If undesirable circumstances happen with applicants, candidates, or employees, listen to them and allow them to explain their situation. There could always be reasonable explanations and it would not hurt the company to give them a chance to provide honest feedback.
Another problem companies experience is the difficulty of filling in respective jobs and roles. Taking a closer look at job listings and offers, evaluating, and suggesting other approaches can be done for re-advertising roles.
Lastly, always keep in mind that while candidates and employees may not have the skills you require, they may be taught and trained with such. If they have experience in another sector, they will adjust to their new role faster than other potential employees.
With everything that is going on with the world today, it is normal to have setbacks in the workplace. The best thing to do is what humans are best at: adapt and be resilient. The Great Reshuffle and Great Resignation must be addressed and solved at their very root. By prioritising the employees that serve as assets to the company, we can easily adapt – at the very least, the Great Resignation will eventually peter out.
It is important to remember that not every effect of the Great Resignation Australia is bad. In fact, Australia has been ahead by providing greater incentives to employees. Still, only time will tell.
When people, both employers and employees, can move freely around their communities and workplace, business will thrive. As Frydenberg said, “it is time to let business get back to business”.
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