Organisations must close the gap between employee needs and business priorities to stop the Great Resignation

A man leading a business meeting
(Image credit: Shutterstock/fizkes)

Recruiting the best talent has always been a key competitive advantage for businesses of all sizes. And while the pandemic has put a spotlight on employee wellbeing, it has also triggered “the Great Resignation" phenomenon, creating a war for talent in many sectors which are currently experiencing growth. A recent PwC survey found that almost a fifth of UK workers are seriously thinking of leaving their current job in the next 12 months, while research by McKinsey found that 40 percent of workers globally are thinking of leaving their jobs in the next 3 to 6 months. 

As “the Great Resignation” continues to play out, prioritising the employee experience is more important than ever before. However, our recent research into hybrid working and the investment priorities of businesses revealed that there is a significant gap between employee expectations and business priorities. According to the data work-life balance is one of the major areas of disconnect, with half of UK employees (50%) feeling concerned about the issue compared with just 23% of employers. Career progression in a hybrid working environment was another area that was a key issue for employees with 35% of employees being concerned about their prospects for career growth if they work remotely compared to just a quarter of employers.

About the author

Sarah Taylor is Vice President, Human Resources - International at Mitel

As businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to retain and attract talent, closing this gap will be key for improving employee engagement and loyalty. So how can HR professionals support business leaders in achieving that?

Organisations must get hybrid working right

First, organisations must get hybrid working right or they risk alienating their workforce. Recent research into the issue revealed that 77 percent of British workers consider flexible working as one of their top job perks. However, our data suggests that UK businesses are not prepared to deliver a seamless hybrid work experience despite the majority of their workforce demanding flexible working. The survey found that, despite initial responses to the pandemic, only 8% of UK organisations have a hybrid-first mindset, and 43% of UK businesses possess only basic hybrid work capabilities. 

To close this gap and enable a seamless experience between home and office working, HR leaders must help businesses assess the impact of hybrid working on processes, technology capabilities and organisational aspects. Fostering a sense of community and a culture of trust is made possible by ensuring that employees have opportunities for face-to-face and virtual connection. While regular video meetings are one avenue for achieving that, these can be complemented by asynchronous chat and purposeful face-to-face interactions to avert video fatigue. Collaboration technology can also encourage continuous feedback as a way of bridging the gap between employer-employee expectations. This can help HR professionals to introduce effective hybrid work policies that are tailored to employees’ needs and encourage regular communication both in-person and in the virtual environment.

Prioritise work-life balance

Ensuring a positive work-life balance is central to preventing employee burnout. While technology has decreased the need for employees to be tied down to a physical location, it has also blurred the lines between work and leisure. Effective collaboration between HR professionals and IT teams can help safeguard employee wellbeing. For instance, recommending measures to manage screen time, as well as promoting alternative collaboration technologies can form part of a range of policies to ward off digital overload. 

Businesses can also take advantage of efficiency gains from productivity and collaboration tools to avoid employee burnout. Bringing together disparate voice, video, messaging, and customer experience programs can help employees save the time and effort involved in application-switching and coordination. This simplification can promote better take-up of digital tools and ultimately yield dividends towards increased productivity.

Focus on the employee experience

The day-to-day employee experience, particularly when it comes to remote working, is strongly grounded in the technology they use. Therefore, creating a seamless, intuitive collaboration experience regardless of location is vital to employee engagement and satisfaction. 

The role of collaboration technology often remains overlooked when we talk about employee engagement and wellbeing. Our research shows that only a third of UK organisations have mature remote work practices and collaboration tools, while 75 percent of employees agree these tools help them perform more effectively. Closing this gulf by investing in collaboration technology represents a significant opportunity for business leaders to positively transform the employee experience. 

For organisations to attract the best talent, business leaders must focus on employee engagement and close the employer-employee divide. By prioritising work-life balance and by enhancing the employee experience both when working from home and in the office, businesses can build an engaged workforce that is more productive and more loyal.

Sarah Taylor is Vice President, Human Resources - International at Mitel.