The new year always sees an increase in employee churn. As your employees set goals for their personal growth in 2022, your role in their life will be scrutinised more than ever. Dubbed “massive Monday” the first Monday back at work after the year-end festivities sees a recruitment rush as record numbers of people seek out new opportunities, a trend that continues throughout January.
So, now it’s more vital than ever to check in with your employees and show them their value by listening to their needs and being proactive in your employee retention efforts.
Employee Churn: A Problem Intensified (Not Created) By The Pandemic
Much of the literature around the “Great Attrition” of 2021 centres around the pandemic. At this point in the history of humanity, you cannot ignore the impact of the pandemic on the recent employee churn rates, but it’s also crucial to acknowledge that employee attrition was also an issue pre-pandemic.
UK Office of National Statistics research found that between January 2017 and December 2018, industries saw an average of 45% employee turnover, and news reports in 2019 and early 2020 reported on the rising issue of employee turnover. So it’s important to frame the pandemic as something that intersects with a pre-existing issue.
That being said the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on employees both in their work and personal lives, impacting how they prioritise their careers and putting into question work practices that were previously taken as read. One of the seismic changes that resulted from the pandemic was the shift to remote working.
Remote Working: A Cure Or A Cause Of Employee Churn?
The pandemic forced companies to switch to what had, up until March 2020, been a novel and experimental way of working.
Initially, this setup was hailed by employees and employers alike. Employees enjoyed the increased flexibility afforded by working from home as well as the time and money saved on their commute to and from work. Despite initial trepidation, employers reported that productivity amongst their remote workers had actually increased. But as more research is conducted, these early reports are being called into question, and amongst employees, opinion is divided about whether working remotely or some hybrid solution, is the best way forward.
For every employee that’s grateful for the increased flexibility of working from home, another struggles to leave their home office at the end of the working day.
Then there’s the issue of social contact. Remote employees have to put in concerted energy to compensate for the lack of in-person interaction with their colleagues to build trust and communication.
This virtual interaction apparently falls short of in-person socialisation. According to a study by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) employees working remotely report increased levels of loneliness and mental distress, even amongst employees who don’t live alone. Though they were less subject to financial stressors.
Wellbeing and Burnout
Burnout is often oversimplified as having too much work for too long. But many factors lead employees to feel overwhelmed by their jobs. It’s important to acknowledge that when an employee reports burnout, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to delegate their work to others, or that they’re ill-equipped for the responsibilities entailed in their position.
Here are some examples of what can result in burnout:
Unclear expectations – Without clear direction, employees may struggle to manage their time wisely, and have to overcompensate with extra work once the purpose of their assignment is fully communicated to them.
Lack of influence – The employee doesn’t feel that they have a say in their jobs or any power to control their workload, their timetable, their resources or their assignments.
Stagnant activity – The employee feels inertia in their career. They are stuck doing the same monotonous tasks that don’t challenge them over months without a clear path of progression.
Chaotic activity – The flipside to stagnant activity. If an employee’s workload is overly chaotic, they may feel an overwhelming sense of instability, or that there are times when too much is expected of them.
Toxicity in the workplace – From a micromanaging boss to an undermining colleague, left unchallenged one toxic person can lead to multiple employee departures.
Work-life imbalance – Employees may feel that their employers do not respect their boundaries when it comes to creating a healthy work-life balance. They may be expected to be available for contact outside of their working hours, or they may feel that their “flexible working schedule” translates to always being on call for work-related issues.
This list is not exhaustive, and given the many varied reasons that contribute to employee churn, it’s safe to assume that multiple factors can influence an employee’s decision to leave. So how do you stop these factors in their tracks?
Employee Churn Prevention
Don’t wait for the exit interview to find out why your employees are unhappy. Long before employees decide to jump ship, they often give indirect cues to their dissatisfaction, even if they never directly communicate their dissatisfaction.
The role of any good leader is to identify these cues, use open communication to address them and put an action plan in place to overcome the employee’s individual obstacles.
It’s also important to spot trends within an organisation. Is there something impacting a number of your employees that needs to change at a fundamental level?
Symanto’s cutting-edge natural language processing technologies process written text from employee communications and can identify changes in sentiment. Symanto technologies give you insights at both a 1000ft and granular level so that you can identify employee churn risks both company-wide, and on an individual basis.