There’s barely a business sector that isn’t suffering from a shortage of skilled people. Attracting and retaining staff has become a major boardroom issue. Many employers have seen a high turnover in staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK along with countries overseas have witnessed the Great Resignation, with people in a post-pandemic environment choosing not to go back to their old jobs and old ways of working.
The cost of employee turnover
In the UK, data from Croner suggests the average cost of employee turnover is around £11,000 per person.
And, for senior staff, this figure rises to anywhere between £40,000 – £100,000.
Sanjay Raja, chief UK economist at Deutsche Bank, has been quoted as saying there are “historically elevated levels of workers leaving the labour market entirely” with the level of resignations being the highest since 2009.
Why are employees leaving?
While the factors are many and complex, one of the reasons is poor workplace conditions, and a feeling of helplessness in the face of wrongdoing in the workplace. Today, employees simply will not stand for it any longer.
The enforced isolation created by pandemic lockdowns provided a breathing space for employees to rethink their lives. Many of them have taken a premeditated, thought-through decision to change how they want to live and work.
The pandemic was the catalyst for employees to re-evaluate their working lives when they were being asked to return. It enabled people to reassess what they wanted from life, and many of them decided they did not want to return to their jobs and would either start looking elsewhere for work or drop out of working life altogether. This led to what has been termed the Great Resignation and has become the Great Attrition.
Businesses are suffering increased levels of workplace disengagement because there is high volatility in the employment market. The reasons are varied but poor working conditions is a key factor.
A report just prior to the pandemic, from the Film and TV Charity’s ‘Looking Glass research’, suggested 56% of employees believed they had suffered bullying in the previous year.
When you look at Google search results and see there are 20,000 searches for how to cope with ‘bullying in the workplace’ per year in the UK. So, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that some of the Great Resignation results from employees simply not being prepared to go back into those same poor working conditions. Would you want to work in a place where racism, sexism, fraud, bribery, bullying, discrimination, or violence might be occurring?
Employees can pick and choose
In short, for potentially the first time in their lives, employees felt they had a choice. If they didn’t like their workplace they voted with their feet, and they voted en masse. This upheaval in staffing has added extra costs to many companies which are already seeing inflationary pressures across the board.
Proactive senior executives are spending a lot of time and effort providing additional staff benefits, and improving working conditions, all in an effort to attract and retain employees.
Employee benefits packages are being beefed up.
Physical and mental healthcare cover is being added, along with social benefits such as gym membership, retail discounts, and additional sick and compassionate care benefits, as well as improving pay and flexible working hours.
They are also trying to improve the actual places the employee works in too, and that sometimes means preventing or dealing with some uncomfortable situations. For that, organisations often require whistleblowing services.
Here at Safecall, we’ve seen a significant increase in directors, general counsels, and HR managers approaching us to set up an external whistleblowing hotline. That’s because an outsourced hotline is quicker and easier to set up and start managing than creating and staffing one in-house.
Speed and reliability enable organisations to start communicating the benefits to their employees and show that they are trying to prevent or stop wrongdoing. Staff feel their managers are trying to do what’s right by them, and you should never underestimate the value of being seen to be a good employer in a world where the employee can just walk away and start work elsewhere.
A fully operational whistleblowing hotline can be up and running within 24-hours. That’s worldwide, with multiple offices or work locations, in nearly every language and dialect. Every single one of our call handlers is ex-police, and each has more than 25 years of experience in interviewing techniques.
No one is saying whistleblowing is the solution to employment issues facing businesses across Europe, the EU, or even just the UK, but it should be part of a package of measures that businesses can use to help retain their staff.
About the author: Tim Smith is Operations Director at Safecall.