Can HR spot signs that an employee is about to quit?

The 'great resignation' is now a global HR issue

Can HR spot signs that an employee is about to quit?

The ‘great resignation’ has gone global – and employers in Asia should prepare for a mass exodus of workers. It’s been about four months since management professor Anthony Klotz coined the term ‘great resignation’, explaining that the pandemic allowed professionals a reassessment of what they truly wanted out of their careers. This has pushed many employees to quit and look for jobs that best suited their needs.

While the trend seemed clearer and had greater buzz in regions like North America, a new study by LHH and The Adecco Group has revealed that employees everywhere, including in Asia, have been re-evaluating their careers and planning their exits.

Read more: How to avoid post-pandemic staff turnover

The study found that nearly two in five employees are already changing or considering new careers and 41% are considering moving to jobs with more flexible working options. A quarter of the workforce said they’d even consider moving to another country or region. About two-thirds of workers were confident that companies will ramp up hiring again, and less than half were satisfied with career prospects at their current company.

“The key word is ‘considering’,” said Anders Lundholm, managing director - Hong Kong at LHH. “What we’re seeing is actually not yet a ‘great resignation’ when it comes to non-hourly workers, but rather a ‘great re-evaluation’ in which salaried employees are seeing more possibilities available to them.” This puts “everything on the table”, added Lundholm. Hence, HR leaders and employers need to heed the signs that their top talent may be unhappy and remedy the situation as early as possible.

Read more: 10 warning signs your employee is about to quit

Burnt out and unhappy workers

Lundholm suggested that leaders found out what their employees are hankering for – and it’s most likely to do with increased demands for work-life balance. Their study found that with majority of employees well-adapted to remote working (82%), a large number (53%) desired some sort of hybrid model that allowed them the flexibility to stay remote in the post-pandemic workplace.

However, while they’ve managed to sustain productivity levels while working from home, well-being has taken a hard hit. More than half (54%) of employees reported suffering from burnout, with at least a third citing a decline in their mental and physical health in the past 12 months. Working from home has also deterred 40% of workers in China, for instance, from taking sick days.

Regardless, this hasn’t stopped employees from desiring more flexibility in deciding where and how they worked. What they’re looking for in ideal employers should simply include an increased focus on things like well-being and recognition at work, suggested the report.

Read more: Feeling low? 6 warning signs you’re burning out

Unsatisfied with company leadership

‘Always on’ culture aside, the study also found a wide disconnect and dissatisfaction between employees and company leaders. Findings showed that more than half (57%) of employees were unsatisfied with senior leadership decisions. Staff were particularly unhappy with decisions and actions around company culture and career advancement opportunities. The report found that:

  • Less than half were satisfied with career prospects at their company
  • Only 37% of employees said their company was effectively investing in developing their skills
  • Only 48% of workers said their managers met or exceeded expectations for encouraging a good working culture
  • Just 50% of workers said their managers met or exceeded expectations for supporting their work-life balance
  • About 67% of employees said leaders don’t meet their expectations for checking on their mental well-being

Read more: One third of employees feel disconnected from their leaders

In China, majority (78%) of employees believe that a more authentic leadership style focused on empathy and a supportive attitude will be critical in the post-pandemic workplace. However, a mere 27% had faith that their company would be able to provide that.

To bridge the gap, companies and HR needs to coach their leaders so that they can better identify and address issues that could otherwise become the reason employees leave. “Companies need to recognise the warning signs that great talent could soon be walking out the door and address demands for increased work-life balance and career advancement opportunities,” said Lundholm.

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