Car Next Door's head of culture: How to navigate the Great Resignation – and emerge stronger

There's a talent drought on our shores – how can HR leaders stay one step ahead?

Car Next Door's head of culture: How to navigate the Great Resignation – and emerge stronger

Experts predict that the great resignation will hit Australia shores around March 2022, but Melanie Cole, head of people & culture at Car Next Door thinks it may be even sooner. The talent market is very competitive at the moment, and that’s definitely something concerning a lot of businesses, Cole told HRD.

“And I think it’s why it has become such a big topic of conversation,” she added. “A lot of people teams are sort of scrambling at this point, thinking we’re all going to lose half our headcount in March. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on whether it's going to happen here or not and what that is going to look like.’’

Why are people resigning?

The pandemic has refocused people’s priorities, Cole believes - with lockdowns forcing people to really review what’s important in their lives.

“There’s been a lot of interest looking at purpose driven roles, people looking at values of companies,” she told HRD. “People are aligning their intrinsic values with those of companies – that’s become a lot more important to people.”

At the beginning of the pandemic many companies' value propositions were focused around the office. When those in-person perks were stripped away, people were left with the bare bones of their daily job allowing them to see their priorities more clearly. With the talent market at a competitive high and looking to become more so in a Great Resignation scenario, the emphasis will swing more strongly to employers to attract and retain the best talent, and away from job seekers vying for the best positions.

“Being in tech, it's very competitive, more competitive than pre-pandemic,” added Cole. “It's a very candidate driven market, and organisations are competing for top talent. This combined with people not being able to come to here to work, has made it even more difficult.’’

HR coming to the fore

The pandemic highlighted the value of HR and people roles to both businesses and senior leaders – proving definitively that strategies around wellbeing, development and retention are vital to retaining and attracting talent. People's roles have also become really important during the pandemic too – with employees realizing their value in a candidate-led market.

Management Training

A big part of Car Next Door's current wellbeing strategy is helping to develop managers' skills in staff wellbeing so they can adequately support people - and have conversations early on when someone is unhappy or unwell.

“I think there’s so much value to have those people in the business – the one’s you’re able to have honest conversations with, training managers to be empathic, and allowing people to feel psychologically safe within a business.”


Providing development opportunities for people and opportunities for the future should remain a priority, even in times of such changes.

“Sometimes it's hard to do that in mid-sized businesses because the organisation structure can be quite flat,” added Cole. “And sometimes people can’t see where the next opportunity or the development opportunities will be for them.”

Flexible and hybrid Working

There’s no denying that the pandemic has meant flexibility and hybrid working are here to stay, as employees now expect to have options available to them globally.

“People now realise that it's more about workplace flexibility,” said Cole. “Car Next Door has always been hyperflexible. For me it's about ensuring that your management layer is set up to be working flexibly, having the right technology is really important in supporting teams, having frameworks, manager support, and also trust.”

Cole will be speaking at our upcoming HR Leaders Summit Australia in 2022 – alongside other industry leaders. Check out our agenda and book a ticket here.

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