Talent shortage continues with almost half of employees set to quit this year

Here's what would make them stay

Talent shortage continues with almost half of employees set to quit this year

The war for great talent is continuing to strangle employers in Australia, with new research revealing almost half of the workforce is either actively looking for a new job or will be by the end of the year.

It seems 2021 is the year of new opportunities for workers after the uncertainty and instability of the last 12 months. The data from global employee engagement company Reward Gateway found 42% of the 3,809 employees and HR decision-makers surveyed said they planned to leave their jobs or would begin looking for a new role this year.

The closed borders mean Australia is almost entirely reliant on its existing population for the first time in decades, causing employers to double down on measures to retain and upskill their current workforce. The research found that 73% of employees would be more likely to stay in their jobs if employers increased the reward and recognition strategy on offer. Similarly, 96% of employers said competitive R&R is vital to retaining employees.

Read more: Flexible working: Is it given or is it earned?

Speaking to HRD, Robert Hicks, group HR director at Reward Gateway, said with two in five employees looking for a new job this year, employers need to gain a competitive edge if they want to win the war for talent.

“COVID has drastically changed the talent market,” he said. “It’s given employees an opportunity to reassess their job and employers the opportunity to hire from different locations now that they know employees can successfully work from anywhere.”

So how can employers edge ahead of their competitors to dominate the talent market? It starts with looking at what employees want – and importantly, how those priorities have changed as a response to the pandemic. Reward Gateway’s research identified the top five drivers as fair pay, flexible working, reward & recognition, trusted leadership and having a manager who cares about their employees.

Hicks said just because face-to-face contact is less frequent nowadays thanks to COVID-19, reward and recognition strategies should not suffer as a result.

“Maximising on technology means that recognition and reward can be more frequent and timely for employees, as opposed to annual service awards, for example, while also providing scalability through the automation of R&R,” he said.

“HR leaders are then equipped to focus their time on more strategic objectives and save costs, such as the printing of recognition certificates. We are also looking for HR leaders to use technology integrations to facilitate recognition to happen anywhere an employee is working, for example being able to send and receive moments of recognition through Microsoft Teams or Slack.”

Read more: Workplace COVID-19 vaccinations could begin in September

While salary and bonuses will always be a top draw for employees, the research shows monetary benefits are not the be all and end all. A well-rounded employee experience with supportive managers, the opportunity to work flexibly and a culture that rewards and encourages staff has arguably more power to attract and retain than salary alone.

In a hybrid world, reward and recognition must span both office and home, resulting in the same impact regardless of where employees are working from. Hicks urged HR leaders to double down on social recognition through new technologies, providing opportunities for greater connectivity, visibility across the business and a mechanism to strengthen company culture.

“We also advise adopting an integrated approach to R&R so that the user experience for employees is simplified and streamlined,” he said. “Last but not least, relatability and accessibility are key and that’s where choice plays a big part. Employees want rewards that impact their everyday living and their families. They need to be relevant, instant and meaningful.”

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