Why throwing money at the Great Resignation won't fix it

Employees aren't leaving for higher wages – they're craving these three changes

Why throwing money at the Great Resignation won't fix it

With the great resignation underway, companies are exploring all different types of options to keep employees engaged, happy and wanting to stay. From company paid retreats to share options (where possible) to allowing employees to work they want right up to ‘bring your pet to work’ scenarios, it seems the pendulum has fully shifted to the worker demand.

Employee retention

“Employee retention comes down to three main components that surprisingly have nothing to do with money,” Genevieve McMullen, People and Culture Manager for Talkagency.com.au, said. “Which tends to be the first track people think of when discussing employee retention. Firstly, you need to ensure team members feel valued. Without this they start to ask themselves, what's the point of me being here? How do I contribute? 

“Secondly, you need to be open and transparent as a business. This is both as a manager and as a business. To be open is to let them into the business side of things, good and bad. Allowing team members to feel they are part of something bigger and know what is going on. 

“Thirdly, you need to prove employees with a career plan. If a career plan isn't structured with the employee rather than for them, why should they stick around? What is in it for them long term? A good clear career plan can make all the difference.”

Is the grass greener?

The reality is, even with a structured career plan, an employee may decide that the grass is greener on the other side due to the fact that they may want more variation in the work, see the potential new company as having more upside, or are offering more flexible conditions.

“Some workers will leave regardless of how well you treat them,” McMullen said. “Of course, this is a fact of life and something that no business should ever begrudge an employee for. People are people at the end of the day, they are going to find other jobs that they are passionate about, their circumstances may change and they need to go after a job with more money - and the business may not be able to provide that. 

“Businesses should be focusing on what they can do today to make work fun, productive and a healthy environment for everyone. And if people choose to leave, never burn a bridge and write them a fantastic reference.”

McMullen says individual attention, autonomy, a culture of inclusiveness, clear and constant communication and flexibility are all keys in employee happiness and potential retention with human resources playing a significant role.

“Human resources is more of a facilitator and a keeper,” she said. “They ensure that team leaders and managers are being open and honest with staff, that career plans are being utilised to the best of their ability. To pulse check with individuals throughout the business to ensure that they are happy with the way things are and what the business can do to help them. Human resources also has the responsibility to come up with ways the culture can continue to thrive.”

Change in priorities – happiness comes first

Rebecca Maher runs a financial wellbeing company called Proforce Wealth Management and says with global travel now open again, graduates have different expectations to what was previously the norm.

“Graduate application numbers have been unusually lower this year and attrition rates higher than usual,” Maher said. “There are several interconnected reasons, a leading factor though is that young jobseeker values have changed. This cohort - Gen Y and Gen Z - are ready to prioritize their overall happiness above their career. 

“This is wonderful from a personal development point of view, but quite honestly a little scary from an employer’s point of view. Talent is key to long term organisation growth and success. Early talent in particular, provides fresh blood, fresh ideas and fresh perspectives and the opportunity to build a more robust organizational culture shaped by those that forge a career within the organisation.”

Global travel

Another temptation for graduates is the desire to see another part of the world. With international travel back on the agenda, the opportunity to either casually roam the globe for a year or find a company with international offices, is very appealing.

“Now that travel has opened up again, the world is calling them back,” Madden added. “There are many exciting start-ups in FinTech, HealthTech, RegTech, FamTech and the list goes on. These industries are not just offering not just an exciting pay packet but a role filled to the brim with exactly what they are looking for - purpose. 

“You need to get smart. Be Different. Offer benefits in alignment with their purpose outside of the work they do for your organisation. Offer benefits that support their personal goals outside of work. 

“Show them you care and care about them as a person and the things that are important to them individually, and that they are just not another employee.”

The battle is on to win the minds and hearts of the Gen Z. The question is: how does your business stack up in their eyes?

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