The great resignation

27th of July 2022
The great resignation

As we emerge from the pandemic a new phenomenon known as ‘The Great Resignation’ has emerged. In order to adapt to the changing landscape of the world of work the cleaning sector must work hard to increase employee retention and avoid even higher levels of staff turnover.

In addition to its impact on health, the Covid-19 pandemic has also hugely affected the world of work. Indeed, many industries have suffered under multiple lockdowns and a struggling economy, and the cleaning industry is no exception.

As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re also starting to deal with the long-term effects of lockdowns, remote working and furlough. Now, workers are starting to reevaluate the trajectory of their lives and how they feel about their jobs, leading to the phenomenon known as The Great Resignation. Ultimately, to adapt to the changing landscape of the world of work, the cleaning industry and many other service industries such as hospitality and retail need to figure out how to increase employee retention and avoid out-of-control employee turnover.

You’ve probably heard the term The Great Resignation on the news over the past few months. It refers to the phenomenon of employees quitting their jobs en masse, which started in the USA last year. Since then, The Great Resignation has spread across the globe, encouraging thousands - and even millions - of workers to give up on jobs that didn’t make them feel fulfilled or appreciated.

But why is this happening? There are many reasons why we think that these mass resignations are occurring now. First of all, the pandemic has certainly had a huge influence on this upheaval. Despite the efforts of governments to protect businesses during lockdowns, such as through furlough schemes, many companies have decided to cut jobs. In fact, between March 2020 and April 2021, 800,000 workers lost their jobs in the UK.

This job insecurity caused by the pandemic has encouraged many people to reevaluate their careers and think about what would make them happier. The tragic loss of life during the pandemic has also increased this sense of dissatisfaction that people have with their careers by reminding them that life is short and shouldn’t be spent doing something that makes you unhappy.

Now, with businesses encouraging or even forcing people to return to their offices, another long-term effect of the pandemic has been revealed. Lockdowns have shown us many jobs can be performed perfectly well at home, and since remote work often means more time with family and less time and money spent on commuting, people are unwilling to be forced back into the office when it’s not necessary. As a result, many people are quitting their jobs.

And with the rapid rise in inflation and household bills, it’s no surprise that people want to quit jobs that offer disappointing salaries and not enough opportunities for promotions and career growth. This is a particular problem in industries such as hospitality and retail, which are seeing very high resignation rates due to low pay and stressful conditions.

How to retain employees?

Due to the importance of hygiene during the pandemic, cleaners have faced a much higher workload and increased stress. However, this burnout has also been felt by all industries due to rapid shifts in how people work and the stress caused by a global, once-in-a-lifetime crisis. So, how can businesses improve employee well-being and thus improve employee retention in the wake of The Great Resignation?

Increase wages - faced with skyrocketing costs of living, people will be unwilling to stay in jobs where their pay is insufficient and unlikely to increase in the near future. Not offering raises to at least offset the rapid rise in inflation is a real-term pay cut for your employees, which certainly won’t make them feel appreciated after all their hard work throughout the pandemic.

To make the process of paying your employees and awarding raises and bonuses run more smoothly, you should invest in payroll software that’s reliable and hassle-free. With this software, you’ll be able to access accurate reports on your payroll finances and reduce your paperwork, benefitting you and the environment.

Offer remote/hybrid work - although this option isn’t feasible in every industry, a great way to increase employee retention is to offer the opportunity to work from home, either full-time or part-time. The pandemic has demonstrated that many tasks previously performed in an office could be done at home equally well, removing the need for time-consuming, expensive commutes. This has led to many people preferring to work remotely.

Businesses forcing employees to come back into the office when they can do their job from home has been a huge factor in people’s decisions to quit. Therefore if you want to retain employees, you should offer fully remote and hybrid positions where possible. This is a huge change, but businesses need to adapt to the new world of work or risk having a high employee turnover.

Offer other benefits too - wages are obviously extremely important to employees, but this isn’t the only factor that can convince them to stay. Indeed, a job with high wages but a toxic and stressful work environment isn’t going to encourage employee retention.

Other benefits you can offer to make your business more attractive as a place to work are flexible hours, more holidays and a generous sick leave policy. These perks will make your employees feel valued and will also reduce stress.

Respect the work-life balance - increasing holidays and being more flexible are ways that you can show respect for your employees’ work-life balance. One of the major reasons why people quit their jobs is because they feel overworked and stressed out, and with the rise of remote work during the pandemic, many people have had their working days increase even further as there’s not enough separation between work and personal life. Burnout and overwork are also prevalent in industries that weren’t remote during the pandemic, such as cleaning and healthcare.

To prevent burnout among your workforce due to overwork, you should respect their boundaries by not allowing work matters to spill over into people’s free time. This means encouraging employees to always log off on time at the end of the day, not sending emails outside of office hours, and not pushing people to do overtime by assigning too much work.

Try a four-day working week - to really improve your employees’ work-life balance and thus increase employee retention rates, you might want to trial a four-day working week. A shorter working week could reduce burnout and stress, while still maintaining or even boosting productivity.

The idea of a four-day working week has generated a lot of buzz in the past few years. Although it has not yet become mainstream, countries such as Sweden and Iceland have trialled this idea and found many benefits for both employees and businesses. It also gained traction in the wake of the pandemic. Increased levels of burnout and stress have led to calls for reduced working hours and a three-day weekend to improve people’s health and well-being.

Some believe a shorter working week could benefit both employees and businesses, offering a way to improve employee retention, but how is this possible? Here are the perceived benefits:

• Improving work-life balance and reducing burnout by giving employees more time to rest and enjoy their hobbies
• Increasing productivity by making employees less stressed and more well-rested; happier and healthier employees produce higher-quality work
• Improving the economy by giving people more free time to spend money, by going on short breaks for example
• Protecting the environment by reducing commutes and giving people more time to make eco-friendly lifestyle changes - this could reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 127 million tonnes per year.


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