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How to reduce the risk of employees leaving after a pandemic? – E-xecutive


Dmitry Arkhipov

Development Director, JPL Telecom, Moscow

Experts predict that businesses will lose billions of dollars due to increased staff turnover following the pandemic. Why is this happening and what measures need to be taken today?

IT-sector specialists are massively thinking about dismissal. The reasons are inadequacy of the remote work model, lack of communication in distributed teams, emotional and professional burnout. Unfortunately, this trend has to be considered not only within the boundaries of the high-tech market but also in other areas of business.

The marketing research and analytics agency Opinium together with Personbio, a developer of HR software, conducted a study of employee satisfaction in companies in the UK and Ireland. During the study, 500 managers and more than 2 thousand employees were interviewed.

As a result, experts predict that an increase in staff turnover during the pandemic and immediately after the stabilization of the economy can lead companies to losses of up to $24 billion. The reason is that four out of ten employees plan to change jobs in the next 6-12 months, or as soon as the situation with the coronavirus returns to normal. Among people aged 18 to 34, more than half turned out to be such, and almost 60% of respondents engaged in IT and programming are currently considering other offers.

At the same time, 45% of employers, although they are concerned about the upcoming layoffs, do not report on planning an employee retention strategy and do not set goals for changes in the current personnel policy. Analysts, in turn, try to identify the existing problems and think about ways to solve them that would reduce the damage to the business.

What prevents employees from working remotely: three problems

1. The number of communication tools is growing, the convenience and efficiency of use are falling. The pandemic has led to a significant increase in the popularity of services for communication and information exchange in distributed teams. Explosive growth is observed even in areas that are traditionally considered conservative, and where new technologies are slowly penetrating. However, not all employees were ready for the emergence of new communication tools, and most importantly — there is no alternative need to use them. The obvious consequence of this was the increased stress experienced by employees. The problem is especially noticeable when it comes to communication, not within the team, but when communicating with departments that prefer different communication tools and unwittingly impose their use on each other. As a result, more than a third of employees say that they are forced to “use too many digital tools for work,” and the same number of respondents said that they have a negative impact on productivity.

2. We exchange messages more, but we don’t get closer to the team. Not all companies, when switching to remote work, we’re able to minimize the disadvantages of this model and provide employees with a technical base of software products and gadgets for full-fledged communication. Despite all the advantages of the text format — correspondence by email and in messengers-it also has obvious problems with the speed of reaction to events, the convenience of exchanging opinions of several people at the same time, and the almost complete lack of emotional coloring. As a result, even with a large number of correspondence, employees often begin to feel disconnected from colleagues. And the inability to quickly discuss something with a colleague or hold an urgent team meeting aggravates the situation.

3. In isolation from the team, the importance of corporate culture decreases. Employers and HR departments of companies tend to believe that they are coping well with the changes in the workflow imposed by the pandemic. However, employees themselves are less likely to agree with this thesis, which is why the gap between superiors and subordinates increases, and staff loyalty to the employer decreases. In particular, after months of working from home, many people note the lack of career prospects, lack of recognition of their merits, weak management in teams, suspension of promotions or salary cuts, as well as boring tasks. Altogether, this encourages us to think about changing the employer, where there will be new challenges, there will be an opportunity to build a different workflow and communication with colleagues.

What if it’s not money?

In the current economic situation, not every business is able to offer employees growth and even maintaining the same salary. So, it is worth looking for other ways to increase motivation and strengthen attachment to the employer. The right solution may be the reorganization and optimization of management. In the conditions of remote work, the value of managers increases, whose involvement in the workflow will be visible to employees, and they will not have the feeling that they are simply being “looked after”remotely.

Training begins to play an important role when the employer encourages the improvement of competencies and even initiates it himself by offering to take courses and gain knowledge and experience for vertical or horizontal growth within the company for new professional challenges and solving the problem of routine tasks.

Restrictions on benefits

As we have already noted, the increase in the number of software tools for communication and the freedom of their choice in the long term can negatively affect communication within the team and between departments. Building the most appropriate methodology for exchanging opinions and information will help employees improve the quality of communication, reduce the stress of having to master new services, and reduce the flow of notifications that increase the overall stress in the workflow. In some cases, it makes sense not just to make recommendations on the choice of tools, but even to veto the addition of new services to the working communication without good reason.

Investments in equipment

Another important solution for retaining employees, strengthening the corporate culture, and increasing loyalty to the employer will be investments in the technical equipment of home and hybrid workplaces. Some managers consider it a reasonable way to save money using the BYOD policy (bring or use your own device), when employees themselves are responsible for choosing gadgets for work. In some cases, this is beneficial, for example, when an employee can use a familiar smartphone or laptop.

However, employees do not always have the right equipment, or its quality and functionality do not correspond to professional tasks. In the models of hybrid and remote work, the quality of communication within the team, as well as communication with customers and contractors, is of great importance, so managers should correctly assess the capabilities of employees to provide themselves with everything necessary. In particular, these are webcams and headsets for calls and video conferences.

The initiative to equip domestic workers with the necessary equipment will show the importance of the employee for the company and will increase his vision of his value for the employer. And the investment is likely to be significantly lower than the cost of finding and training new people.

In conclusion

The dissatisfaction of employees with their current work and the willingness to search for vacancies found in IT companies in the UK and Ireland should clearly be considered a global problem of any country and business sector in the context of a pandemic. The transition to remote and hybrid work highlighted many problems in management, remote communication of teams, shortcomings of HR departments, insufficient encouragement of employees, an excess of digital communication tools, and a lack of technical equipment for home workplaces.

All this requires attention from employers. It is necessary to develop a strategy for retaining key employees since it is always cheaper and more efficient to keep professionals inside the company than to save money in the short term, and later face the task of finding a large number of new employees.

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