How businesses can focus on employees to avoid The Great Resignation

By Hyther Nizam, President, MEA, Zoho Corporation

Across the globe, The Great Resignation has become a source of concern among businesses. It refers to the unprecedented number of workers quitting their jobs in the Covid-19 and post-pandemic eras.

In Nigeria, businesses have recently seen their fair share of voluntary employee resignations. Most notable was the “big quit,” an exodus of top tech talents from Nigerian Banks. Nigerian millennials and Gen Zers, who comprise a large percentage of job-hoppers, also account for the majority of the young workforce population in the country. Now, they are re-evaluating their working experiences after the hard hit of the pandemic. The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey reveals that the youngest generations in the workplace are now seeking balance, prioritising happiness, and expressing higher expectations for compensation.

With an unemployment rate just over 33%, you may think few employed Nigerians can really afford to leave their jobs. But the truth is, even here, employers aren’t immune to The Great Resignation. Thanks to the rise of remote work, Nigerian workers (especially those with in-demand skills) can truly compete in the global job market, and not limit themselves to regional roles. They have faced many of the same pressures as other workers around the world as a result of the pandemic, meaning they have the same temptations to start their own businesses or enter the freelance market.

What can businesses do to avoid losing employees to the Great Resignation? While the answer may vary depending on industry and market, one universally key solution is to earn employee support.

The importance of employee loyalty

Before digging into how organisations can earn employee support, it’s important to remember why it matters. Losing an employee can take a big toll on your company (with the effect magnified for smaller organisations). On average, it takes 41 days to fill a position. That’s 41 days other people in the business have to do all of a former employee’s duties in addition to their own.

Further, replacing an employee can be incredibly expensive. According to analytics and advisory company, Gallup, it can cost one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary to replace them. Whichever way you cut it, you could give that employee a substantial salary increase and it would still be more financially viable than replacing them.  

It’s also worth pointing out that there’s a positive correlation between good employee experiences and good customer experiences. That makes sense—a single positive interaction with an employee can dramatically alter how a customer perceives and experiences the company. The chances of a positive interaction taking place are much slimmer in companies that have high levels of employee turnover and a lack of institutional experience.

Building employee support

With that in mind, how should companies go about building the employee experiences they need to ensure they have the full support of their workers?

The HR team can leverage cloud technology and implement a comprehensive human resource management system (HRMS) in order to automate most of their mundane manual tasks. Through HRMS, an organisation can also create a self-service model so employees have a single portal for various activities, such as applying for leave and adding medical claims. By creating workflows, the company can ensure that when a request is raised, the appropriate approver is automatically notified. Automating processes will free up the HR team to focus on employee engagement activities.  

Rethinking talent acquisition

The rise of remote work as a result of the pandemic saw many people leave big cities for smaller towns and villages. For some, the move was inspired by the prospect of a better quality of life; for others it was about being closer to family.

Rather than lament the loss of centralised offices in big cities, smart organisations should see this as an opportunity. Instead of fighting over the same pool of talent available in metro cities, they can create opportunities for those living in non-urban centres or rural areas, and invest in skill development.

At Zoho, for instance, we have always believed that talent is everywhere, though opportunities are not. We have traditionally hired people from all backgrounds, and opened offices away from city centres in order to tap under-utilised talent in smaller towns and rural areas. We expanded this approach during the pandemic by opening smaller, satellite offices wherever we had enough employees residing, instead of prompting them to come back to the office. We have been hiring locally in these satellite offices. By creating opportunities in the sought-after tech sector in non-urban and rural areas, we help communities retain talent and flourish. This adds a sense of purpose to the job, which also helps in retaining talent.

The right (virtual) environment

Even if an organisation meets its employees’ needs when it comes to working location, it’s still important for it to provide the best possible working environment (even if it’s a virtual one).

One of the most effective ways of doing this is to take a considered approach to the software solutions your employees work with on a daily basis. Rather than a patchwork of software solutions, for example, organisations can benefit from a unified enterprise software suite that meets all their needs—from documentation, to meetings, to CRM. In an increasingly hybrid work environment, keeping data and processes on a unified system leads to better visibility and fosters cross-functional collaboration.

A holistic approach

Employers looking to ensure that their businesses do not fall prey to The Great Resignation need to have an understanding of the concerns Gen Z and millennial employees have with respect to the workplace and their career paths. They should be deliberate in creating a flexible working experience where the employee can thrive in a globally competitive environment.

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