The pandemic has left Australia’s workforce in a transient and reflective state. As a result, the so-called ‘great resignation’ has gathered momentum over recent months, with very few businesses and industries unaffected. Concerningly, recent data reveals that almost 60 per cent of Australian workers are considering new roles within the next year. Similarly, 72 per cent report a low sense of belonging and are open to a job switch.
Customers have long been considered the lifeblood for businesses, but equally so are employees. Attracting and retaining talent now requires the same proactive and progressive effort that companies put towards customer experience (CX). Most employees now see well past fancy company swag and look for solid proof of a company’s mission, morals and how it empowers employees to succeed. For many in Australia’s workforce, culture trumps perks.
Thanks to remote work and their ability to invest in a culture rather than perks, small businesses can provide the great employee experience (EX) that could see them better placed to survive the Great Resignation. So much so that smaller companies might move talent away from large ones. But what does great EX look like? How can smaller businesses use their size to their advantage? And why is it crucial for employers to be as proactive in investing in their current talent as they would their CX?
Small business democracy
No business is immune to the current skills shortages, even small businesses. Fortunately, small businesses can take advantage of their size, as they have leverage over large businesses when it comes to flexibility in the workplace and the ability to develop a stronger relationship with employees.
Most executives (66%) report designing post-pandemic workforce policies with little to no direct input from employees. Small business owners can control these workplace variables as they are holistically immersed in each aspect of the business and can work closely with their employees to understand what benefits would best suit them. Rather than creating policies from the top-down, therefore, small businesses can directly involve their employees in the process. By demonstrating that a business values their input, it’s building stronger bonds that incentivise loyalty.
What do employees want?
According to a 2020 Gallup Poll, millennials and Gen Z prioritise employers that care about their wellbeing, even before the pandemic. Employees prioritise work-life balance, with more than half of knowledge workers open to finding a new job and a substantial 71% unsatisfied with the level of flexibility they have in their current role.
If a small business can reasonably offer remote or hybrid work, it should definitely do so. Many people today do not want to choose between family and career, so business owners should find ways to mould their operations around their teams and what’s most important to them. Beyond this work-life balance, employees today want opportunities to grow and advance their careers. Hence, employers are eager to offer upskilling and training could be at an advantage in attracting potential staff.
Finding silver linings
Whilst the past 20 months have interrupted daily routines, many employees seized opportunities for personal and professional improvement that weren’t available to them before the pandemic. For example, almost a thirdclaimed they exercised more often, improved their diets, decluttered their homes and spent more time with family and friends. Following the pandemic, the change of mind regarding flexibility in the workplace set the clear expectation that employees wanted more out of their workplace. The businesses that maintain this commitment to employee flexibility and autonomy will be employers of choice in 2022.
The pandemic reinforced the importance of employees being adaptable and willing to pivot and learn new skills. Employers must be just as willing to adapt to the needs of their employees. Today, employers’ offerings are being questioned and assessed by potential employees, and the acceleration of the flexible workplace determines this as a preferred way of working.
Today, great EX isn’t just perks like fancy company swag; it’s more meaningful. Employees want a fresh start, and employers are looking for new ways to attract staff. Small businesses can’t compete with big businesses on perks; however, they can create an empowering, employee-first culture that conscientious Australian employees demand today.
So as the great resignation continues, small businesses can use their size to their advantage and find the silver linings to sustain their business. Just as great CX makes businesses a standout for customers, great EX can make it a standout for employees.
Read more: Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff