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In recent times you may have noticed an influx in mainstream media articles relating to ‘The Great Resignation’ which references a phenomenon that is sweeping the globe with what appears to be the corporate response to the pandemic and the toll it has taken on many business professionals. Reports suggest that 85% of Australian employees admit to experiencing burnout during the pandemic as freedoms in our daily routines, social interactions and human contact were stripped away from us and replaced by lockdowns that offered no distinction between work and personal lives and no outlets to create a work life balance. Our motivation for the daily grind has undoubtedly dwindled, just as our economy has since the pandemic reached our shores.

Being restricted from going into the office, unable to work out at the gym, no longer able to eat at a restaurant, being told we cannot visit friends and family… abruptly our normal lives came to a halt and activities we considered normal were now luxuries that we had to give up in order to stay safe. The way we lived our lives were so severely impacted with no notice, we suddenly found much more time and inclination to question our purpose and whether we were actually living our ‘dreams’. We started to question if there was more to life than just eat, sleep, work, repeat. Our careers were now under the microscope.

Roy Morgan research shows that 70% of Australian’s had their employment impacted by Covid-19 in some way, including but not limited to reduced pay, loss of hours, no work, stood down periodically, working from home or redundancy. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that one in five Australians reported experiencing high levels of psychological distress as a result of the pandemic. The mental health of Australian’s has suffered, with everyday Aussies stressing over the lack of job security, excess workloads, inability to balance work commitments and downtime and the restrictions associated with interacting and engaging with our own social support networks.

Throughout the pandemic, business owners and executives were forced to restrict office attendance, make rushed, unplanned and often complicated and cumbersome technological shifts and were fearful of the impact the virus would have on profitability often leading to reductions in the labour force and budget allocations. These changes happened swiftly with little strategic direction, consultation, or consideration of the long-term impacts. This shift prompted a dramatic rise in burnout amongst executives that were expected to hold the fort, the financial pressure and emotional toll on those that had their hours restricted, while those who were stood down or asked to work for reduced pay were also feeling the pinch.

Interestingly, many industries, particularly the property and construction sector the workload and demand levels did not diminish, instead escalated. An article by confirms that the housing crisis and massive increase on price growth is a direct response to Covid-19. While the QBCC identifies the impact on the new housing market due to supply shortages and unprecedented demand for trades due to the influx in building demand and supply chain issues directly linked to the pandemic. These industries among others have been great case studies for situations where staff have been required to carry excessive workloads to compensate for staff cuts and the prevalence of unpaid overtime for employees that had hours cut yet were still required to complete a fulltime workload. It is certainly understandable that this scenario would lead to an increase in professional burnout and distress, yet the phenomenon is not limited to these industries.

As many states and territories started easing restrictions and the green light to return to the office in some capacity was given, we saw strong resistance from workers reluctant to return to ‘work’ as we once knew it. Many staff members were struggling with the idea of enduring the commute after months of not having to fight the daily congestion, the motivation to get back into a routine for some was overwhelming, while the fear associated with being thrown back into social interactions and critical engagement after so long in isolation was dauting. This coincided with an ongoing attempt to future proof businesses, further increasing workloads for existing labour forces as companies attempt to lift their tangible and face-to-face services to online and cloud-based platforms where feasible.

Studies across Australia and New Zealand suggest that key contributors to the Great Resignation include lack of recognition, engagement, and poor leadership capability. Since the pandemic, employees are expecting more from their employer in terms of how they are supported on a daily basis including flexibility, recognition and strong leadership and direction. International studies suggest that 63% of employees who are recognised for their efforts are unlikely to look for a new job as they feel more secure and satisfied. The rise of the Great Resignation has certainly shown that countless business cultures have not been strong enough to withstand the shift in employee mentality and their need for appreciation and recognition, lifestyle balance and flexibility and the need for clear and concise direction and communication from leaders.

In many cases, the Great Resignation is symbolic of employees escaping their toxic relationship with their employer, again highlighting the importance of company culture, strong and strategic management plans, and transparent communications at all levels. Australian's want to know they are making an impact in their workplace, but they don't want to be chained to a desk or have their performance measured by their office arrival and departure times. People want to be part of a bigger picture and know they are contributing to the success of the business. To allow employees to achieve these things, the business must have clear vision with goals and targets for staff to work towards, there must be metrics in place to measure activity, there must be a system to acknowledge and recognise performance while also being able to recognise and shift underperformance.

If you need help developing strategic plans, want to work on identifying and strengthening your corporate culture while improving staff retention and boost efficiency and productivity then contact me today! We can do a 5 step business audit to understand the areas of your business that can put you on track to becoming an employer of choice!


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