‘Great Resignation’ boosts hybrid work

Last year's so-called 'great resignation', when staff quit their jobs at record rates, affected the vast majority of UK businesses and has resulted in firms now making staff retention and recruitment their top priority, according to new research.

work from home hybrid
Conducted by professional services consultancy Barnett Waddingham, the survey of more than 300 HR professionals found that only 15% of firms said they had not been affected by voluntary resignations during the pandemic in 2021.

Of the 85% who said they had been affected, almost a third said their operations had seen negative impacts on employee wellbeing as a result, including a fifth whose remaining employees had been left with unreasonable workloads.

Work from home becomes key for employee wellbeing

The 'great resignation' problems have been made harder to overcome at a time when the UK is experiencing record high job vacancy numbers and record low unemployment rates.

Barnett Waddingham found that 32% of businesses across all sectors of the economy had struggled to attract new talent and that 31% still had difficulties retaining staff.

David Collington, principal at Barnett Waddingham, said: “In the wake of the biggest shake up of workplace norms since the industrial revolution, organisations are scrabbling to keep up with the speed of change.

Companies are struggling to keep employees employed

“Control has shifted from the employer to the employee, and with that businesses have had to step up their game at every stage of the lifecycle, from attraction and recruitment through to retention. Beer fridges and ping-pong are not enough; the most effective businesses are making real structural changes to try to win the race for talent.

“In the eyes of many employees, hybrid working has moved from a luxury to a bare minimum. For C-suites and HR departments, effort now needs to be focused on making hybrid working work for all; balancing team cohesion and training with flexibility and freedom.

"Crucially, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Businesses need to be tracking employee sentiment and beliefs before they can deliver effective change.”

A survey of employees conducted by Barnett Waddingham last year found that a third of employees said they were willing to resign should their employer not agree to their choice of hybrid working arrangements.

Hybrid working = happy employers

The findings of this year's survey show that 59% attributed resignations in 2021 partly to workers' dissatisfaction with the organisation’s flexible or hybrid working policies.

As a result, 84% of businesses have now embraced a hybrid working model. "Not all of these are Covid-induced, though," added Barnett Waddingham, which found that 21% of respondents had always had a hybrid working model, and that 22% had introduced one before the pandemic.

Since the pandemic arrived, a further 27% had adopted flexible working models and another 13% are currently trialling one.

"Some companies have not shifted to a hybrid working model, for a variety of reasons: three per cent of all firms said they’d trialled it, but it hadn’t worked for them, and six per cent said it was not applicable for anyone in their organisation. A further five per cent said they were considering it for the future," said Barnett Waddingham.

"Of course, the shift does come with a cost to businesses - 77% of businesses who have shifted to a hybrid working model said the technology costs had been high, and 72% said the same of hardware costs."
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