How Can SMEs Overcome The Great Resignation of 2021

How Can SMEs Overcome The Great Resignation of 2021

As the recent pandemic struck the world and the global workforce, workers worldwide are opting to quit their jobs due to the evolving frustrations with their work environments, workload and looking for better opportunities elsewhere.

The Great Resignation started as a hype. In Malaysia, it worked towards a movement, particularly in the blue-collar workforce and the service industry, which led to a similar trend found in the white-collar workforce.

A study by the 2021 Employee Movement and Retention report showed that out of 1004 employees, most of them liked (45%) or loved (24%) their job, and only 4% said they disliked or hated their job – this proves that it is not their work that is the issue.

In exit interviews conducted by FWG, most employees reported that some of the reasons they have chosen to leave the organisation include the lack of engagement with their respective organisations, lack of respect and recognition for their work, and lack of flexibility and welfare for the employees.

Understandably, businesses suffer the impact quite severely here in Malaysia and, as a result, have not been able to care for their employees accordingly.

However, the employees’ lack of engagement and welfare has resulted in more and more people leaving their positions. In turn, organisations find it hard to retain good, quality talents – which can be essential to rebuild and maintain their finances and the quality of work produced after the pandemic.

Leaders of various organisations are now at a crossroads between balancing employee retention and financial results, radically hinged on employee engagement. Organisations may choose to invest more in their workforce in terms of a work-life balance and development to keep their employees happy and, in turn, hold onto the quality talent they need.

It is vital to recognise that job roles and team dynamics have changed considerably especially post pandemic. To retain top talents and maintain a sustainable business, organisations need to start investing in their workforce and acknowledging their needs for rest and work life balance.

A work-life balance has become increasingly important for most people. It has become an essential factor most employees look for, especially in caring more for their mental health and general well-being.

Companies can take a pivotal step to empower their employees through training to improve their work and increase productivity with minimal time. This step can be an advantage to the company and the employee as they improve their skills and maximise productivity for themselves and the company where they work, but this may differ.

Another critical factor that retains good talent is benefits. For SMEs, this can be difficult as sometimes their financial results may not be sufficient to provide the benefits employees require. However, companies can still do this in innovative ways with creativity.

They can opt for mid-term increments, ad-hoc bonuses, and investing in their personal development. Learning a language relevant to their job, like the English language, or giving them a chance to learn a new skill that interests them might be helpful too.

Companies have to acknowledge that the cost of attrition comes with the loss of knowledge and the time needed to train someone new. Hence, companies have to realise that without upskilling their workforce, it can be challenging to support the business growth and, in turn, financial profits due to lost time and effort.

Growing companies, especially SMEs, should start employing tailored, innovative approaches to retain their best talents – having more engagement, monetary benefits, and a work-life balance.

Mental health has also increasingly become a core factor for employees’ decision to stay or leave a particular job. Therefore, an understanding of their lives, responsibilities and their mental health while trusting them to do their job effectively is also crucial for companies to retain their top talents in the light of the Great Resignation.

As flexibility becomes an essential requirement for employees during and after the pandemic, it can be helpful for organisations to explore the different facets of the flexible work model that may be suitable for their employees, especially for those who have to care for their families.

In this case, HR departments play an essential role in finding out what works for the organisation and its employees in the long run to create a sustainable balance between productivity, work-life balance, and financial results.

Some companies may prefer a 4-day work week, with more working hours in a day (12 hours instead of 8 hours) or choose a 3-2-2 day work week where the employees are required to come to the office for three days, work remotely for two days and have two days off.

Employees are allowed to structure their schedules that work around their everyday lives, which have improved productivity, satisfaction, and attendance without compromising the quality of work required of them at the workplace.

As SMEs explore different ways to stay afloat during and after the pandemic, job roles have also relatively increased for many employees who now have to juggle more than one job at a time for an organisation.

While this can be quite taxing for an employee, it can be pretty valuable for both the employer and employee if managed correctly.

Companies should take time with their performance reviews with their employees to find out if there is a skill they’d like to learn and create a succession plan that allows them to explore their strengths and interests to take on a new role they might like.

Leaders should look at the market and look for better ways to improve their workforce. Encouraging employees to discover new skills and knowledge that can sustain them, in the long run, can prove to be a win-win situation as they learn and grow with the company.

There will be better retention of top talents as they improve their career growth, increase knowledge and improve the value of their skills, all with a company that supports and encourages them through and through.

Businesses can benefit from this as their top talents may bring a new perspective and way of work to the workforce, especially in different departments.

A fresh pair of eyes often brings better ideas. With this, SMEs can significantly sustain themselves more efficiently with a more refined and skilled workforce as well as a positive mindset. A unique perspective to growing ideas and creative solutions – provided that the employees have the flexibility they require to learn and grow at their own pace.

The Great Resignation of 2021 may seem like a big bump on the road. Still, with the correct approach, both employers and employees can benefit from adapting to new changes and taking on a fresh perspective to overcome this challenge, sustain the business and ensure that they retain the best talents in the long run.



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