P

erhaps it is still too early to define the keyword of the year. However, we have certainly already crossed paths with the trend of the first quarter of 2022 in terms of People Management: Great Resignation or The Big Quit.

A brief overview of the phenomenon: a pandemic. Various confinements. New perspectives on the dynamics between work and personal life. Adaptive posture (or lack thereof) of companies. Disengagement and misalignment of purpose. Exits and search for new professional projects.

The Great Resignation, or The Big Quit, is the designation of a phenomenon of mass layoffs on the initiative of the employee. It emerged in the United States, quickly reaching Europe.

We would also like to reflect on this trend in Portugal. However, the lack of data collection and analysis - combined with a weak culture of attention and investment in off-boarding and exit processes - mean that Portugal does not have the tools to analyse this phenomenon rigorously. There is, to date, no relevant statistical data (either made available by public service bodies or by private institutions) that allow us to understand whether this phenomenon has also been replicated here and to which extent.

Even so, the projections for this year, measured in the Randstad Employer Brand Research 2022, reveal that 1 in 5 Portuguese (26%) intends to change jobs, with a more evident trend in women (28%), in those under 35 years old (31%) and in respondents with higher educational levels (28%).

Our sensitivity to the permanent and close connection to the market tells us that this is indeed true: people are more predisposed to look for a new project, fundamentally for reasons of company values ​​and company culture.

Our solution to the lack of concrete data and measurement of the phenomenon? Good exit interviews, streamlined in a logic of open dialogue and honest sharing, as well as a culture of data analytics applied to Human Resources and people management can, in fact, give us valuable insights into the reasons why people leave.

However, there is another point that we should also remember: more important than understanding why people leave, perhaps we should also be interested in answering the question “Why do people stay?”. Organisations often don't know enough about what each employee values ​​and what motivates them. This information is mostly and at best developed in exit interviews – a standard practice in HR departments to find out why talented people are leaving and what would have convinced them to stay. But why wait until they're on their way out?

However, there is another point that we should also remember: more important than understanding why people leave, perhaps we should also be interested in answering the question “Why do people stay?”. Organisations often don't know enough about what each employee values ​​and what motivates them. This information is mostly and at best developed in exit interviews – a standard practice in HR departments to find out why talented people are leaving and what would have convinced them to stay. But why wait until they're on their way out?

In a context where the market competes globally for the best talent, organisations have been increasingly focused on understanding what they don't have to offer, what they lack in terms of culture, benefits, work models and career options in order to attract and retain the best talent. However, the truth is that (with the exception of extreme cases) these companies have people who effectively value what exists there or who expect to be able to develop in their current work context. And if we are working in a certain company and decide to stay, it will certainly be for what it gives us.

Perhaps the employees who remain in the company value stability more than permanent innovation and appreciate more defined processes and more traditional methodologies. What if deciding between a hybrid and remote model is less important than focusing on training or internal progression perspectives? The same study mentioned above reveals that, in fact, remote work comes eighth on the list of factors valued when choosing an employer. Prior to this benefit, topics such as attractive salary and benefits, professional-personal balance, pleasant professional atmosphere, job stability, career progression, financial health and good education come up.

Research carried out by McKinsey International shows that factors such as a sense of inclusion, as well as appreciation by the organisation and by managers are more important to employees than what employers seem to appreciate. The reasons that make real talent stay in the organisation are, in essence, what constitutes its culture. And to reinforce this culture is to strengthen ties with the committed professionals who are part of it, providing a solid basis for attracting new profiles aligned with the project.

We can see that, in fact, the reason behind Great Resignation is based on a growing demand for flexibility and well-being. And flexibility is more than remote work or a 4-day work week. Flexibility reflects the ability of companies to provide employees with autonomy and freedom to decide more about their careers, their benefits, their purpose and mission, building a culture increasingly focused on performance and less on work logistics, whilst including the employees in the process, as they are also responsible for creating the conditions for this development and growth to take place.

We can see that, in fact, the reason behind Great Resignation is based on a growing demand for flexibility and well-being. And flexibility is more than remote work or a 4-day work week. Flexibility reflects the ability of companies to provide employees with autonomy and freedom to decide more about their careers, their benefits, their purpose and mission, building a culture increasingly focused on performance and less on work logistics, whilst including the employees in the process, as they are also responsible for creating the conditions for this development and growth to take place.

The principle behind this paradigm shift is based on the premise that one size doesn’t fit all, particularly when the work context is increasingly shared by a heterogeneity of generations, nationalities and career expectations.

The challenge for organisations will be to achieve a balance between the competitiveness and the stability of their culture. This culture must be flexible, so it can consider and accommodate the different motivations of its people, but sufficiently stable and solid so that those who enter and, above all, those who are already inside, also recognise the pillars of the organisation they integrate and see a future in their career there.

No company will be competitive in all aspects, in all benefits and at all times. Its competitive value essentially resides in its values, mission, purpose and people management philosophy. Employers must be flexible and people-centric to retain workers during the Great Resignation. However, they should also know that not all employees will stay.

It is also important to point out that in the talent attraction market, which is increasingly globalised, borderless, competitive and dynamic, the focus is more and more on the section of “what we have to offer” (rather than “what we are looking for”) and screening will increasingly be on the side of opportunities with the onus on the candidate and less and less on the applications.

The better the companies' awareness of what its value differential is, the clearer it will be, for those who apply, what will be the added value that each opportunity will bring to their professional path and, on the other hand, the more committed internal talent will be when seeing the reinforcement of their organisation's perks.

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