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UK Workforce: The Great Resignation. Now is the time to act to retain your workforce

You've heard it all in the news, and more crucially, in your latest Board or HR meetings: the UK deskless workforce is in crisis. Dwelling on the current situation won't solve your problems, though. A pragmatic approach and adequate solutions will.


The impact of Brexit and the pandemic on the deskless workforce in the UK has left many employers haemorrhaging staff. From hospitality workers changing careers after long periods of furlough to HGV drivers moving back to Europe, all industries have been affected, one way or the other.


What is the Great Resignation of 2021?

Since the beginning of the year, an unprecedented number of workers in the UK have simply decided to call it quits. In July 2021, the number of job vacancies in the UK surpassed one million for the first time.

With changes to the way people are working, this mass phenomenon has left companies struggling with staff shortages and a difficulty to recruit replacements - not to mention a substantial increase in wages asked by potential new candidates.


Why are workers quitting?

The most common explanation to workers quitting their jobs is due to the pandemic. Many workers have been left burnt-out or dissatisfied with their employers and the way they have been treated. In health care in particular, 18 months of extra hours, extra shifts and little rest time has left workers simply exhausted. 

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between April and June of 2021, 791,000 people moved from one job to another. This equates to approximately 2.6 per cent of the UK workforce. This is the highest rate since March 2019; the last time it was higher was more than a decade ago.

The UK is not the only country seeing a huge rise in employees opting to change job. In the US also, there has been an extremely high rate of resignations (this does not include redundancies or terminations) in the food and hospitality sectors. According to a US Bureau of Labor Statistics report earlier this year, it was recorded that 6.8% of all workers in this sector quit in a single month. That was closely followed by the retail sector at 4.8%. That equates to increased pressure on the remaining staff and the likelihood of levels of contentedness falling.   

In the UK, as well as high numbers of people quitting, a recent survey of 6,000 workers by a recruitment company suggests that 69% of employees are showing intent to resign from their current roles in the next few months. It is estimated that this could cost businesses up to £25,000 per employee when finding replacements and onboarding them, in what is being called a talent exodus. 


How can companies retain their staff?

Doom and gloom? Absolutely. Hopeless? Certainly not. And actually, you can fix it. If your employees feel that you are leading them into the new world with empathy, valuing their contribution, understanding their needs and acting upon these, then the battle will be won.

In our survey, the State of the Deskless Workforce 2021, nearly 3 in 5 deskless workers (58)% said that they have considered quitting their job because they were unhappy with their work environment. In the Retail sector, this number was 63%. For Hospitality workers, over 66%. 

It is fair to say that such levels of disengaged staff lead to poorer customer service, reduced productivity and higher levels of absence and churn.

To retain these employees, re-engage and motivate them. This  doesn't necessarily require pay rises, bonuses or lavish benefits. Offering them their life back is all that matters. And, to do so, you need to ensure that their work and their private life don't collide. 

Have you ever mentioned work-life balance to a shift worker and seen them clench their teeth? Of course. Because when working shifts, there is often no such thing. Last minute schedule changes, late warning for upcoming shifts, inflexibility to swap with colleagues: organising family and social life is near impossible for many deskless workers. In our survey, The State of the Deskless Workforce 2021, 54% of respondent said that they missed out on personal time (working out, mental health activities, relaxing) due to inflexible schedules - a number rising to 61% in the retail sector.

Well, with optimised schedules and communications, then perhaps you will be able to put a smile on their face. When employees feel like they have some power or control over their working hours then they are always going to be happier. And this is where a great WFM tool comes in.

The solution is WFM

Businesses with a deskless workforce need an intelligent WFM solution that can rebuild the empathy and boost the morale of employees. Without one, you could lose your best staff and end up with higher training costs, worse customer service, and lower sales. Are you willing to take that chance?

Want to know more about what your employees really want? Then download our State of the Deskless Workforce Report to find out. 

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