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Data from the Labour Force Survey by the Office for National Statistics found that resignations rose sharply from the end of 2020 and significantly exceeded their pre-pandemic levels in the final quarter of 2021. This month, our panel comments on what impact (if any) the great resignation has had on their business
PrintIT Reseller: Has filling vacancies been challenging? Has this driven a change in company culture? Have you had to adjust in pay and benefits, address flexible working, employee well-being, compensation and workplace culture, and how important do you see all of that in terms of being able to attract and retain staff?
Amanda Childs, Group HR Director, Kyocera: “How we engage and work with employees has fundamentally altered since the onset of the pandemic. Employees more than ever are now expressing their needs, desires and wants. Like many, we have experienced the increase in resignations and a greater demand for understanding our culture, work practices and benefits much earlier in the onboarding processes.
“Employees have seriously awoken to more fully investigating what they are signing up to before they join an organisation, and this is no bad thing. Once accepted practices before the pandemic have become deeply questioned and as such, we too have had to adapt our offering, our culture and our thinking to be able to adapt to the changing needs.
“Attracting employees is demanding, however the focus has truly shifted
to retention in the last year. When an employee leaves the organisation, so much knowledge, information and connections are lost as a result and this is much tougher to replace than many realise, until it is too late. Since the changes have been showing up, we have implemented a leadership development programme for all of our leadership population, engaging in all practices, including hybrid working and how to adapt to the landscape we find ourselves in. We have also firmly committed to a hybrid practice, advising office-based employees they can work from home for two days per week so they can helpfully meet their changes that have come about in the last few years.
“We also have found that we have had to reflect changes in our benefits
to help employees feel that their continued service with the organisation is recognised and valued. Interestingly, we have also experienced the ‘returners’ where those that left the organisation during the pandemic are now coming back, because the attractive offer from the new employer, did not actually play out in the way they expected. These are very turbulent times for leaders and employees and there is a need for consistency, clarity and investment to ensure that we continue to retain and keep the talent that we need to grow the organisation.”
Phil Jones, Managing Director, Brother UK: “I think the term the ‘big awakening’ captures the mood today – people have realised what it is they do and don’t want – and indeed the great resignation is an impact of this.
“At Brother UK 10 per cent of our colleagues have moved on to new employers, interestingly, people were also choosing to take early retirement. That’s not because we’re a bad employer, it’s because post-pandemic, people are making changes in their lives.
“We have invested heavily in two areas – our EVP (employee value proposition) and our OVP (organisational value proposition). Our efforts have paid dividends so much so that we have had no problem attracting new people to backfill vacant positions.
“In terms of keeping our EVP up to date, we have kept a close eye on the
job market. We conduct an annual pay benchmarking review, and we pay adjust on an individual basis to ensure we’re competitive with the current market.
We also adjusted our annual leave policy, so all colleagues receive 25 days holiday from day one, plus we’ve introduced a ‘buy extra days’ option for additional flexibility. Another big change we’ve made is to introduce electric vehicles to our company car policy – that’s hugely attractive to company car drivers as the much lower BIK puts more cash in their pockets.
“At an OVP level, we moved very quickly and made big decisions early
to future-proof our offices for the new normal. We completely redesigned our Manchester HQ, and the refurb was complete before everyone came back to the office after restrictions were lifted. We have also responded to feedback and have adjusted our hybrid working model so colleagues now work two days in the office and three days at home.
“Our business, like many others, has to focus on big issues – cyber security, supply chain, product launches – all of which are really important, but equally so is to ensure we meet our employees’ expectations. Many of the people we’ve recruited have told us they’ve left their former employers as their OVP, and EVP were out of date with little chance of any changes on the horizon.
“Brother UK was the first firm in the UK to retain the Investors in People (IIP) Platinum status three times in a row, that’s something we’re incredibly proud of and it recognises our longstanding focus on effectively leading, growing and supporting our people. The job market is very active, indeed no shows at interviews is becoming commonplace, as an employer you have to move quickly and do more and those that don’t will miss out.”
Dave Prezzano, Managing Director UK & Ireland, HP Inc: “The great resignation is an example of employees re-evaluating their work-life balance, career goals, and position within an organisation to enrich their work and personal lives. Hybrid and remote working have opened up job vacancies to a wider, more competitive pool of talent, including those who may have been deterred from roles previously.
“Employees and job applicants have new expectations for work which employers should look to offer to remain an employer of choice. Flexible working is now more commonly requested from prospective employees, and as an employer we should enable flexibility to help employees work sustainably and remain proud and engaged to work for a company that is being adaptive to their needs.
“HP has always advocated flexible working, focusing on outcome over process. To ensure flexible working does not impact collaboration or cross- functional teamwork, we have listened to our employees and their experiences of working during the pandemic. Fostering an equitable working experience, no matter if you choose to work in the office one day per week or five days per week, has put HP in a healthy position of employee retention, fostering a ‘school of talent’ whilst attracting new and diverse people.
“We’re proud to say we learnt a lot from the accelerated shift to hybrid work and we saw a need to truly double-down on our culture, one that epitomises collaboration and inclusion. An initiative we have encouraged over the last couple of years is our employee-led Impact Networks (INs) – a group of employees representing and championing protected characteristics. Our INs collaborate with senior management to enact change and help share HP job opportunities amongst more diverse networks, a process we’d encourage other organisations to implement to help attract diverse talent.
“Valuing and rewarding employees drives higher engagement, better performance, and helps us attract and retain talent. We offer a comprehensive total rewards package that includes salaries, bonuses, incentive programmes, and a range of benefits designed to meet our employees’ diverse needs while enhancing their well-being and that of their families. We have been steadfast in practising that our people are paid equitably for what they do and how they do it, regardless of gender, race, or other personal characteristics. To deliver on this commitment, we regularly benchmark and set pay ranges based on market data, factors such as employee’s role, experience, and performance. For the past five years, HP has reviewed employees’ compensation with the support of independent third-party experts to ensure consistent pay practices.
“Retaining employees goes beyond paying them fairly. Companies have a role to play in looking after employee well-being and must be cognisant to the wider challenges society is facing, from the ongoing pandemic to geopolitical tensions to an accelerating climate crisis. At HP, we’ve had in place ‘wellness programmes’ that focus on physical health, financial wellness and life balance. We’ve found uptake for these programmes has increased over the past couple of years and we will continue to support our employees in all aspects of their lives so they can do their best work – while learning, growing, and feeling engaged.”
Emma Davies-Carolan, Senior Director International Marketing, ECI Software Solutions: “The fall-out of the great resignation and the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have impacted skilled staff at all levels, across most industries. At ECI, we’ve certainly seen staff prioritising a good work-life balance, wanting to focus on quality of life and family time.
“At ECI, we offer a range of benefits that are derived from listening to the needs of staff and implementing new initiatives accordingly, such as increasing holiday allowances and conducting more regular in-person office celebrations to bring people together and boost morale.
“It’s not just our internal team, we’ve also seen a surge in the number
of customers seeking to win back time and streamline processes across their business. Take our core business management solution e-automate, for example. The solution has been designed to act as a business’ hardest working employee and is proving useful for those struggling to recruit amid staff shortages.
“We believe it’s important to reflect the changes to wider society within
our own culture. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have shifted to a mixture of hybrid and fully remote work schemes, to allow people to have the flexibility they now prioritise. By doing this we’ve boosted staff attraction and retention across many functions of the business.
“Given the importance of a good work-life balance, we also look to keep commuting times to a minimum where possible to ensure colleagues are less stressed and feel more empowered.
“It’s important to ensure that our employees feel trusted, independent
and autonomous. Not only this, but with the current cost of living crisis, keeping our employees’ commute times to a minimum means they save money, as the price of fuel remains high, allowing them to invest in better quality of life in other aspects of their days can help to keep them happier.
“As mentioned above, developing schemes to work remotely has become a large part of the culture here, as it has in many industries. We are also investing time and money into well-being for our staff. We have instigated internal newsletters for our office technology business in order to acknowledge staff performance, as we believe that this helps to boost morale and also build culture, which can be hard to create in remote working roles, as often the
office small talk does not take place in these roles.
“We also have a rewards programme in place, based around peer recognition. The program is called the high 5 scheme, essentially this is where staff get points for acknowledgements of their good work by their colleagues, and they can redeem these points on a variety of bonuses, such as towards purchases, activities outside of work and eating out.
“People today expect all aspects of their working life to better mirror their overall life ethics. Just as they want to shop more ethically and use the services of more eco-friendly companies, they also want to work with companies with strong ESG policies, for example. A large part of this at the moment is about empowering staff members to take more control and responsibility over their life at work. By addressing flexible working and giving some of the responsibility for the acknowledgment of good work back to the employees, instead of always coming from management, has allowed a massive opportunity for that.
“Similarly, by basing our new initiatives on the specific issues staff have raised, means that we provide a much healthier environment for our employees to work in. A combination of these factors is naturally going to be a more appealing environment for attracting potential talent to the company. Ensuring that employees are given as much as they can, in order to be happy has always been important to us, and now we are continuing to do our best to keep that up with the changes that have come in the last few years.”
Laura White, Head of Global Talent, PaperCut: “Filling vacancies has definitely been a challenge that has resulted in us shifting the way we approach recruitment. We are spending much more time actively reaching out to potential candidates than ever before. We have also focused heavily on our employer brand and marketing rather than relying on job applications, which are at an all-time low.
“The shift to remote and now hybrid working brought on by the pandemic has certainly made us ask ourselves, ‘Who are we as an employer?’. Some things, such as our vision and values, haven’t changed but our working environment has. Something we are determined not to lose is the connections between ‘PaperCutters’ that make our culture special. The way we stay connected is where we’ve seen the greatest change and where we needed to become much more intentional.
“The world is a completely different place now compared to two and a
half years ago. We’ve had to face and overcome a myriad of challenges such as border closures, lockdowns and really tough competition over talent. We’ve definitely had to stay true to our value of remaining nimble while also putting our people first. Keeping up with changing market conditions has been a core focus and that has included adjustments to factors including pay and benefits, employee well-being, compensation and workplace culture.
“A recent Gallup survey in the US highlighted that pay, benefits and well- being have risen to the top of the list of most important factors to job seekers in recent years. This is unsurprising given the pressures of the pandemic and the rising cost of living. We regularly review our salary bands to ensure we keep up with the market. We’re also investing in our benefits offering, including non-financial benefits such as flexible work, which is here to stay at PaperCut. Ensuring a supportive work environment that promotes a healthy life/work balance (because life comes first) is what we see as the key to employee well-being.”
Chris Bates, Business Unit Manager, Print and Supplies, UK and Ireland,
Tech Data: “Talented people are certainly in demand right now and that’s made it even more of a challenge for partners to make the best possible use
of the resources they do have. It’s also made it even more important for reseller businesses to automate processes. This is one of the reasons we’re seeing such strong interest in our OpenMPS managed print service. With OpenMPS, partners can provide a simple, efficient way to ensure that customers never run out of essential supplies, and thus don’t see an impact on productivity. For the partner, that means less time processing and administering small orders.
“In terms of how it’s affected us, I think every channel business is aware that there is a shortage of talented people in the industry right now. Tech Data has a number of initiatives in place, from our very successful apprenticeship scheme to internal career development and training, which help us attract and retain the best talent.”
Steve Kendall-Smith, UK Managing Director, Lexmark: “For the tech sector, high levels of staff turnover are especially concerning, with unemployment rates in this space estimated to be about 1.7 per cent, compared with roughly 4 per cent in the general economy. However, while the transition to remote working and the need for technology to support it effectively appears to be an underlying cause of the great resignation, it may also hold the key to thriving in a post- pandemic world. Leaders in our sector know they need to re-evaluate their IT environments to help them cover the skills gaps left by staff shortages whilst also driving operational and cost efficiencies which could be an opportunity for our business.
“Like many businesses in the industry, finding IT talent has been difficult and has allowed prospective employees to hold the cards. For a technology business like Lexmark, retaining staff, particularly specialist and high-skilled employees is critical. Providing a level of high- service for our customers and remaining profitable rests on the staffs’ ability to maintain physical infrastructure and at the same time bolster strategic initiatives to drive out cost.”
Jo Lawrence, HR Director, Exertis UK: “It’s a very candidate-led market with lots of choice available, so being an employer of choice is critical to attracting the best talent. We’ve definitely seen candidates having more choice between roles available, and we have adapted by being agile in terms of pay and benefits, particularly in our logistics roles (for example drivers and warehouse colleagues).
“We’ve adopted a hybrid working model broadly orientated around 50 per cent of time on-site over the course of a fortnight. Colleagues have welcomed the flexibility but also the opportunity to collaborate and connect while on-site. To attract in the future, businesses need to be open to different working models – hours of work, place of work; and also be hugely mindful of inclusion in its broadest sense – not just about protected characteristics, but different work preferences.
“At Exertis, we encourage our people to bring their ‘whole selves to work’, in an initiative to highlight the fact that no parts of our people’s identities should be left behind when working for us. Should any of our people need support or a safe place, we have a range of well-being options available. This includes our Employee Assistance Programme, confidential conversations with one of our MHFAs, and as of recently, our well-being portal.
“Benefits of working at Exertis include healthcare, staff discounts, pension schemes and loyalty schemes via our Employee Assistance Programme, provided in partnership with MetLife. We offer confidential 24/7 telephone support with qualified counsellors, up to six face- to-face counselling sessions, access to financial, legal and health support, health risk assessments, cognitive behavioural therapy, and webinars. We also offer a health cash plan paid for by Exertis, provided via Health Shield.”