The Great Reshuffle: a workplace phenomenon

The Great Reshuffle: a workplace phenomenon
Natalie Toniotti
Natalie Toniotti
    7 minute read

David, a corporate lawyer from London, painted a picture of what the post-pandemic working environment was going to look like. “Lockdown forced me to stop. I spent time with my wife, rediscovered healthy living and slept well. It took this halt to realise just how destructive life at one of the world’s largest law firms was – always on call and under pressure to deliver, regularly working 60-plus-hour weeks. So I quit.”

Now living in northern England, he gets paid far less than what he was earning in London but his newfound work-life balance has never been better. David is just one of the many millions of employees who have decided to re-assess their worklives. This phenomenon dubbed ‘The Great Reshuffle’ has employers re-evaluating their approach to employee wellbeing management and recruitment.

Recent studies have found that more than 50% of employees who are quitting their jobs are not leaving the labour force completely but simply switching their occupations or field of work. Organisational psychologist, Dr Anthony Klotz, is one of the many experts who witnessed this trend of people leaving their jobs in sight for something ‘better’ - a ‘Great Reshuffle’ instead of a ‘Great Resignation’.

Dr Klotz stated that “people are finding jobs that give them the right pay, benefits and work arrangements in the longer term. There’s now a greater ability for people to fit work into their lives instead of having lives that squeeze into their work.” The pandemic epiphanies that have led to similar phenomena like ‘The Great Re-evaluation’ have businesses asking the big question - how can we attract the right people and what do we need to do to make they stay?

In this blog, we take you through the ins-and-outs of ‘The Great Reshuffle’ and ways in which your business can navigate this ever-changing working landscape.

The Great Reshuffle explained

The labour statistics paint a confronting picture. Research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the national turnover or ‘quit’ rate in Australia hit 9.5% over the year to February 2022; the highest level since 2012. In America, The Wall Street Journal revealed the number of self-employed workers rose by 500,000 since the pandemic.

The current talent shortage gripping economies everywhere is a result of many employees that had once accepted the fact they had to remain in their job for financial security despite being unhappy now having more flexibility than ever before and being open to the idea of a job reshuffle. ‘The Great Resignation’ implied employees leaving the workforce completely, ‘The Great Reshuffle’ is about employees completely reconfiguring what their work-life balance looks like.

This could involve them looking for positions in new industries, jobs that offer better wages or businesses that represent their newfound values. A Microsoft research study shows exactly how much the recruitment landscape has changed as a result of the pandemic. The 2022 Microsoft Work Trend Index highlighted how 47% of employees now value their family and personal life over work than pre-pandemic levels. In fact, 53% of those surveyed were more likely to prioritise their health and wellbeing over work than before COVID-19.

The difference between ‘The Great Reshuffle’ and workplace phenomena like ‘The Great Depression’ and the global financial crisis of 07’ and 08’ is that “people in professional work now have a choice,” explains London School of Economics Associate Professor Grace Lordan. “Previously, with the likes of the Industrial Revolution, most people weren’t skilled enough to get the high-income jobs. Now knowledgeable workers are in such high demand that there’s a skill shortage.”

This demand means that existing employees and jobseekers are in control. They now have the power to demand employment conditions that meet their wants and needs. An example is an increase in popularity of hybrid or remote work opportunities; a working style that started as a necessity for business continuity during the pandemic but has become a must-have for employees in ‘The Great Reshuffle’. According to a Microsoft study, 70% of employees want to continue working from home and two-thirds of businesses are planning to redesign their offices to suit hybrid work.

At the same time, people are starting to ask for better work-life balances at their current workplace. People are no longer willing to accept the fact that unrelenting stress at work is just a normal part of the job. Businesses are under more pressure than ever to invest in employee wellbeing initiatives that help prevent burnout.

How can businesses navigate ‘The Great Reshuffle’?

It’s clear that ‘The Great Reshuffle’ places the power into the hands of employees. Businesses now have to be far more proactive with recruitment and internal engagement strategies if they want to remain an employer of choice.

Look out for flight risks

Start by implementing initiatives to keep current employees loyal and happy before looking externally. Think of how costly it is to recruit from scratch. Payout packages to recruitment fees can really pile up and take up a lot of your human resource functions energy. Not to mention the intangible cost of losing an employee who you’ve spent time and money training. Your best employees are likely to have attractive options elsewhere and that’s why it is essential to strive to keep them happy. Another risk group is team members with carer responsibilities (e.g. parents) who may be on the lookout for employers that better support their needs.

Offer flexible working conditions

If you are trying to re-establish the traditional working conditions of pre-pandemic days, the Monday to Friday 9 to 5 grind, you are already at the losing end of ‘The Great Reshuffle’. Here is your reality check: social distancing and lockdowns gave many employees a taste of remote work. The lack of commuting and the increase in flexibility were so well received by those employees that now, they aren’t as accepting of a workplace environment that doesn’t reflect those standards. They don’t really want to go back to how things used to be. Some might, but with at least 42% of workers wanting flexible working conditions to continue, the votes are in. This could mean embracing fully remote job opportunities, hybrid schedules or four-day work weeks. ‘The Great Reshuffle’ is about supplying your workers with options and letting them pick what works best for them moving forward.

Foster workplace culture

Now more than ever, employees and jobseekers are starting to carefully analyse a company’s culture prior to deciding if they want to consider working there at all. If your business has a significant emphasis on employee development initiatives, you are more likely to attract better quality talent and maintain employee loyalty. Celebrating staff achievements is highly valued internally, while it is also beneficial to promote one’s positive culture to an external audience, say social media posts that advertise your workplace as “flexible work” or post regular employee wellbeing events.

Gone are the days of unpredictable work scheduling

85% of employees believe unpredictable work scheduling affects their overall personal wellbeing with almost 40% experiencing burnout due to the unpredictable nature of their work rosters. If you’re trying to retain and recruit talent, you need to embrace digital transformation tools that can help keep track of employee schedules efficiently. This way, when concerns arise, the system can alert you to quickly address them. Likewise, employee exit interviews are an excellent opportunity to learn if staff turnover is being impacted by negative work scheduling.

Enhance your employee’s purpose at work

Nothing kills the spirit of an employee faster than constantly handling repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Especially when they are sitting there knowing they have more to offer but not having the time to offer that to your business. Of course, every business has boxes that need to be ticked or routine processes that need to be actioned but the truly successful ones are those that proactively find ways to complete them without handing them to team members whose time can be better spent elsewhere.

Outsourcing is a resourcing solution where you can have hire dedicated team members and highly qualified staff anywhere in the world to handle those tasks and free up your local employees time to focus on higher-value and more meaningful work. It can also save up to 70% on labour and infrastructure costs due to the lower costs of living in the likes of the Philippines.

A whole new way of working

The work environment looks a lot different from what it did a few years ago. The pandemic has brought about monumental change and seen the rise of a host of working concepts that were barely on the radar then, from social distancing and lockdowns to work from home and the acceleration of digital communication. One thing that hasn’t changed is that businesses want to employ good staff and people want to work for good employers. That will always be the case and the best way for businesses to thrive during ‘The Great Reshuffle’ is by showing their staff they want to work with them not against them.

With remote work here to stay, the ‘hybrid workplace’ is now a strategic imperative for businesses that appreciate the need to offer employees the flexibility they desire. This checklist is your comprehensive guide to transitioning to a hybrid work model.

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