PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
IS IT TIME TO QUIT YOUR JOB?
HOW IMPROVED INTERNAL COMMS CAN DRIVE ENGAGEMENT AND RETENTION
Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has impacted hiring and job retention numbers for the best part of 2020, easing of restrictions looks set to create a ‘mass exodus’ of staff who, if the pandemic had not happened, would have changed jobs in this time – and some who feel that their company’s handling of the pandemic was not correct.
The latest research conducted by TopCV has revealed that 65% of working UK professionals would consider leaving their job, largely as a result of poor treatment by their employer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey assessed staff attitudes towards their employer, including those who were furloughed, as well as those who continued to work for the same company through the crisis.
The resounding number one reason for employee dissatisfaction was poor communication.
Internal Communications in a Crisis
Prosper asked Sarah Williams, Associate Director at the University of Wolverhampton Business School and lecturer in communications and public relations, for her thoughts on the survey.
“The TopCV research into staff attitudes towards their employer during Covid-19 is sadly not surprising,” Sarah said, “It highlights a problem which exists in many organisations, large and small – poor internal communications.
“Clear and effective internal communications are vital in so many ways. Keeping your staff informed and checking in with staff on furlough, increases their sense of belonging to your business and contributes to good employee morale. This can have so many benefits for a firm, including low staff turnover, as indicated by the TopCV research, but also a good reputation and satisfied customers.
“Your employees are the first point of contact for your stakeholders, including your customers, and positive, content and well-informed staff are more likely to have a positive impact on the stakeholders they come into contact with,” explained Sarah.
As the Institute of Internal Communications (IOIC) explains, ‘For employees to feel engaged with their workplace and give their best, they have to see that their organisation cares about their views and understand how their role contributes towards overall business objectives.’
“For staff on furlough,” Sarah continued, “This is particularly important as they may be feeling disconnected from the business, feeling anxious about their return and their place in the firm. Staff may not be actively working but this does not mean that they have lost interest in the organisation, so it is important to keep them informed of what is happening. As the IOIC advises, “you have to communicate well at the right time, so employees know what is expected of them and what is happening in the organisation”.
“However, truly effective communication, Sarah said, “Should not be all one-way; as well as keeping staff informed about the current situation, managers should be asking staff, especially those on furlough, about their thoughts and ideas, and keeping a check on staff wellbeing. The key to engaging and enthusing staff is to include them and make them feel that they and their ideas are valued and appreciated.
“Fundamentally, internal communications should be open, honest, authentic and rooted in the organisation’s values,” Sarah said, “Ideally, important messages should be delivered by senior management to avoid the ‘Chinese whispers’ effect of gossip and half-truths creating upset and tension among staff.
Keep it up!
“In conclusion, like any good conversation, organisations should communicate regularly with their staff and allow space for meaningful feedback so that the organisation can listen and take on board how staff are feeling. A regular dialogue will involve staff and encourage them to contribute more effectively to the success of the organisation rather than alienating staff and encouraging them to look elsewhere.”
Is it time to quit your job?
Meanwhile,17% of those who responded to the TopCV survey, who are working during the pandemic, stated that their company had failed to communicate quickly, often and/or effectively about major issues such as working hours, layoffs and pay during the crisis.
Similarly, 55% of employees who were furloughed felt neglected by their employer, who failed to communicate or keep them informed of the next steps.
And whilst COVID-19 played a central role in the looming mass exodus, 21% of professionals admitted they were unhappy even before the crisis, their employers’ behaviour towards them during this period was the final straw and would prompt them to look for a role elsewhere.
Despite job availability in the UK plummeting to a record low, only one in four working UK professionals viewed their company’s behaviour positively and wanted to remain employed there, post-pandemic. Interestingly, among furloughed employees, a higher proportion (45%) said they felt their employer managed the situation well and they would not consider leaving.
However, the findings suggested that the pandemic has triggered greater workplace flexibility. A mere six per cent of employees working remotely said they were unhappy with the flexibility their company offered to help them care for their families.