The ‘Great Resignation’ – What Does This Mean for EDI?

15 January 2022
Image of post it note saying I Quit!

Ellen Holmes, Correspondent for The Organization for World Peace, shares her thoughts on the ‘Great Resignation’ and the impact of this on an organisation’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI),

There is a trend which is becoming apparent within the UK job market (and worldwide) which psychologist Anthony Klotz dubbed the Great Resignation’. In May 2021, the UK’s number one jobs site, Reed.co.uk had the highest number of monthly postings since 2008 with another 250,000 vacancies going live on their website in August 2021. Triggered by the pandemic, many are re-evaluating their relationships with their jobs and workplaces, the value of labour being revealed by the upheaval of the past two years. Companies have described the turnover of staff as unrelenting, with The Guardian reporting that of the firms they surveyed during October 2021, more than a quarter said that a lack of staff was affecting their ability to operate.

Discussing this phenomenon with friends and family, many report a grim picture with high staff turnover and low levels of interest in terms of the numbers of applicants for vacant roles, replacing those who have moved on. This is affecting all areas of the businesses where they work, leaving those ‘left behind’ in the organisation struggling to perform their roles with their usual speed and efficiency, and service standards not being met. This led me to consider the value of organisations’ EDI efforts at such as a time as this – if a company is barely able to cope with the workload expected, are the equality, diversity and inclusion efforts of the organisation going to fall by the wayside?

With many experiencing anxieties about returning to the office or struggling to achieve a positive work-life balance, never has an organisation’s commitment to creating and embedding an inclusive culture felt more vital. The intensity which followed the onset of the pandemic has been a rude awakening for many employees as to how the company they have given their time and energy to has valued their health and mental wellbeing during this time. Employees have borne the brunt of their employer’s decisions regarding how to respond to the new working climate. People are more acutely aware of wanting to work for an organisation where they are valued, and for many one of the ways this is actively demonstrated is by a delivery on company ‘promises’ with regards to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Companies should be taking this time to reflect on their approaches to inclusivity, and to establish an environment which values its employees not just on their ability to do their job, but as nuanced and multi-layered people with varying wants and needs from their employment. As people now have more freedom to work virtually anywhere in the world, and more access to information on an organisation’s culture and commitment to positive change, it will open more doors for people to work for a company which reflects their values. Organisations can no longer be ignorant to the need to be culturally competent, as people will just choose to work somewhere which is!

Effective and inclusive practices are even more vital when operating within such a challenging recruitment environment. Positive About Inclusion have a range of practical tools to support your organisation’s efforts, from simple checks to ensure non-gendered language in advertising to a full review of the employee lifecycle. Contact us for an informal discussion about how we can help.

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