‘The Great Resignation’: How to protect your business

Posted on: November 29th, 2021

A hot topic of conversation now is the ‘great resignation’.  A survey by Randstad UK found that 69% of workers surveyed were confident about moving jobs within a few months. To put this into context Randstad normally predict a workplace movement around 11%.  Sectors such as manufacturing, tech, logistics and construction are potentially most at risk from the great resignation. 

Employers are therefore facing a challenging time in relation to staff turnover and the cost and risks associated with this.  Recruiting new staff is time consuming and costly and losing staff to competitors can have a huge impact on a business. 

So why is it happening and what can you do to protect your business? 

Why is it happening?

Because of several reasons including:

  • More possibilities. New ways of working have lifted geographical restraints and allowed workers to work remotely which has ultimately opened up the possibility of working for any employer in and outside the UK and a whole new pool of jobs/opportunities. 
  • Burnout/change of priorities – The pandemic made a lot of people think about their work/life balance as this was hugely blurred during lockdown with families working and studying together. Therefore, workers are looking for more flexible working.
  • ‘Cabin fever’ – There were certainly times when it felt like ‘groundhog’ day during lockdown and therefore workers are looking for new and exciting opportunities to help shake off that feeling of ‘cabin fever’.  Some workers also felt disconnected from their employers resulting in them feeling less ‘loyal’.   

So how can you protect your business?

We can’t stop the ‘great resignation’ from happening nor can we stop workers from leaving.  However, as an employer there are things you can do to retain staff but more importantly to protect the business should your workers leave.  Here are our top tips to consider:

  1. Ask staff for their opinions: the more engaged a workforce feels, the more likely they are to stay.  Therefore, consult with staff or carry out surveys to understand how they feel about their current work/working environment etc.  Consultations or surveys about hybrid working and the way forward are key now to understand how organisations can balance running effectively and efficiently with attracting and keeping staff. You might also get some brilliant ideas to help the business.

  2. Take action: If issues are raised by members of staff about the working environment (e.g. feeling distanced from colleagues/the workplace) take action. Make changes and embrace this new way of working.  Employers who are open to flexibility and more results driven ways of working (as opposed to number of hours worked) are far more likely to attract and retain key talent.
  3. Review contracts of employment and restrictive covenants: Having protection in your contracts of employment has never been more important. This includes:
  • Confidentiality provisions – Competitors suddenly have access to a number of senior and key members of staff departing from their current employers. With this comes the risk of competitors obtaining confidential information regarding your business, particularly in the absence of well drafted and meaningful confidentiality provisions.
  • Restrictive covenants – Now is a good time to review your restrictive covenants provisions in your contracts of employment and take soe advice to protect your remaining staff, confidential information and customer/client/supplier database. We see all too often situations where employers thought their restrictive covenants were watertight but unfortunately that ends up not being the case, for example because:
    • The restrictions are no longer fit for purpose i.e. they worked at the start of the employment relationship but time has passed and they no longer work (dur to promotions and changes in roles) and they haven’t been updated.
    • The restricted period and garden leave period clash. Restrictive covenant timeframes should discount any time spent on garden leave.  This however becomes an issue when garden leave is the same length of time as the restriction.
    • The restrictions are too wide. The starting point with restrictive covenants is that they are void as they seek to restrain trade.  However, they can be enforceable provided that they are reasonable and do no more than is necessary to protect legitimate business interests.  Therefore, having a blanket set out restrictive covenants for the workforce is unlikely to work and they need to be tailored to individual job roles or at least seniority levels in order to stand the best chance of protecting the business.
  • Notice periods – now is also a great time to consider what notice periods you have in your contracts. Remembering that workers and employers can have different notice periods (as long as they are at least the minimum statutory notice). Having said this there is a balancing act between retaining staff for longer whilst also making sure you are not on the hook for a lengthy notice period where you need to dismiss an employee. 

How we can help

We have experience of working with organisations to help retain staff and protect organisations in the event members of staff leave by:

  • reviewing and advising on contracts of employment and post termination restrictions:
  • assisting with consultation and feedback exercises with the workforce;
  • advising on issues that do rise; and
  • providing virtual training to line managers to help them proactively manage staff, issues that arise and to help in retaining staff. This training can be recorded and viewed at any time and there is no limit on the number of employees who can watch the training.

Please contact Sarah Burke for more information.