Why inclusion at work will help Australian businesses survive the great resignation

By
Lisa Annese, CEO of Diversity Council Australia
Opinion pieces
Inclusion@Work Index 2021-2022

Workforces around the world are experiencing labour shortages as part of the post-pandemic ‘great resignation’. A phrase coined by Professor Anthony Klotz, who noticed that, in the United States, people were abandoning their jobs in droves.

As countries around the world have emerged from COVID-19 lockdowns, employees have been resigning on mass. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September alone.  

Employees are leaving either to pursue the freedom, flexibility and self-reflection that working from home brought many white-collar workers who had that privilege. Or to deal with the burnout and psychological stress that also came with the pandemic, and disproportionately affected frontline workers who did not have the ‘luxury’ of working from home.

While the great resignation is yet to happen in Australia, according to one survey up to 40% of Australian workers are thinking about moving on from their current employer in the next 12 months.

And if this happens (which it is predicted to do in March 2022) it will have a huge impact on workplaces and the broader Australian economy.

The good news is that Diversity Council Australia’s new research shows that inclusion may be exactly what Australia needs to safeguard our economy, our national prosperity, and indeed our ability to thrive in the challenging times ahead.

Our 2021-2022 [email protected] Index maps the state of inclusion in Australian organisations and highlights how workplace inclusion significantly increases performance and wellbeing, satisfaction and innovation.

And while the reasons for the great resignation may be varied (and as individuals we may have swung between one extreme and the other over the past two years), our [email protected] Index shows that workers in inclusive teams are:

  • 4 times less likely to leave their job in the next 12 months compared to workers who don’t have inclusive teams;
  • 10 times more likely to be very satisfied; and
  • 4 times less likely to feel work has a negative or very negative impact on their mental health.

So, in short, if you are focused on workplace inclusion, you’re investing in the wellbeing of your people, making your business more resilient, and are less likely to suffer mass resignations.

More importantly, you will be playing a key role in buoying Australia’s economy and ability to bounce back as we continue to progress through the economic hit brought on by pandemic policies.

Our new research also found a positive link between flexible ‘flex’ work and workplace inclusion. For employers who were forced into alternative working structures during the pandemic, this is good news. It’s also good news for any organisations looking at how to build inclusion across their business.

But flexible work alone isn’t a panacea. While the pandemic has created an opportunity and an urgency to have flexible working in order to not only attract, but also retain, talent it hasn’t been inclusive of every job role. Nor has it necessarily been seen as a business tool so much as a forced national experiment.

To overcome that, flexible work needs to be implemented inclusively, through team design, and made available to any person, for any job, for any reason. Good flexible work also needs to be defined broadly, and include early start and finish times, condensed working weeks, as well as working from home.

The best flex models serve business, as well; work that boosts the performance and wellbeing of organisations, teams, and individuals. And meets business goals in areas such as customer service, innovation, growth and efficiency.

For organisations wondering if the great resignation will have an impact here in Australia, this research can help you understand why inclusion and flexibility will help us be more resilient, stay competitive and home to a thriving job market that has opportunities for everyone.
 

Read the 2021-2022 [email protected] Index here.

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