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Can Culture Remedy The Great Resignation?

May 17, 2022

From our Thought Leader Partner, Colliers.

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Guest Post By: Ryan O’Sullivan, Liam Ovenden, Sarah Hughes, Abhishek Bajpai, Amit Oberoi

The aftermath of COVID-19 has given rise to many new trends across the globe, one of which is The Great Resignation – which refers to employees across different industries and demographics who are voluntarily leaving their jobs. The drivers of The Great Resignation are as many as they are varied.

The Great Resignation will amplify the need to retain talent in Asia Pacific. With border restrictions remaining in place, organizations in the region will see the employment market heat up on a global scale, making it even more critical to ensure there are people with the right skills and in the right positions, to produce the best results in the near term.

With the only certainty being uncertainty, what can companies do to retain talent and adapt to these changing workplace practices?

“Giving employees choice about how, when and where they work… Helps to strengthen the overall work experience.”

Enrich company culture in distributed work models

Organizations can go a long way in retaining talent by enriching company culture through flexible working arrangements.

Whether that is in the form of a four-day workweek, as suggested by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, a hybrid between office and work from home arrangements, or something in between, such distributed work models satisfy the needs and desires of both employees and employers alike.

Equally important, is a mindful way to maintain a positive organizational culture.

Related content: Flex Forward: Flexible Workspace Trend Forecast 2022

Strengthen the work experience with employee-centered design

Giving employees choice about how, when, and where they work is part of employee-centered design that caters to the needs of employees and helps to strengthen the overall work experience.

“Flexibility and employee-centered design are not only important to employees, but also influence an organization’s culture. The most direct way to alleviate talent pressure is to ensure you understand the needs and desires of your people,” says Liam Ovenden, Regional Director, People & Performance | Asia Pacific. “Culture is often tied to the in-office work experience, but studies have shown that culture can often be independent of location and is more influenced by leadership.”

People tend to feel more embedded into their work when they interact and have strong ties with the people they work with – both physically and virtually. This speaks to workplace experience and workplace culture, and the interplay of these two constructs.

Promote health & well-being in the workplace

As offices transform to accommodate a hybrid workforce, physical design and construction of spaces that complement and encourage culture and interpersonal interactions is of utmost importance.

There is a need for purposeful design of meaningful programs that encourage health and well-being in the workplace, including programs that cater to both physical and mental health.

“As organizations pay more attention to culture, it is important to ask if and how you are ensuring those constructs, experiences, and connections that help people feel part of a great whole are activated and put in place,” says Ryan O’Sullivan, Head of Enterprise Client Solutions | Asia Pacific.

Support a more diverse, equitable and inclusive culture

With the increasing competition to retain the best talent, awareness of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in workplaces has come to the fore.

The benefits of DEI have set apart those organizations that are delivering on their promises. Data on your workforce can prove to be an invaluable way of ensuring office diversity of talent targets are trackable, and ultimately, achieved.

Enable women to remain in the workforce

We all understand the importance of having women in the workforce. Organizations must ensure the careers of women are supported and enabled by giving work options that allow for better work-life balance.

“An equitable workplace is important to create a space of belonging and connection for underrepresented employees,” says Sarah Hughes, National Director of Tenant Advisory, Occupier Services | Australia.

“This is especially important in Asia Pacific, as women continue to be an integral part of the workforce. Women must be sufficiently supported, both financially and psychologically, for events like maternity leave, and as importantly, when they return from leave. Doing so will ensure they (and the business) reach their greatest potential.”

Drive commitment to sustainability

Shared purpose aims to attract clients and engage employees. Beyond that, it not only helps to convince clients to do business with you, but to believe that you will do the right thing.

At the top of this list is sustainability and carbon neutrality – a major factor in developing today’s offices. Companies must act to embed sustainable practices and drive commitment across all aspects of their operations.

“ESG is no longer lip service. It has moved from being a peripheral issue to revenue critical territory, and business leaders are taking notice,” says Abhishek Bajpai, Managing Director of Occupier Services | Asia. “Analysts are also taking heed, and the issue of greenwashing is no longer tolerated. Companies must show tangible evidence that there is action behind the bold statements.

“ESG has moved from being a peripheral issue to revenue-critical territory… Companies must show tangible evidence that there is action behind the bold statements.” 

A by-product of a commitment to shared purpose and values is the enlistment of employees to do the same. But organizations need to demonstrate this through firm action, implementing policies and working towards a strategy aligned to a clearly defined purpose and values. 

Related content: Elevate the Built Environment – Colliers’ ESG strategy 

Prepare for AI and Automation

Another consideration is the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and work automation on the workforce. Agile technology skills are in high demand, and there remains an ever-widening tech skills gap. Location strategy is also a key driver of finding talent.

“Combining workforce analytics and a location strategy will go a long way in attracting and retaining talent, especially in key technology functions,” says Amit Oberoi, Head of Occupier Strategy | Asia. “This also extends to workplace design. Office fitouts need to be customized to facilitate workflow and efficacy.”

Having the right location strategy and distributed work strategies to support equitable and diverse workplaces, all driven by a positive values-driven culture, will be crucial to overcoming The Great Resignation.

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