Remote and home-working may help many employers to recruit staff, but it seems to have less of an impact on retaining staff, new research suggests.
A survey of 332 employers by HR software firm CIPHR found that 73% of organisations had experienced an increase in voluntary resignations and 71% had found it more challenging to recruit new employees over the past year.
Organisations whose staff mostly worked from home were more likely to have experienced an increase in resignations, than those whose employees mostly worked in an office. This, said CIPHR, suggested that employers needed to establish different ways of connecting and engaging their remote workers.
When it came to recruitment, however, employers whose staff were mostly workplace-based had found it more challenging to hire new employees, compared with employers whose staff were mostly remote.
Organisations with between 251 and 5,000 employees appeared to be struggling the most in terms of recruitment and retention, with 83% reporting an increase in employee resignations and 77% finding it more challenging to recruit. In comparison, only half of smaller employers (those with between 26 and 50 employees) said the same, with 55% experiencing an increase in voluntary resignations and 51% stating that recruitment was more of a challenge.
Ultimately employees are, in many ways, the ones navigating the direction of travel” – Claire Williams, chief people officer, CIPHR
Employers who have chosen or are able to offer their staff the option to work from home – either fully remote or on a hybrid basis – were more successful when it came to recruitment. Only half of employers whose staff mostly worked from home said they had found it more challenging than usual to recruit over the past year. That figure rose to 71% for employers whose staff worked at a workplace more than 60% of the time.
Employers with staff working 100% remotely were also three times more likely to report having found it easier than usual to hire new employees over the past year, when compared with employers with staff working 100% onsite at their workplace (27% compared to 8%).
Retention and the ‘great resignation’
When it came to retention, however, matters were not so clear cut. More than four-fifths (82%) of employers with employees who always work from home said they had seen an increase in resignations, compared with 70% of those with some form of hybrid workforce (their staff work remotely 20% to 80% of the time) and just 54% of employers with employees who never work from home.
The latter – employers whose employees never work from home – were those most likely to report a reduction in the proportion of employees voluntarily resigning over the past year (15% of employers, compared to a 9% average across all employers).
Telecommunications, scientific and technical services, publishing, government and public administration, broadcasting, and human resources are among the industries reporting significant increases in the number of employees voluntarily resigning over the past year.
As part of the survey, 250 employers were asked whether they agreed that “employees and job seekers are in the driving seat when it comes to negotiating salaries, benefits and flexible working”. Two-thirds (66%) of those polled said they did.
Employees in the driving seat
More than three-quarters of employers working in hospitality and food services, legal services, and the arts, entertainment or recreation (86%, 83% and 77% respectively) believed that employees and job seekers were “in the driving seat”.
Conversely, only around half of employers working in the automotive industry, retail trade, healthcare and social assistance, and shipping and distribution (20%, 31%, 50% and 50% respectively) think the same.
Claire Williams, chief people officer at CIPHR, said that employees were the ones dictating the direction of travel: “There are still far more vacancies than available candidates in some industries, which means employers need to be flexible in their approach and consider a wider range of ways to make their organisation attractive to their current workforce, as well as future talent and prospective candidates. Ultimately employees are, in many ways, the ones navigating the direction of travel.”
“Employers need to ensure they focus on communicating their organisation’s values, purpose, and culture to differentiate them from the pack, and that they engage and listen to their employees and act on their feedback, wherever possible, to mitigate increased turnover. There is no one-size-fix-all for ‘the great resignation’ but helping your employees feel valued and happy is a great place to start.”