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MANAGING STAFF

Inflation’s impact on employees and the workplace

By Lynne Curry

What keeps your employees and coworkers up at night, and what does it mean to you as their employer or colleague?

According to the U.S. 2022 Inside Employees’ Minds Report conducted by the HR consulting firm Mercer, which surveyed 4049 employees between Aug. 26 and Sept. 9, 2022, it’s financial worries, https://www.mercer.us/content/dam/mercer/attachments/private/us-2022-inside-employees-minds-report.pdf. The number one issue for many employees in 2022—can they cover monthly expenses given skyrocketing inflation—ranked only ranked ninth in 2021. As no surprise, employee satisfaction with their employers has declined markedly from last year in the areas of compensation and benefits.

Further, two years of continued crises—the pandemic, layoffs and labor shortages, supply chain challenges, political and racial polarization, the war in Ukraine, and the looming recession—have changed how employees view work. Employees who once focused on career achievement and climbing the corporate ladder now instead focus on their financial and emotional health and well-being.

For many employers, employee retention has become an urgent problem. According to the Mercer report, one out of every three employees report they’re considering leaving their employer, up from one in four last year. The top reason—pay. Employees that remain with their employers have noticed that colleagues that switch jobs often increase their pay more than those who remain in place.

Employers that rely on entry-level workers need to evaluate whether they pay a living wage given the 8.2% year-over-year inflation. One out of every three employees making less than $60,000 reports taking on additional jobs to supplement their income.

Given the labor shortages that have affected many employers, it’s no surprise that burnout due to heavy workloads has become the second reason employees consider leaving their current employers. According to the Mercer report, 51% of the 4049 employees surveyed report “on a typical day, I feel exhausted.” Other stunning percentages include that 44% of employees report feeling “overwhelmed;” 43% “chaotic”; 42% “frustrated”; 36% “disregarded”, and 33% “isolated”.

The report includes some good news, particularly for employers that offer employees hybrid and remote work. 77% of hybrid employees and 77% of remote employees report “I can maintain a reasonable balance between my personal and work life”. A higher percentage (77%) of hybrid employees report feeling a sense of belonging within their work teams than do employees that work on-site (72%).

Contrary to popular belief, remote employees aren’t measurably more likely to leave their employers than those who work on-site. 63% of on-site employees, 64% of remote employees and 65% of hybrid employees responded affirmatively to the question, “At present, I’m not seriously considering leaving the company.”

What non-monetary but rewarding benefit can employers provide employees to induce them to stay? Two-thirds of the employees surveyed want greater flexibility than they now receive to allow themselves to balance work and other priorities. For example, 55% of employees want to be able to easily take time away from work for “everyday life” events.

What types of flexibility can employers that need employees to on-site offer employees? Managing for Accountability’s chapter 9 https://bit.ly/3T3vww8 outlines many no-cost strategies. Here are three:

  1. Allow your employees to reorder their working hours to create a schedule that works best for them if they can do so while still meeting client and customer needs. For commuting employees, this may mean a seven a.m. to three p.m. work schedule that shaves off as much as an hour from rush hour commute time. According to a study reported in businessnewsdaily.com, 26 percent of employees stated that the freedom to choose when they start and end their shifts is one of the two most important flexible policies they desired.
  2. Grant your employees the ability to step away from portions of their workday so they can schedule time helping their school-age children or taking care of personal needs.
  3. Allow employees unable to work fulltime the ability to work a part-time schedule or to job share, gaining your workplace two minds synergistically tackling one role.

Our economy and world have shifted. We need to shift with it to survive and thrive.

Remember to sign up for Lynne Curry’s Jan. 19 webinar on Navigating Conflict. It’s free for members of Law Office Manager. Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, author of “Navigating Conflict” (Business Experts Press, 2022); “Managing for Accountability (BEP, 2021); “Beating the Workplace Bully,” AMACOM 2016, and “Solutions” is President of Communication Works, Inc. and founder of www.workplacecoachblog.com, which offers more than 400 articles on topics such as leadership, COVID, management, HR, and personal and professional development.  Curry has qualified in Court as an expert witness in Management Best Practices, HR and Workplace issues. You can reach her at https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/ or follow her @lynnecurry10 on twitter.

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