In June this year, the world was rocked by the news that the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU). Predictably, the following questions ensued.
Were the votes counted correctly?
Can the EU even work without the UK?
Wait… What is the EU?
From global stock market crashes to racial attacks, the decision colloquially known as Brexit has shocked the world. This is largely because it was an unpredicted outcome, with popular opinion prior to the vote indicating that the UK would vote to remain.
Hindsight makes it amusing to see that British voters were frantically Googling what the EU was after the vote, but more realistically, it shows the consequences of being unprepared and caught off guard during major events.
In much the same way, a resignation from an integral employee can cause shockwaves around the office. Financially, it can cost between $16 000-$900 000 to replace an employee, with costs only increasing if you can’t find an adequate replacement.
This is where Brexit starts teaching us lessons we can use in the workplace. Its complexity shows you how to act when the world doesn’t quite go your way.
So, how can you avoid your employees pulling a Brexit on you?
There are no do-overs for the Brexit vote, but your workplace won’t be as strict. Use exit interviews as an opportunity for employees to raise issues they may have felt uncomfortable speaking about before. Did they feel overqualified? Was the workplace environment unproductive? Even if it was a personal decision, an employee who’s leaving is often more willing to provide honest and constructive feedback. These interviews will help you understand why an employee would leave in the workplace, and can reveal issues that may otherwise be hidden.
Increase employee trust
Unlike Australia, a referendum in the UK is voluntary, not compulsory. This means that Brexit was a rare chance for citizens to demonstrate their opinion with the understanding that it would result in action. This referendum hinged on citizens trusting the government to act upon the results; otherwise, the vote would have no bearing.
In the same way, you should strive to increase your employees’ trust in your company. In many cases, employees may not provide honest feedback due to scepticism that it will be effectively acted upon. This is a cycle of unproductivity and miscommunication that you must work to break. Let your employees’ know that they’re welcome to provide constructive criticism and you’ll be in a better place to help it happen.
British citizens have poked fun at Brexit by claiming they will leave the country rather than face the consequences of the decision. Whilst this was done in good humour, it reveals an uncanny reality. When the conditions of an environment change against personal preference, the willingness of someone to remain in that environment decreases.
This is why you should make sure your workplace is adaptable to the needs of your employees’. Recent surveys have found that workplace flexibility is one of the highest ranking concerns for employees as they strive to maintain a work-life balance. Offering flexibility can convince your employees to stick around as it shows you can treat them like adults who can handle their multiple responsibilities. A productive work-life balance is also essential in generating higher productivity and collaboration in your workplace.
It can be pretty frustrating remaining in a situation that you believe is inhibiting progression and growth. With Brexit gaining criticism for being a step backwards, companies need to ensure your employees have a chance to go forwards.
Offering the chance for promotion and progression is essential in inspiring productivity and willingness to remain in a company. Millennials value career progression more than cash incentives, and they’ll grow to be 50% of the workforce by 2020. Prepare for the future by showing your employees that they have a chance for progression, and they’ll have less incentive to seek outside roles.
Transparency and communication
The last thing you want to do is make a decision for the wrong reasons. Surveys found that there was widespread misunderstanding over the realities of the Brexit vote, meaning that some voters were making uninformed decisions. In the same way, you may unintentionally be encouraging your employees to leave through ineffective communication.
If your goals and objectives aren’t communicated transparently and effectively to your employees, how can they fulfil them? Making an effort to communicate company goals will facilitate a sense of unity and productivity in the workplace. It will show your employees the importance of their role to overall company strategy, and will consistently drive motivation for their role.
Opinions may be divided over Brexit, but the reality is that it happened. Learn from the shock of Brexit and don’t risk enabling a preventable loss in your own workplace. Create a workplace that your employees enjoy, feel comfortable in and are communicated with regularly so that resignations are few and far between.
Help your workplace adapt to employee resignations by making it a place that serves employees and your company. Address the issues that force employees to leave, and there will be less chance of them pulling a Brexit on you.