Business/Economy

Inflation is affecting employees, and employers should pay attention

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

According to the Inside Employees’ Minds Report by the human resources consulting firm Mercer, which surveyed 4,049 employees between Aug. 26 and Sept. 9, it’s financial worries. 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 threat of 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 who remain with their employers have noticed that colleagues who 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 those 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 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 who work onsite (72%).

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Contrary to popular belief, remote employees aren’t measurably more likely to leave their employers than those who work onsite: 63% of onsite 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 nonmonetary 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 them 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 be onsite offer employees? My book “Managing for Accountability” outlines many no-cost strategies. Here are three:

-- Allow your employees to reorder their 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 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. work schedule that shaves off as much as an hour from rush hour commute time. According to a study reported at businessnewsdaily.com, 26% 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.

-- Grant your employees the ability to step away from portions of their workday so they can schedule time helping their school-age children or take care of personal needs.

-- Allow employees unable to work full time 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.

Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Navigating Conflict,” “Managing for Accountability,” “Solutions” and “Beating the Workplace Bully,” and workplacecoachblog.com. Curry is president of Communication Works Inc. Send questions to her at workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach or follow her on Twitter @lynnecurry10.

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