“The Great Resignation” Shows that Corporate Social Responsibility Starts at the OfficeYolandaAD
Since April 2021, over 19 million US workers have quit their jobs – a record breaking figure that is disrupting the business world. This phenomenon has been coined “The Great Resignation”. This isn’t just limited to the United States of America. Employees all over the world are voluntarily leaving their current roles, even in job scarce countries such as South Africa. Between April 2021 and October 2021, staff turnover in South Africa has increased by 16% across all sectors, with the main reason an employee leaves employment being resignation.
Even as the Covid pandemic wanes and life returns to the ‘new normal’, the rate of resignations is not slowing. This pattern reflects the ongoing dissatisfaction employees have with their employers and work environments. The pandemic has given employees the opportunity to become more conscious of their quality of life than ever before and employees have therefore started reorganising their priorities, careers, work/life balance, mental and emotional wellbeing, and life goals.
Among the main reasons identified for the ‘great resignation’ is that employees are seeking greater self-fulfilment and sense of purpose – something they know their current careers or employers cannot provide. In South Africa, businesses face the risk of losing highly-skilled and talented individuals due to burnout, workplace dissatisfaction, shifting priorities, and emigration. It is evident that many employers in South Africa have neglected their greatest assets – their staff.
While the world might have slowed down during the pandemic, the global workforce is more overworked than it has ever been. Companies have forgotten the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) starting at home – within their office walls. Apart from introducing remote-working and hybrid work models, businesses have failed to revise employee policies and benefits to accommodate life during and after a pandemic. Furthermore, the lack of social interaction that was otherwise standard pre-covid times has seen a decrease in employee incentives and initiatives. Internal Corporate Social Responsibility has taken a back seat.
Internal CSR refers to the actions that corporations choose to take to satisfy the expectations and needs of employees. It focuses on employee engagement, employee wellbeing, and employee growth (both personal and career). And while some companies might still have employee-centred CSR initiatives in place, they have failed to adjust them to current times. Employees need more from their places of work. Their needs now surpass financial incentives – many are battling mental health challenges due to the lack of boundaries and unrealistic work demands, grief, personal difficulties, and an existential crisis. However, this time around employees are not waiting for companies to become more humanity-centred, they’re simply going elsewhere, semi-grating, or choosing self-employment.
The Great Resignation highlights the current lack of impactful internal corporate social responsibility (CSR). And while organisations readjust to the ‘new normal’ and ‘great resignation’, few companies are using internal Corporate Social Investment to future-proof their work environments and expectations. As a result, companies will continue to experience high staff turnover costs and the erosion of employee loyalty. Eventually, this will result in weakened brand and customer loyalty, and poor financial performance. Internal CSR is not a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘company feel-good factor’, it is the basis for employee health and well-being, and therefore the basis for the company’s continued existence.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
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