Post-pandemic American workplaces are still returning to the “new normal.” Organizations must cope with higher-than-average turnover and high levels of employee burnout, according to the latest collaborative survey from MindEdge Learning and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI).
The online survey, HR and the Changing Workplace, received responses from more than 1,000 HRCI-certified Human Resources professionals. Two-of-three (67%) respondents indicated their workplaces are at least “mostly back to normal” – with those who work in Manufacturing (80%) and Education (76%) most likely to say that normalcy has returned.
The survey results also clearly indicated that for most organizations, “normal” does not necessarily mean “the same.” Only 22% of respondents said that “almost everything is like it was before the pandemic,” while 33% reported that conditions at their organizations are fairly different or extremely different from the pre-pandemic norm.
For many organizations, this “new normal” entails a hybrid work schedule: 78% of respondents said their organization allows employees to work remotely at least part of the time. And a majority (52%) of these HR professionals indicated their organization is conducting HR functions remotely all or most of the time.
Respondents seem fairly happy with their post-pandemic work arrangements. Two-of-five (42%) shared that conditions at their organization are better than they were before the pandemic, while only 20% noted that conditions are worse. Another 38% said that conditions are basically the same as they were before the pandemic.
The perception that conditions are better than before is much higher among those who work remotely at least some of the time (49%) than among those who do not work remotely (24%).
Employee turnover remains high
What is not back to normal is employee retention. Fully 67% of these HR professionals noted that turnover at their organization is higher than before the pandemic, including 25% who indicated that turnover rates are much higher. In the 2021 MindEdge/HRCI survey, 54% of respondents reported that turnover was higher than before the pandemic.
Turnover is particularly high in the Education (76%) and Healthcare (74%) sectors.
Coping with this turnover is not an easy task: fully 82% of HR professionals shared that finding replacements for departing workers is difficult, including 26% who said that finding new workers is very difficult.
High turnover is being driven primarily by the large number of employees who are accepting better offers from other organizations: 68% of respondents identify the stiff competition for talent as a serious problem for their organization. Other significant problems contributing to high turnover include employee burnout (48%) and the departure of younger workers who are dissatisfied with traditional work arrangements (41%).
Competition from other organizations is a particular problem in the Technology sector (76%). Burnout is an especially acute problem in the Retail (71%) and Healthcare (70%) sectors.
Overall, more than four-of-five (82%) respondents indicated they have seen an increase in employee burnout at their organization, including 28% who reported a major increase. These figures are consistent with the results of our 2021 survey, which found 80% of respondents reporting an increase in employee burnout.
Organizations offering more flexibility, higher pay
The combination of high turnover and employee burnout is forcing many organizations to institute new policies to adapt to the changing workplace. Foremost among these is the introduction of more flexible working arrangements: fully 66% of respondents said their organization has already introduced more flexibility to the workplace, and another 4% are planning to do so.
Other workplace changes include:
- Benefits to help employees cope with stress: 51% of organizations have already introduced such benefits, and 11% plan to do so
- Higher pay: 49% of organizations have increased compensation in the wake of the pandemic, and 14% plan to do so
- Providing job-skills training as an employee benefit: 39% of organizations have already done so, and 11% plan to offer these benefits in the future.
At the same time, most organizations have not embraced the idea of training their employees in how to work remotely. Only 40% of respondents said their organization offers remote-work training, and only 24% provided such training to all employees. “With so many organizations adopting fully remote or hybrid work arrangements, training employees for remote work seems like simple common sense,” said Frank Connolly, director of communications and research for MindEdge Learning. “But the majority of organizations have yet to recognize the wisdom of this simple idea.”
The hiring surge continues
Almost all respondents reported that their organizations are currently hiring: 97% noted that their organization is taking on new employees, including 54% who said they were hiring at a faster rate than before the pandemic.
Based on the survey results regarding hiring, HRCI Chief Learning and Revenue Officer, David Meginley, GPHR observed “this combination of hybrid workforce realities and an increased hiring demand for new talent underscores the value for well-prepared, skilled professionals. HRCI’s eight certification programs along with our catalog of specialized certificate and individual courses allow HR practitioners to strengthen their knowledge and competencies that have immediate impact on business outcomes.”
Respondents in the Healthcare (73%), Retail (63%) and Education (56%) sectors are most likely to say that they are now hiring at a faster rate than before.
With a majority of organizations conducing HR functions remotely, respondents are experiencing at least some difficulties in dealing with this surge in hiring:
- 75% indicated that recruiting is harder than before the pandemic, including 35% who said it is much harder
- 33% shared that remote onboarding is harder than in-person onboarding, and just 12% said that remote onboarding is easier
- 27% noted that remote interviews are less productive than in-person interviews, compared to 22% who said they are more productive.