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Have you thought about resigning?

5 April 2022 at 8:00 am
Sharon Gray
The Great Resignation is real, and it’s here. OzHarvest's Sharon Gray writes that honest staff engagement keeps a culture healthy.

Sharon Gray | 5 April 2022 at 8:00 am


Have you thought about resigning?
5 April 2022 at 8:00 am

The Great Resignation is real, and it’s here. OzHarvest’s Sharon Gray writes that honest staff engagement keeps a culture healthy.

A Texan psychologist named Anthony Klotz was interviewed by Bloomberg last year. They asked him what he thought the next year would look like for the business world. In that interview, the term “The Great Resignation” came into being. Klotz and his colleagues expected that – as the world emerged from the pressures of COVID – many employees would re-evaluate their lives, and their work. They would look for purpose and meaning, for work that has impact and for great people with whom to do that work.

Klotz was right – people are on the move, as they explore what is important to them, their careers and work life.

Where I work, at OzHarvest, we are already experiencing a higher than usual number of resignations. We are sad when anyone leaves us, but at the same time we are excited for them. We have great people in our organisation. If they have reflected on what is important for their careers, and have taken the steps to grab an opportunity to grow and do something different, they will still be great people –  wherever they are. 

Given our experience and our knowledge about our staff teams, we decided to be more proactive in how we prepare for “The Great Resignation”.

We began openly talking about resignation in our teams at every level, sharing whether we personally have thought about resigning, and asking why we have or haven’t. And we are sharing why we are choosing to stay. It takes bravery to be really honest in these discussions, and it has been a very interesting experience for all of us.

Approximately half of our people have thought about resigning. Why? Curiosity about opportunities that are out there; career progression; more money. And why do they stay? The work we do; the people they work with; the culture.

We will continue to work with our people to understand how we can retain them. We have initiated a “stay interview” program, interviewing five employees a week to find out what is working, and what is not. We will adapt and improve, taking the lead from our people.

Aside from discussing resignation, OzHarvest has adopted some key ingredients in our recipe to building increased staff engagement, retention and well-being (we are a food-focused organisation after all).

  • Define what your purpose and values are and talk about them every single day – our values are part of our recruitment, our meetings and continuous conversations. We encourage all our staff to experience going out in our vans or packing hampers or working in our supermarket to stay connected to our work and our impact.
  • Listen to your people – we survey our people often, we meet with them and ask them what they need and what they want. Understand what is important for your people and deliver that. Our people wanted training (so we created a Learning Framework and launched a mentor program) and opportunities (we’ve committed to a system that enables fluid upwards and sidewards moves, career opportunities and a chance to be involved in projects).
  • Provide relevant rewards and recognition – we provide salary packaging, entertainment benefits, access to EAP, access to a virtual gym, paid gratitude leave, birthday leave and self-care leave, an inclusive parental leave policy, a giving bank of leave, a mutual aid program and a pets at work plan.
  • Connect with your people every day (and we have had to be creative over the past two years!) – we host all-in events, innovation sessions, feel-good sessions, words of wisdom, lunch and learns. These are sessions for every employee, and as a national organisation, we have embraced Zoom. Surprise birthday parties, even baby showers can be done by Zoom. We are active on Slack (our internal communication platform) with great channels that share official and not so official content. #club-feel good is my favourite channel and we have a weekly theme to share feel-good vibes.
  • Support your people in the ways they need – the past few years have been tough and the work we do can be challenging. We have a social worker on staff to create mental health training opportunities, little snippets of learning every single week. More importantly we talk about mental health, we try to de-stigmatise it and share our vulnerabilities.
  • Allow your people to bring their whole selves to work – our diversity and inclusion strategy is underway, and we are taking small steps each week to provide training in this space for our people. We have collected our data and set ourselves goals to be better and do better always.
  • Develop great leaders – great leaders will lead great teams. We held our first Leaderfest in February this year (a day’s conference,  all about leadership) and one stream of our Learning Framework is all about leading with purpose. Our mentor program is proving really valuable in this work.
  • Celebrate always – we always cheer each other on. So many emojis, so many messages of support, so many motivational memes and high fives are shared at OzHarvest. In the chat channels or zoom meetings, on the phone, in person. COVID can’t stop celebrations.

We put a lot of effort into creating an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that we are proud of. It takes intentional effort every day to maintain it, live it and improve it. Our EVP has set us in a good position to ride the wave of The Great Resignation.

And on a personal note – have I thought about resigning? Yes. It has been such a busy and intense two years, and I was thinking I wanted something “easier”. But I reflected on why I came to OzHarvest and what is important to me in my work life – a strong leadership team, lived values, great people, positive and supportive culture, and fun, are why I chose to stay.

The Great Resignation matters to everyone. Even if you love your job and don’t plan to resign, time spent thinking about what you want from your work will always be valuable, and the value is not just with you.  Thinking about why you choose to stay or go will also be valuable to your organisation especially if they have invested in ways to learn from your reflections.

Sharon Gray  |  @ProBonoNews

Sharon Gray is the Head of People and Culture at Oz Harvest. She has worked in people leadership experience in the retail, hospitality, pharmaceutical and disability sectors for over 25 years.

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