When worlds collide: Small business meets post pandemic life
1 December 2021
Almost nine in ten (85 percent) employees want to continue to work from home or retain flexible working practices once lockdown restrictions finish. But the latest business report from Findex shows employers want the opposite and for teams to return to the office for most, if not all, of the working week.
In some concerning findings from ‘When Worlds Collide: Small Businesses Meet Post-Pandemic Life’, employers seem disconnected from what their employees want in spite one in four SMEs already experiencing a higher than usual turnover following the onset of COVID-19.
Despite the popularity of remote and hybrid working models, almost two-thirds of employers want staff to return to the office for most of the working week despite acknowledging that they think only a third of staff will want to return to pre-COVID working arrangements. Furthermore, the majority of businesses have not consulted with their teams on their preferred working-from-home-model – and have no plans to do so.
At the same time, our survey of more than 500 Australian and New Zealand SMEs found that half of businesses (53 percent) are concerned about their ability to retain staff over the next twelve months. In fact, one in three businesses (33 percent) have noticed a drop in employee satisfaction this year.
It would appear the Great Resignation is no longer looming but very much here for small to medium enterprise throughout Australasia. And, as we pivot from elimination strategies to living alongside coronavirus, staff retention is emerging as the top business concern for the year ahead.
So, in an environment of skill shortages, immigration restrictions and greater talent mobility, what can SMEs do to compete for talent? As a first step, managers and leaders need to tap into what their employees want, as it’s clear there’s a big disconnect.
What matters most to employees is very different in a post-COVID world, particularly when it comes to work-life balance and flexible working. So, businesses should be looking to do everything in their power to retain their current workforce.
Hiring is becoming increasingly challenging so it’s concerning that half of businesses haven’t consulted their teams on their preferred ‘return to the office’ approach. But it’s not too late for businesses to find a way forward that can satisfy the needs of clients, employers and employees alike. The market is competitive but for the organisations prepared to change and adapt, they could be rewarded with the best of new talent and a modern business solution that is fit for purpose in the new working world order.
For more findings on how more than 500 business owners are navigating a return to office and the impacts ‘The Great Resignation’ is having on their ability to attract and retain talent, download ‘When Worlds Collide: Small Businesses Meet Post-Pandemic Life’.
 Australian Government Productivity Commission, ‘Working from Home’, Page 29