The Diversity That Shapes Us: New Year, New Grass

Seasonal exits around the holidays are the norm, yet employers are now faced with an undertow of young professionals unwilling to conform to ‘how things have always been,’ writes Tyler Schmalenberg.

Image by Sora Shimazaki

Seasonal exits around the holidays are a phenomenon well-documented in multiple countries across the globe. In China, this comes after their biggest nationwide holiday, Lunar New Year. In North America, recruiters tend to log their highest numbers for job turnover just before the Christmas break and after January 1st.

Adding another dimension of complexity to this yearly exodus, employers are now openly dealing with an undertow of young professionals unwilling to conform to ‘how things have always been’ in traditional workspaces.

‘Quiet quitting’ – or what is now known as ‘job cuffing,’ which is basically quiet quitting with the added foresight of waiting for something better – is a widely felt counterculture that’s apathetic towards climbing the corporate ladder. A loose Chinese equivalent would be the concept of ‘tang ping’ 躺平, which means ‘lying flat’ in Mandarin. Popularised in China last year, the term ‘tang ping’ represents the rejection of overworking, an anti-hustle mentality.


 

Young professionals re-evaluating where they want to work in the new year have more bargaining power than ever for how companies should behave, and DE&I is central in this equation. In this article, we are going to be looking at the factors that predict employee retention and engagement, and how these can be strengthened through DE&I in most markets around the world.

Resolutions to Quit

In Asia, leaving your post after the Lunar New Year holidays has become quite a norm. Employees tend to stick around to receive their annual bonuses to then change jobs immediately after the holiday. This bonus expectation has empowered people to be in many ways reluctant to leave before having received this money.

“In Asia, leaving your post after the Lunar New Year holidays has become quite a norm. Employees tend to stick around to receive their annual bonuses to then change jobs immediately after the holiday.”

This tendency is completely overt, as job fairs are held in most cities after the holiday, specifically targeting people who could not or would not return to their previous jobs.


 

In the West, December and January are the months when more employees are most likely to jump ship. In 2022 monthly Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reports released by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, January and December logged some of the highest employee turnover rates at 4.4 million and 4.25 million respectively.

Prompted by seasonal changes and the tail end of the pandemic to re-evaluate their priorities in life, employees have been heading for greener pastures, demanding higher salaries, better working conditions, improved work-life balance and more opportunities to advance their career.

How DE&I Can Retain Happy Employees

A company culture that reinforces individual growth and ‘long term’ goals, does so by effectively engaging their employees with advancement opportunities and skill building.

A 2019 report from TINYPulse showed that more than 70% of high-retention-risk employees feel that they’ll be forced to leave their organisation to advance their careers. Another report from the Pew Research Centre, highlighted that the majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 said that no opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected at work (57%) were major reasons for why they quit.

Where DE&I initiatives can change these attitudes is by more proactively recognising individual potential rather than treating employees like replaceable clogs in the system. Nobody, especially young professionals, wants to stay in a work environment where they don’t feel safe and/or are pressured into doing things they are not equipped to do.

“Ultimately, limited opportunity is a breaking point for companies unwilling to invest in their employees. DE&I initiatives are in many ways the key to keeping employees engaged in their team and work.”

By building and maintaining a collaborative DE&I work culture, there is an integral element of trust gained from employees where objectives and individual capacities are identified and respected.

Among the top forecasted long-term labour market trends in 2023 from Indeed & Glassdoor, DE&I will remain a key priority in both attracting and retaining employees. On a similar note, EY’s 2022 EY US Generation Survey, found that 76% of full-time working Millennials said they’d leave an employer if diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives were not offered.

Taking one cross-border agency as an example – Eleven International

Our agency, Eleven International, grants employees autonomy over their work, so long as it’s done efficiently and effectively. The focus is to ensure that tasks given are proportionate to the capacity of the employee taking them on. And that effectiveness in execution takes precedence over corporate workplace formalities.

For us, here are the trends that we’ll keep in mind for 2023:

1) Remote work culture for many fits the script. As long as Millennials represent the largest fraction of our workforce, remote work isn’t likely to go anywhere. In the coming years, remote work opportunities will be a non-negotiable expectation.

2) Scalability and establishing skills for the long term. We know that if our team isn’t actively involved in decision-making and learning new skills, we aren’t investing in diversified services in an ecosystem that demands exactly that.

3) Efforts an institution takes to create a more welcoming environment results in greater employee retention. By creating a productive growth environment in particular, employees are empowered to identify roles that best fit them for the long term.

At Eleven International, we’re treated as savvy ‘go-getters’. Our own growth as professionals directly affects the company’s ability to grow, so investment in the team is a no-brainer for management. We’ve identified a niche and a purpose – helping start-ups in Asia go global. Therein lies a twofold purpose, to learn about our own markets in Asia and of target markets abroad.

Weighing Employee Investment against Employee Replaceability

Frequent voluntary turnover rates are proven to have a negative impact on an organisation in more ways than one. Perhaps the biggest concern employee turnover presents is its financial costs in terms of recruiting and training new employees to replace the ones lost. Some studies predict that the total cost of losing and replacing an employee can reach up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Ultimately, limited opportunity is a breaking point for companies unwilling to invest in their employees. DE&I initiatives are in many ways the key to keeping employees engaged in their team and work. To deny that as a part of company culture is to refuse to provide employees the space they need to grow.

In the end, who hustles for a game they’ll never win?

 

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