IAN FERGUSON: Employers must wake up to staff discontent


Ian Ferguson

The past two-and-a-half years have possibly seen the most dramatic shift in the labour market, and work environment, in Bahamian history. Unemployment rates during the pandemic hit unprecedented levels and now, two years later, as companies recover in leaps and bounds, frictional joblessness and mass resignation has become our new reality.

A recent US-based study conducted by Microsoft found that 41 percent of the global workforce would consider leaving their current employer within the next year. Additionally, a poll from Monster found that 95 percent of workers are at least contemplating a job change. These surveys speak the workforce language of the global village. Now that the going is good, employees (especially millennials and Gen Z-ers) are ready to move.

What happened? How did we go from record unemployment to labour shortages? Exactly why is there so much discontent in the current workplace in The Bahamas, in particular, and how does the employer address these concerns?

1 The year of the great reset

So many persons laid-off or furloughed from their jobs determined that 2020-2021 was the ideal time to refocus their energy toward their passions. Even when called back to their workplaces, many refused in pursuit of entrepreneurial efforts or jobs more aligned with what they enjoy.

2 Work from home options

Many persons realised that working from home has tremendous benefits, and literally thousands of Bahamian parents (mothers in particular) now see the value of home/work balance. Additionally, there are many who fear the still-raging pandemic and subsequent variants popping up each day, and would much rather remain at home.

3 New Opportunities

New business opportunities in technology, services, tourism and hospitality have opened many avenues for employment that meet the compensation and benefits demands of new employees. The ‘secure government job’ scenario in the wake of contractual arrangements no longer holds public officers to these assignments. Everyone is open game.

4 Rigid workplace policies

Most persons handing in their resignations are simply fed up with the culture that currently exists. The old adage is true: People do not leave their jobs; they leave their managers. What they also leave is the ideology and philosophy of the workplace that might be stagnant, repressive and dated. When your promotion policies are not tied to performance or leadership capacity, but rather tenure or political (workplace or government) affiliation, it becomes rather easy for employees to make up their minds to leave.

It is time for leaders to wake up and listen carefully to the professionals in the people and culture business. Do not allow your top talent to take the walk and leave your business in a lurch with sub-standard employees. This, I promise you, is a dangerous position to be in. 

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.


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