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The post-pandemic period has been a time of great change for businesses already. The heavy losses and adaptations of new business models are inspiring new approaches to growth and management. One of the larger examples of this change can be found in the swift adoption of hybrid working by many UK businesses. Many businesses approved of home-working practices by employees during the coronavirus lockdowns. However, something else has been brewing in businesses. Spurred on by the pandemic and hastened by an ongoing cost-of-living crisis: The Great Upgrade. But what is it, and how might it affect your business?
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What Is the Great Upgrade?
The Great Upgrade is a worker-defined movement. It’s the natural next step in another multinational phenomenon which has had profound ramifications for the majority of industry: The Great Resignation. In the UK and USA, the return to “business as usual” caused employees to begin asking questions about their contract. They’re asking about everything, from obligations to work to their salary.
In the UK, the fast-rising rate of inflation has been met by wage stagnation. This resulted in a real-terms pay cut for the average worker despite record profits for many larger businesses. In the US, labor laws differ by state. However, many allow for a paltry minimum wage below the cost of living, and allow employers to offer few benefits. These separate triggers, coupled with the shorter-term troubles caused by the pandemic, have had the effect of galvanizing large swathes of the working population to resign from their positions.
However, not all workers are simply resigning. Many are in fact negotiating better contracts at rival businesses, securing themselves a living wage and employment benefits where they were previously taken advantage of. In America in particular, this has become known as the Great Upgrade.
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Power in Numbers
The chief mechanism behind the Great Upgrade is the bargaining power that employees have in numbers. This has already been well-demonstrated in the UK. For example, with unions and strike action a fundamental tenet of national working culture.
As businesses scrabble to fill gaps in their teams, they are forced to address the contracts they offer to new hires. And with a savvier working population ready to negotiate, employee treatment and living wages are once again becoming a priority.
What Can Businesses Do?
The Great Upgrade doesn’t represent a problem for a majority of businesses – instead, it represents an opportunity. By ensuring you offer the right terms and benefits, you’ll be hiring employees who are happier, more engaged and more likely to stay long-term, benefitting company growth as a result.
Reducing hours is one powerful way to do this, using measures such as outsourcing your payroll management to lighten the load on your staff. Reducing hours paves the way for flexible hours, allowing employees to plan their day meaningfully and spend more time with family or on personal growth. Employee wellbeing can also secure intake, with benefits such as access to private mental healthcare and development programs to help with the building of new skills.
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