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Woke workplaces causing senior employees to leave organisations

A third (33%) of UK workers over 55 described their workplace as ‘too woke’, almost double the percentage of those under 35 years old (17%), according to new research.

Half of over-55s working somewhere they deemed woke, i.e. excessively alert to social injustice, said that the ‘wokeness’ of their workplace made them more likely to leave, according to research from recruiter Randstad UK.

Only 29% of workers under 35 who thought their workplace was too woke said they would leave because of it. 

While 22% of men said their workplace was too woke, only 13% of women said the same. 

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Victoria Short, chief executive of Ranstad said the figures have implications for retention in a competitive labour market.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Senior staff members are departing the workforce early, depriving their employers of their invaluable institutional knowledge, as well as professional experience. This polling suggests one of the factors pushing them away is what they perceive to be overly woke workplaces.”  

While inclusive change is important, Short said HR teams shouldn’t forget that it needs to be delivered in a way that does not alienate members of the team.

She added: “If workplaces don't accommodate a broad range of views and, most importantly, bring people along in their understanding of all of the issues, they risk an increasing stream of knowledge out of the door. 

“Don’t over-reach or forget that change needs gradual and positive encouragement; when you forget that, and you forget to speak to a vital part of your internal audience, that's when you alienate more moderate members of the team.”  

David Liddle, CEO and chief consultant at mediation consultancy The TCM Group, however warned HR teams not to jump to conclusions based on this data.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “The issue of wokeness is potentially divisive and an easy trap to fall into. HR teams should listen to the concerns, needs and aspirations of their people. Review your values and purpose and [re-establish] them as a golden thread that can unite your workforce.”

Liddle said HR should resolve conflict regarding wokeness early and ensure that parties can work together to achieve mutually acceptable and positive outcomes.

He added: “It is vital that HR act as the peacemakers of the workplace and for that reason they must not be seen to be on the side of managers. They should avoid applying retributive or sanction based systems for resolving issues and embrace transformative justice which is fair, restorative and humane."