Many thought that the Great Resignation was a one-time correction of how the labor market worked. They believed it was a reaction to the home-working habits forged during the pandemic lockdown. However, things haven’t gone back to how they were before, and it looks like they never will. What’s changed, and how do talent leaders live with this new normal?
Ours is a dynamic world, where adapting is the only way to persist. In recent times, humanity has endured many unforeseen changes; the biggest one being the Covid-19 pandemic. Societal changes can leave an indelible imprint on the economic and financial lives of people.
The Great Resignation has proven itself a worthy example. It’s had a global impact and we haven’t seen the last of it.
What is the Great Resignation?
The Great Resignation can be defined as an ongoing trend of an unusually high amount of workers quitting their jobs. They often do this in search of opportunities that fit them better. The trend can also be seen spanning across jobs that pay people well or provide other such benefits. It’s suggestive of a general dissatisfaction in the workforce.
It’s becoming clear that modern workers care about more than just money – they also value their well-being and healthy working.
Workers are an organization’s greatest resource, cultural drivers, and a testament to their values. Employee retention in the light of this issue becomes and should be a major concern. Employers need to understand the grievances behind the Great Resignation in order to respond to them effectively and retain talent.
What has caused workers to resign?
One of the biggest consequences of the pandemic has been the increased regard for human health. This has compelled people and organizations to prioritize physical and mental wellbeing.
- According to a health and wellbeing survey report by CIPD, mental health is the most common focus of well-being activity over the last few years. In 2021, more organizations focused on this area (57%, up from 41% in 2020), which is in line with the fact that COVID-19 has prompted a greater focus on mental health.
Recently, there has been a power shift from employers to workers. Workers understand that they deserve more and are willing to change jobs and strive for a better work-life balance.
Greater health concerns
Covid, despite being on its last legs, has left millions of people with the horrors of prolonged illness and loss of life. People, in general, have become more particular about their lifestyle and the risks they put themselves under. This is particularly true for those working in the healthcare and retail sectors, where the job demands them to be physically present and in contact with the customers. These sectors have seen the highest amount of resignations over concerns of exposure to the virus. Additionally, as Covid began to abate, life started getting back to normal. Consequently, workers that had stayed during the Covid period in their existing jobs (due to financial security) subsequently felt empowered to leave and seek out other employment prospects.
More flexibility at work
Since the pandemic started, many organizations adapted to online working at a fast rate. This massively changed the work structure for organizations.
- According to research by Harvard Business Review, workers between the age of 30 and 45 years old have the highest rate of resignation, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021; pointing out that they are more particular about work flexibility as compared to younger employees. People now prefer greater flexibility in their work schedules and the ability to maintain a better work-life balance.
Availability of better opportunities
With many industries shifting to a flexible or hybrid model of working, people are being afforded more choices of where they choose to work by prospective employers. There are now fewer geographical constraints, which means people can apply for jobs from all around the world while being at home. Which in turn has opened up the talent market to a global audience. With higher job openings, people are willing to shift to a company where they have more benefits, and worker satisfaction is high. The overall reluctance in making a change has reduced. People are more open to changing jobs to fit their lifestyle.
How can organizations address these problems and ensure employee retention?
Focus on employee safety and wellbeing
According to a MetLife study on worker benefit trends in 2020, 74% of workers are concerned about at least one aspect of their wellbeing (such as financial wellbeing and psychological safety) as a result of the Covid pandemic and are less willing to compromise it. In such a case, they require assurance from their employers with respect to their wellbeing and socio-economic safety.
Adapting to the changing work culture
With more people working from home in the past 2 years, the culture of remote work and flexibility has been accelerated. Organizations too, have to adapt to this change and make structural changes to cope with this new way of working. Companies like Deloitte have released a Workplace strategy workbook as an elaborate planner, focusing on the operations, logistics, and finance of the changes that are required to be introduced to cater to the new way of working. Want to reduce workforce attrition? If you do, then you need to be more flexible in your approach to work culture.
Introducing employee welfare opportunities
Workers now have more options in the job market. There needs to be a driving factor that motivates them and makes them content. These could include benefits such as:
– Personal development opportunities
– Aligning company values with the values of employees (so they feel a sense of belongingness)
– Opportunities to explore their work and discover what suits best for them through internal migrations and networking opportunities
Google, for instance, paid their female employees an extra remuneration to cover for the disparity between male and female salaries. This gives employees an indication that the company believes in fair treatment and is taking action for it.
The Great Resignation is a defining reality of the talent market today. As a talent leader, it is important to recognize that this is no short-term phenomenon—It represents a permanent attitudinal shift in your workforce owing to factors beyond your control, and far beyond the norm.
Owing to global talent shortages, qualified and experienced workers find themselves with the upper hand in labor force negotiations, and it’s a reality that employers need to get used to.
The retention of employees remains crucial for any company and the most effective way to influence it is by listening and understanding the needs of the ‘humans’ behind the work, rather than treating workers as necessary cogs in your corporate machine. You’ve experienced the Great Resignation; now you need to learn how to live with it.