The world is not static – it evolves; neither are we humans: our preferences change. And one thing is certain: The way we want to work and what we expect from it has changed permanently. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated and brought the realization upon us –To rethink the way we work.
“Workers saw that quitting their jobs gave them a chance to take control of their personal and professional lives,” said Anthony Klotz. An Associate Professor at Texas A&M University, he was the one that coined the term in his May 2021 Bloomberg interview.
This happened with Ajay Patel, Work Process Specialist at Create Time Consultants. He was given two choices – take a new assignment or leave. Ajay saw this as an opportunity to build his own business and left his last employer in October 2021.
“Because the company made promises that assured me I could still be home and drop my son off at day-care every day. This was on day 1. Fast forward 6 months, and those promises were coming undone,” he explained.
The new assignment also required Ajay to travel half the time. So he either had the option to maximize his earnings; or choose a path where he could spend more time with his family.
“This was a loser deal for me. To face reality where I took more time away from my family for a few more bucks didn’t appeal,” he added.
Like Ajay, this has been the case and cause for many who have left their jobs in the last year and a half.
Despite so many people quitting and swapping jobs, it remains a doubt for many who ask –
Is The Great Resignation Real?
The Great Resignation upended workforce dynamics in 2021 and continues to in 2022. And this is very much a reality. According to the US Department of Labor, in March and April 2022 there were approximately 9 million workers who quit their jobs. Making a case that the Great Resignation is a ground reality, but still, many companies ‘are not getting it right’.
So, this brings us to a burning question –
Why is the Great Resignation Happening?
As Klotz said, “The pandemic brought the future of work into the present of work.”
On-going Health Fears and the realization of the meaning of ‘work-life integration’ –
The pandemic brought the attention of the world to the importance of health. The alarming death rates and loss of loved ones made one thing clear, life triumphs over work.
Additionally, other factors such as child care and high levels of burnout during the pandemic made people re-evaluate their expectations from work. According to a survey by Glassdoor, the proportion of reviews discussing burn-out increased by 100% in 2021.
The ‘workism’ no longer remained a norm and life became a priority.
Remote work changed the outlook:
Early 2020 brought the transition from ‘office-work’ to ‘home-work’. We learned the taste of flexible work hours and how they factor into making our lives better. Casual seating, no formal dress codes, no long commutes to work, and a comfortable environment led to huge mindset shifts. “More than third respondents said their work-life balance was better at the height of Pandemic”, in a survey for Beamery’s Talent Index USA.
The “worth it” equation took center form.
As mentioned above, with a solidified shift in people’s perspective and what they want from work; their emphasis on needs has increased many-fold.
Also, there is a sudden increase in the talk about mental health and more C-level executives addressing the pressures. This has added to unhappiness becoming the likely quotient for quitting, and one moment is all it takes to take the plunge in the other direction.
“A third of workers – managers and non-managers alike – said that they were considering changing companies for the sake of their mental health”. (A report by Forrester Consulting Inc commissioned by Modern Health)
Toxic Company Culture
According to a recent MIT Sloan Management Review Article by Donald Sull (MIT Professor), Charles Sull (a Founder), and Ben Zweig (A CEO), “A toxic corporate culture is by far the strongest predictor of industry-adjusted attrition, and is 10 times more important than compensation in predicting turnover.”
The same article-study also found that “companies with a reputation of healthy cultures, including Southwest Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and LinkedIn, experienced lower-than-average turnover.”
Culture is driven by how companies think of their employees and workplace. Fair treatment, respect, unethical behavior, and inclusion make up the internal culture at companies. This all escalated in the post-pandemic world due to the increasing adoption of reflective mindsets and questioning norms.
So much for unsatisfied needs and wants being at the core of Great Resignation; but what are these?
What do employees want?
“This shift is different,” says Amplify’s Lars Schmidt in a LinkedIn report, “because this shift isn’t just about tools and technology. It’s about mindset, about desires, about the expectations from both employees and employers. It impacts so many different things and it’s happening in such an accelerated time frame.”
A new insight that Great Resignation brought to light is employees are seeking skills and career advancements. They want to grow and evolve and want to be offered such opportunities.
According to Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PWC said in their latest report, “Rewarding [work] has to get defined in new and different ways as employees are looking for changes to that work, especially as you think about how automation can help reduce the monotony and some of the routine type of things that they do.”
As much as 83% of respondents said that they want their company to support career progression. (Beamery’s Talent Index USA)
In post-pandemic times, people want the opportunity to spend more time with their families and kids. Instead of just sticking to their basic 9-5. They want to work on their terms and no longer want to be micromanaged by their superiors.
“Because these work arrangements give us more flexibility and control over our lives. And more autonomy and freedom in how we structure our lives. I don’t think most people are willing to go back to a traditional work environment,” Anthony Klotz addressed in his Bloomberg Interview.
Prime cause why this wave also saw many charting their own path. According to Digital.com, a leading review website for small businesses, published a report which states “more than 1/3rd Americans are quitting their jobs to start their own business”.
Beyond high pay, employees want care and compassion, whether it’s emotional, physical, mental or financial. The shift in working scenarios brought a change in how employers and employees connected. “There’s no longer a separation between home and work life”, says Becky Garroch, the VP of people and places at Digital River, in a LinkedIn report.
With this amalgamation, employees now look up to their employers to be more empathetic towards their families as well.
Purpose Driven Work:
The rising tide of resignation also put forward – meaningful work is what we want. The pandemic with its drastic impact, became a catalyst for people questioning their purpose and values. They now want to work where they can contribute more than results. Where they align and sync with an organization’s purpose. Thus, some call it “The Great Reflection”.
“People have developed a new sense of awareness and worth for themselves and the world around them. This is prompting them to demand more personal value and purpose from both life and work.”, according to a recent Gartner Survey.
Employees want the power to make small decisions about their work. There is a constant desire to be more humanly and more authentic at work instead of being robotic – where they are fed instructions without acknowledgement. They want power to pursue their plans and be heard for their ideas.
“Feeling empowered to contribute to the best of their ability, and having their contributions valued, matters more than paycheck or title to many employees.”, says Josh Cyphers, President of Nvoicepay, a FLEETOR Company.
In light of the situations which led to the current scenario; organizations need internal restructuring involving both human and technological aspects. For instance new unified systems created using technologies like Commercient SYNC . Along with new policies and procedures addressing the changed demands of the employees.
To learn how you can better implement the solutions and what measures can you take in the first place, keep an eye on our blog. Part two answering these queries is coming soon.