More than just droves of employees leaving the workplace, the ‘Great Resignation’ represents a world-wide rejection of outdated working conditions and a demand for support that workers didn’t realize they previously lacked.
Beginning in April 2021, the ‘Great Resignation’ movement quickly snowballed until a record 10.9 million jobs opened up in the United States in July 2021. For many workers, pandemic-related pressures were the straw on the camel’s back after realizing they had put up with less than ideal compensation and arrangements for years.
As worker dissatisfaction in America grew, so did international media attention on the topic. Before long, discourse on detrimental work conditions and workplace dissatisfactions – once an absolute taboo – became normalized.
An increasing number of employees across The United States were coming to the same conclusion: putting up with work pressures was no longer worth it. With bargaining chips now on their side, 63% of job switchers in America said low paychecks and lack of advancement opportunities were the top factors behind their exits.
Mixed forecasts on the 2022 resignation calendar
Early predictions suggest that more resignation waves will come this year, as the remaining workers become emboldened by their peers to take the leap. In the US, media reports show that 52% are planning to look for a new job this year – a 43 percent increase from 2020 and 2019.
These forecasts don’t bode well for companies, who will have to invest time and resources into finding the right people, convincing them to come on board, and training them to get up to speed.
That said, employees may not wish to hop around forever. If wages stabilize employees will be likely to need something more substantial to put on their resume. Besides, employees are looking for the right place to settle into, and hope for a right fit just as much, if not more, than their employers. So, instead of playing defense and trying to prevent new employees from leaving, it makes a lot more sense to give employees a reason. This can be achieved by promoting a positive culture, creating robust support systems, and providing employees with meaningful work.
In other words, the tables have turned. If your organization wants to employ someone from the ‘Great Resignation’ era, you have to convince these new hires that they made the right choice by choosing your company for the next stage of their career.
Meeting the expectations of a diverse workforce
Employees leave for a variety of reasons, but chief amongst those reasons is because they feel undervalued. Recent anecdotal reports in the US show that workers are leaving respectable positions because they felt disrespected at work. In some cases, toxic environments had simply become too much for them to hold onto.
To many employees, being respected means more than just being treated cordially. It means having work arrangements that accommodate their lifestyles and the difficulties they face.
This is especially the case for part-time workers, freelancers and employees with children or elderly to take care of. The flexibility of work-from-home arrangements has given these employees more time and energy to focus on self-care which in many cases has renewed their energy at work and boosted their productivity.
Yet other studies in the US suggest the opposite. Some employees who have been working remotely cite increased workloads and declining social and physical wellbeing. This mixed bag of reviews simply shows that different people thrive under different conditions.
The solution – Options
A simple solution to this issue is to provide employees with options.
As branding expert Richard Etienne put it, the (pre-pandemic) workplace was created by extroverts, for extroverts. On the other hand, the hybrid workplace allows employees to come in on a need-to basis, providing an alternative space for workers when they need to switch up the work environment or hold discussions in person. This empowers employees by placing autonomy back in their hands.
More importantly, it signals to employees that their employer trusts them to take care of their own work responsibilities and their personal wellbeing.
But, new workplace practices need new engagement
We’re not going to pretend that personalized and hybrid work arrangements are perfect. Just like any work configuration, the hybrid arrangement comes with its own pros and cons. Smaller teams might even find that it makes more sense to have everyone in the office, or to go 100% remote. These decisions have to be made on a case-by-case basis, with adjustments made every so often to ensure that everyone’s needs are being accounted for.
A major downside to hybrid arrangements is that it fragments the work experience, making it hard to create the sense of unity and bonding that workers in larger organizations or school children have from going through the same challenges. Beyond just having watered down versions of get-togethers and team bonding activities online, virtual coaching has been empirically proven to increase employee engagement by creating a more inclusive environment that also focuses on the individual growth journeys of every employee.
Employees mentored under CoachHub report a 96% engagement rate, compared to the global average of 39%.
Apart from encouraging employees to engage and be more proactive, coaching programs also equip leaders with the tools to make work more fulfilling and enjoyable for their coworkers. This means checking in frequently and being invested in their lives, both professional and personal. That way, employers can synchronize business needs with work delegation, creating an environment that satisfies all parties.
Maintaining employee connection in the digital era
The ‘Great Resignation’ may bring much uncertainty, but it also brings great opportunity. Employers who understand the root cause of employee dissatisfaction can snag and retain the best employees by offering them the work experience they’ve been looking for.
Gain more insights into the employee psyche and business transformation in the hybrid era with our on demand webinar: Thriving from the Great Resignation to the Great Re-Engagement.