by Loralyn & Amrit
The Great Resignation is still going: some say it’s winding down whereas others say it’s not over. With statistics like 48.1% employees are currently looking to leave their current jobs (source), there’s an opportunity for employers to make changes now to stem the tide of loss. A great sense of disenchantment has existed for many years, but the Covid-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst, spawning the era of The Great Resignation. We’ve heard multiple names for The Great Resignation; some are calling it The Big Quit, The Turnover Tsunami, The Attrition Super-Cycle, The Great Reshuffling, The Great Discontent, or The Great Reassessment. Whatever label people want to put on it is almost immaterial – it’s all about the ripple effect from all those departures – that’s what really matters.
This exodus is no longer new. We’ve watched in horror or delight (depends which side of the employer / employee we’re on). And it’s been ongoing for over a year, arguably officially about eight months officially which means that the surprise and shock are over.
Beyond the Shock, How to Stop the Bleeding?
Beyond the question of what is happening and why it is happening, the bigger question is, how do we stop the bleeding? How do we stop the workers from either moving out of the organization in search of greener pastures or how do we stop them from getting demotivated and infecting your corporate culture and morale with their malaise?
It’s the era of reckoning; the pandemic epiphany. Many of us have been forced (or finally had the time) to reconsider our career choices, our current situations, and just about every decision that we’ve ever made in the past. We are re-prioritizing our career paths along with how and what we spend our time on, not to mention where we spend it. Many of us have fled the city and moved into the suburbs or smaller cities and towns. Doing so, at least in some cases, has drastically reduced the cost of living and consequently minimized our dependence on that high salary and need to stay at the job even if it doesn’t align with our purpose or offers little to no satisfaction. Nonetheless, a big portion of us – 65.8%, are still looking for better options outside of our current organizations where there now appears to be a plethora of opportunities with greater pay scales and meaningful career growth.
The Work-From-Home Culture and Its Effect
The work-from-home (WFH) culture has also contributed to this trend. In some cases, we’ve seen that WFH creates the opportunity to dupe two employers into thinking that their new employee is working exclusively for them. On the flip side, tattleware is booming as a new industry keeping track of who’s doing what and when by tracking keystrokes and randomly taking screenshots. It’s a brave new world out there! Want to work for two organizations at the same time? Or simply switch? It is just a matter of logging into another Slack account or getting a new email ID from the new company. There is no need to move houses. No logistical hurdles – neither for the new company nor for the employee making the switch.
4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021, and approximately that number quit again in September, October, and November. Many employees have left their jobs because they came to enjoy WFH and were displeased with their employer’s mandates about RTO (Returning to the Office) which often included vaccination, something that many people are uncomfortable with. Businesses have shut down and schools have closed (and opened, and closed, and opened), and this has given many people the chance to spend more time with their families; suddenly giving rise to the realization that they have been spending to much of of their lives away from their loved ones.
It isn’t always about options for better pay scales. This Gallup report says that many employees are leaving because they feel disengaged – they’re no longer aligned with where their boss, department, or organization is going and they’ve come to feel isolated rather than feel like an integral part of the team. Disengagement can manifest in the form of not being assigned the right jobs, lots of negative distractions in the workplace, no excitement, a slow pace of progress, general disenchantment, or a lack of interest. The report cites its State of the Global Workplace 2021 finding that employee engagement rate is very low at 20-34% in the US and Canada.
Healthcare Industry Struggle During the Pandemic
The pandemic has also put a great strain on the healthcare industry. Since this ugly virus appeared, one in five healthcare workers has left their job; enrollment in nursing was already dropping pre-pandemic and the average age of a nurse is 53, so many simply accelerated their retirement timelines. The emotional burden has proven to be too much for many healthcare workers who have described themselves as emotionally exhausted and experiencing a level of compassion fatigue so great that they, “just don’t care anymore.” Some have openly expressed their frustration with patients who have declined vaccination only to infect the nurse or other healthcare worker who was taking precautions to protect themselves and their family. There’s a heightened level of hostility, frustration, and burnout in hospitals and clinics around the world today, particularly in the USA.
Education Sector Takes a Hit With Half a Million Teachers Quitting
Aside from the people in the Silicon Valley (who are often known to have more alternative opportunities), another important segment that is going through an employment flux is the education sector. Teachers are leaving their jobs in droves: half a million teachers in the USA quit last year. Schools have been shut down for months on end and there has been very little in-person teaching which most of the teachers enjoy. Teaching via video conferencing can be quite tiring and demotivating for many teachers. Many schools have been cutting on their staffs because the students are not coming and teachers are searching for new job opportunities while they still have their teaching jobs, which, they fear, they won’t have for long. A Rand survey has revealed that one quarter of teachers have shown a desire to leave their jobs by the end of the current school year – not to mention the dislocation and disconnect that teachers coming in/out and being replaced by substitute teachers or pre-recorded lectures is having on the student population. For many students, that teacher or professor is their lifeline away from abuse or poor conditions at home like a lack of food, and, in some cases, homelessness where students are living in vehicles or shelters.
Extensive research is discovering that it’s not about a particular industry or the job role. It’s a workplace-related problem. This disconnect with the workplace previously surfaced despite nice facilities and amenities that employers have given their employees. Yes, some work environments are more incredible versus others with their employee fitness and lactation rooms, espresso bars, nap chambers, and so on, but that doesn’t really matter anymore. People don’t even want to come IN to the office! The old methods of keeping employees engaged with socializing after work doing activities like eating out, holiday parties, health & lifestyle benefits, and entertainment perks like box seats to whatever sport are no longer enough. Employees want mental health support, greater flexibility, clear career advancement paths, and professional development to get there.
That’s what we provide at STEERus.
There is a bright side here – it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Many businesses are realizing that they need to “reset”. We’re taking things one step further – we believe that The Great Resignation must be followed by The Great Reboot. Change everything. Start fresh. Delete what no longer serves us. Clear the cache. Remove the cookies. All of that … we have The Great Reboot program which focuses on three pillars:
- Talent Agility (enabling people to move up, across, down, and out as it makes sense to do so);
- Corporate Culture (culture is everything, is there micro-aggression? Empathy? Resilience? Professionalism?);
- Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (it’s more than checking a box, it’s about supporting and enabling ongoing efforts).
The pandemic and the great surge of resignations that it set off should be taken as an opportunity to Reboot. It’s time to create a fresh instance of your corporate culture and to nurture a workplace that doesn’t distance people – instead, it connects them. Remote work shouldn’t be equated with disconnected from it. This is what STEERus focuses on for employers who want a solution that bridges inter-generational gaps Gen Z to Boomers and straddles that learning experience so that both sides upskill together. We see soft skills as the path to better relationships, deeper engagement, stronger recruitment potential, improved morale and corporate culture which fosters retention and higher productivity.
How do you future-proof your retention strategy? How do you stop the bleeding?
Book a consultation and demo with us to learn more about The Great Reboot program by STEERus.