The Great Resignation:
How Employers Can Keep Their Top Talent
The Great Depression, The Great Recession, and now… The Great Resignation. Regardless of whether or not you work in HR, you have likely heard this term in recent months. The Great Resignation is an idea coined by Texas A&M professor Anthony Klotz that predicts a large number of people leaving their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics November “quits rates” breaking all previous records at 4.53 million, this trend certainly seems to be taking a foothold.
While US rates are astounding, the trend is not confined to the American workforce. Global data supports the expansion of the dwindling workforce throughout much of the developed world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that there are approximately 20 million fewer people in the workforce than before the pandemic and that, “Of these, 14 million have exited the labor market and are classified as ‘not working’ and ‘not looking for work.’”
When the pandemic is truly in the rear-view mirror, economists will have more substantial data with which to draw pointed conclusions. Until then, most of us are left to speculate and pivot our business models to protect our greatest assets – our employees.
So Why Are Employees Quitting?
They’re burned out and want better working conditions, more respect, and a sense of purpose for the work they’re doing. “Of workers who recently quit, 42.8% say a raise alone would have convinced them to stay, and 31.6% say a four-day workweek would have hit the spot.” While many businesses tell us they can’t afford a pay increase or additional benefits, having experienced a drop in profitability as a result of the pandemic, countless employees tell us, during exit interviews, that had their employer explained this to them, they would have been understanding and willing to hold out a little longer. To hear nothing and go another year without any feedback; however, is a dealbreaker, making them question the company’s commitment to employees and whether or not it’s worth staying.
So What Can Employers Do?
- Adapt. This is a monumental shift, and the workforce is shouting loud and clear. Gone are the days when the company should expect you to give your life to your work. Employers need to create cultures whereby people are allowed to be human (go to doctors’ appointments, meet with their contractors, attend their kid’s school play, etc.) without retribution or having to make up the time. If you want 24/7 client service, staff accordingly. Do not expect the current employee base to absorb it.
- Embrace the hybrid model by allowing for employee flexibility while keeping the workforce connected. Not every employee wants 100% remote, and some don’t want any. Regardless, there will likely be teams going forward that have a combination of remote, hybrid, and in-office employees—train managers on how to maintain connectivity and cohesion within this new landscape.
- Actively focus on employee recruitment and retention. Your business is likely to experience attrition in this market no matter what. Be proactive versus reactive. Start networking with talent in your sector. Retain employees by offering pathways to develop their careers internally, so they are not forced to get better experience or pay outside the company. Treat your employees like they are being recruited. Small perks like food or gift cards can go a long way in making people feel appreciated.
These are uncharted waters and a difficult time to operate a business. EnformHR is here to support you during this reset.