Great Resignation



Great Resignation

In 2019, Texas A&M’s Anthony Klotz foresaw a “Great Resignation,” a significant number of US workers voluntarily quitting their jobs. A recent article in Inc. Magazine by Phillip Kane asserts that this prediction has come to pass in 2021, by presenting the following statistics:

Some of the elements that our client has included that may inform your efforts:

  • In May, June and July of 2021, 11.5 million US workers quit their jobs.
  • One survey of over 30,000 workers found that 41 percent are considering quitting (54 percent for of Gen-Z).
  • A Gallop poll found that 48 percent are now actively searching for a new opportunity.
  • A third survey counted 38 percent are planning to change positions in the next 6 months.

We saw these numbers before, some as high as 70% employed-and-wanting-to-jump, during the Great Recession of 2008-10, but at that time there was pent-up desire to move to advance careers but waiting to leap until the risk of being last-in-first-out dissipated. The reasons for this turnover are different now. While the thought of 38%-48% of your workforce actively looking to leave is a scary proposition for any business or institution, there are opportunities here to make changes that will both retain existing valued staff and attract talented workers as they exit your competitors’ shops. Looking to why workers are resigning offers clues to what changes may be needed in your own house:

  • Current Work Situation: Inc. Magazine quotes a survey by LinkedIn that 74% found that working from home inspired them to rethink the traditional work paradigm. Opportunity: Provide flexibility for work sites.
  • Stress and Burnout: We are all experiencing stress about how the pandemic is affecting our businesses and our own health, and in many cases, the health and education of our (unvaccinated) children. Work conditions are much harder and burnout is a growing concern. Over 50 percent identified this as a factor to looking elsewhere. Opportunity: Publicly acknowledge that everyone at the company is feeling stress and burnout, and identify ways to address these.
  • Cost Cutting Measures: The arbitrariness and lack of transparency of these actions have caused both fear and dissatisfaction, especially how the pain is shared between high and poor performers, and between management and staff. Opportunity: Carefully present why such actions are being taken, who is being affected, and how past performance is being recognized in these actions.
  • Two-Income Household Economics: The additional day care costs during school closures or trying to work and oversee at-home on-line schooling devalues that second paycheck, especially as these situations keep changing during infection peaks and valleys. Opportunity: Consider programs that offer flexibility for households with young children, and encourage parents to stay on a career path that will offer both financial and professional rewards soon enough so their weekly paycheck is no longer being signed over to their daycare provider. Resume training programs that lapsed during the pandemic to emphasize career development.
  • Safety: Many of those who were sent home and/or chose to work from home voiced a concern that their management seemed suspicious that they were not really putting in a full day’s work. This led to feeling untrusted, micromanaged, and receiving more oversight than when they were just two cubicles down from the boss. Opportunity: Establish a culture that focuses on performance rather than being seen working for 8 hours, with a means of check-in between worker and supervisor that is no more frequent than would reasonably occur at the work site.
  • Current Work Situation: As long as there are virus variants, less than universal vaccination and uneven mask-wearing mandates, employees will be feeling unsafe to be at the workplace, for themselves as well as their families; this was cited by a third of those surveyed. Opportunity: Stress the importance of everyone feeling safe, and allow for different work site conditions to accommodate what each person needs, when fully mandating vaccines and mask wearing is not practical or achievable.
  • Recognition: There was a 63% correlation between workers being regularly recognized and saying they are unlikely to be looking for another job. Opportunity: Publicly and privately recognizing great performance reinforces a feeling of being valued. Many companies put these their recognition programs on hold during the pandemic, awaiting a day when awards to top workers or farewells to retirees could be done in person at legacy events. Time to rethink how we always did it.
  • Company Pride: Not unique to this moment, workers want to feel pride in their company, either how their products and services make a difference in the world, or company-sponsored community involvement makes a difference to their neighbors. Opportunity: Be clear how the company is making a difference. Many of the community outreach programs were suspended for the pandemic; find a way to reimagine these in the current environment.

Many of those local workers now considering resignations are in touch with Abel Personnel, which offers the best opportunity to our clients who have stepped up and made the changes to the conditions that are driving these talented workers from their current job.

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