The post-pandemic job market has confused employers, to say the least. But, amidst many ups and downs, one thing has become clear in 2021: employees are quitting in droves. This phenomenon has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation.’ For a variety of reasons, employees are saying, “I quit,” and moving on to something new.
With a record number of people quitting their jobs this year, employers have been left in a lurch. Employees are leaving, and yet, there seems to be no one around to fill the job openings left behind. So, what exactly is going on with the Great Resignation?
- 4.5 million employees quit their jobs in November 2021, a trend that started in April, and is continuing into the new year – Bureau of Labor Statistics
- A record-breaking 10.9 million jobs were open at the end of July – Harvard Business Review
- In the US, there are about 1 million more job openings than people looking for work – CNBC
- 49% of employers are worried about their current ability to retain talent – Career Arc
- 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or watching for opportunities – Gallup
Why is this happening?
For each employee, their reasons for quitting can vary, and they’re specific to each person. However, there are clear trends among those who have decided that now is the time to resign. Here are a few:
- Burnout: With the healthcare industry leading the charge, employees who have been overworked are desperate to find a better balance in their life.
- Engagement: For those who have felt disengaged with their work or their colleagues before the pandemic or during the pandemic, many have realized that they’re not getting what they want out of their work. In a search for something different, they’re looking elsewhere.
- Leadership: For many who don’t get along with their direct supervisor, going through a pandemic likely exacerbated any of the challenges employees already faced. Additionally, many employees disagreed with their employer’s approach to handling the pandemic.
- Culture: Broader workplace cultural issues are also driving people to quit. Whether they need more support, more flexibility, or a healthier balance with work, many of these problems can stem from bigger issues with the company’s culture as a whole.
- Timing: For people who were unhappy throughout the pandemic, many stayed put simply for job security. As soon as the economy started to rebound, they felt safe enough to leave.
Once again, each employee may have very personal reasons for leaving. However, what became clear to professionals throughout the pandemic is that employees should be treated like humans. As people take a look at how their life has been constructed, they’ve realized that they’re not willing to compromise for the sake of their mental or physical health. Employees are simply ready to find an employer that better aligns with what they want from their life – not just their job.
What is top talent looking for, and how can employers offer it?
With the competition for talent at an all-time high, employers must have a firm grasp on the needs and demands of top talent. Plus, companies need to learn the strategies to meet those requirements. So, what do employees want?
Flexible work options
After months of working remotely, the reality is that most workplaces are not going back to a full-time physical office environment. . From the employee’s perspective, after experiencing remote work, they’ve now had a taste of a more flexible life.
Not only can employees do household tasks like laundry during the work day or save time on their commute, but some people went as far as moving to different cities or states because of the ability to work from anywhere. When a job seeker considers whether to accept a new role, many are now adamant that they should have the same flexibility in their schedule.
What to do: Take an individualized approach
Employers and employees alike understand the benefits of working from an office as well as from home. The best approach employers can take is issuing general guidelines for the organization while taking into account the needs of each individual.
Support from leadership
“How has your organization supported employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?”
This is becoming a common question job seekers are asking during the interview process, with employees feeling that their employer has not properly considered their mental and physical health throughout the pandemic. Now, job seekers are ensuring they won’t get stuck in another bad situation.
What to do: Make leadership accessible
When company leaders are accessible, either through town halls, open door policies, or other means, employees will feel as though there is a space for them to be heard. This type of accessibility promotes transparent and honest leadership while giving employees a floor to share feedback. Most importantly, however, is that leaders actually listen to that feedback.
Healthy & human culture
Company culture hasn’t always been a deal breaker for job seekers when it comes to finding the right employer. However, the external stresses of the pandemic have helped employees realize that the people they surround themselves with have a major impact on their happiness. As a result, job seekers are looking to avoid toxic workplace cultures and behaviors, opting to look for positive and collaborative environments.
What to do: Take a human approach
It’s simple, really. Rather than prioritizing productivity or revenue, prioritize ensuring that your employees are happy and healthy. When employees are happy, they’re more motivated. And when they’re healthy, they’re more productive.
This approach also includes being sure to weed out toxicity in your culture, especially in management positions. This allows employees at all levels to grow and collaborate in a positive environment.
In addition to a company culture that prioritizes humanity, employees want to ensure that a company’s culture and leadership gives everyone a voice–especially those who are underrepresented. If employers are looking to secure top talent, be sure that you offer them the tools to succeed and a platform to be heard.
What to do: Invest in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)
With many organizations making investments in DE&I, the trend is clear: companies have struggled to find ways to ensure that their policies and culture support people of all backgrounds. If employees aren’t given support or a voice, they’ll find a workplace that will offer this.