The world seems to be finally moving on from the pandemic. However, the changes it has wrought will remain for a long time. One of those changes was called ‘The Great Resignation’ or ‘The Big Quit’. In this article, let’s explore the reasons for the Great Resignation and the lessons from the Big Quit for employers.
What is the Great Resignation?
A study conducted by MIT’s Sloan School of Management revealed that between April 2021 and September 2021 over 24 million people in the United States quit their jobs. The study also found that at the beginning of 2021 over 40% of the employees were thinking of quitting their jobs. Reports of en-masse worker exits also came from India’s IT industry.
According to the Harvard Business Review, resignations were found to be higher in fields that had become extremely important and were in demand during the pandemic like the healthcare and technology industries. This is because the pandemic may have led to high stress and occupational burnout in these fields.
Factors that Led to the Big Quit
The pandemic put the spotlight on stress and burnout. People in many sectors, especially healthcare and allied fields, were exceptionally over-worked. But at the same time, COVID-19 had its bright spots.
As people found creative ways to balance their personal and professional lives, it made them introspect on what truly made them happy and productive and what they wanted from their lives.
The pandemic also made way for businesses based on new, innovative ideas. Cloud kitchens, e-commerce, and upcycled products are just some successful examples of how people made the best use of their time, energy, and resources.
And finally, the pandemic made concepts like remote and hybrid work globally acceptable. Of course, each mode has had its own benefits and flaws. However, more people are working flexibly today than ever before.
How These Changes Affected Workers
Spotlight on cracks in corporate culture: As people became more conscious of their health and wellbeing, they began noticing the toxic traits in their workplace: such as unfair treatment, office politics, unequal pay, dictatorial managers, negativity or lack of morale. This increased awareness also led them to prioritize their own physical and mental health and to take decisions that align with their goals.
Shattered illusion of job security: The pandemic led to lay-offs in many industries. It shattered the illusion of job security. And when companies resumed hiring after the lockdowns, many people were reluctant to go back.
Paradigm shift: Many people started to consider starting their own business ventures since doing so promised more autonomy and freedom. The idea of using your skillset and passion to your benefit without having to compromise on either was an appealing one.
A fresh start: The paradigm shift has also encouraged people all over to consider chasing their passion projects/ inner calling and take a leap of faith. In September 2021, a survey by Amazon India revealed that over 51% of job seekers are looking for job opportunities in industries where they had very minimal or no prior experience.
How Employers Should Deal With the Big Quit
Now we come to the final part: how employers should deal with the Big Quit. Here are some suggestions.
Make employee engagement a key priority:
Employees should feel more engaged and in sync with the team members. You can use intra- and inter-team fun activities, games, team outings or friendly workplace competitions to engage them better.
Listen to their feedback:
Every month, have a townhall where you actively seek people’s inputs on what’s NOT working for them at the moment. Such meetings open up a healthy line of communication and can give you invaluable suggestions for work culture or process improvement.
Respect their personal time:
Do not take employees’ free time for granted. Several times, managers make the mistake of considering employees as being available during post-work hours just because they don’t have work deliverables or because they are working from home. If your company has official work timings, stick to them.
Introduce policies that allow employees to exercise boundaries:
You can introduce ‘No-email, No-call weekends’ that give your people a breather on their non-working days. You can also specify whether any exceptions to these policies exist (e.g., in urgent cases), and if so, how often these exceptions can be made.
Provide positive reinforcements:
Acknowledge your people’s efforts, not just verbally, but through the provision of incentives as well.
Fight favouritism or bias:
There is no room for bias in any workplace. It’s very important for employees to feel like their work is being gauged on merit, not other factors.
Have a performance improvement plan:
Performance improvement plans help employees, who may need support or guidance, to bring their performance back on track. These also provide an opportunity for employees to realise that the organisation is indeed invested in their growth.
Avoid hierarchical work structures:
Adding unnecessary hierarchy-based processes for approvals or benefits end up alienating some people. It also intimidates people and prevents them from expressing themselves genuinely at work.
Employees may need some guidance and supervision from time to time, but that does not mean they need to be micromanaged. Give them autonomy and let them take charge.
Design more fun activities and offsite events often:
Avoid being formal and ‘all-about-work’ at all times. A little bit of candidness and an informal approach add a lot of value to establishing a healthy rapport between the employer and the employees. Offsite events are a great way to get to know employees as people, beyond their professional persona.
Did you like the above article? For more content on workplace wellbeing and leadership, please follow the Manah Wellness blog.