Updated: Sep 7
Employers and employees alike are talking about this thing called "The Great Resignation". What is this movement? Well, it was coined by university professor, Anthony Klotz, and since, has spread through social media, taking on a slightly different angle. Klotz’s premise is basically this: when there is uncertainty, people tend to hunker down and remain right where they are, sticking with the familiar and secure. It’s that feeling of being safe amidst upheaval and confusion. The pandemic sent all of us spinning in and out of control. We had to react, change, and adapt and then do it again… and again. Just holding onto “my job” less than a year ago felt essential. For employers, holding onto their companies overshadowed everything. But today, a whole new attitude is upon the workforce: that of “its time to look for opportunities”.
As the world opens up, organizations are moving forward feeling like they are on more solid ground. They are trying to set a course for a new type of work environment. There is promise and potential in the air. Unfortunately, the second half of The Great Resignation premise is that when uncertainty eases off, there will come a mass exodus of employees leaving to find better job situations elsewhere (the greener pasture syndrome). This is even being encouraged on various social media sites in an attempt to turn this into one big wave of resignations. Aka “the movement”.
Think of a teeter totter. At one end is uncertainty - holding onto what is known and safe. At the other end is the promise for much better job opportunities. The pandemic created extreme reactions and the uncertainty seat hit the floor! If you believe The Great Resignation is happening to your business, then the other end (mass exodus) will soon hit the floor.
This movement is p[primarily being fueled by employees feeling unsettled in their jobs. It is a reaction to the treatment employees have received at work during the past 18 months. How did you treat your employees when times were tough? Did you heap on more tasks and duties? Did you consider their concerns?
Consider a re-balancing act instead
Rather than a wave of great resignations, consider what we are facing as a re-balancing act. Both employers and employees are re-examining their needs, priorities and searching for more meaningful work. There were signs of this occurring prior to the pandemic, but then it took a detour. Now it is coming at us stronger and at a much faster clip. Employees will make decisions based on what's in the best interest for them and their family whereas employers will focus on what is in the best interest of their company. The teeter totter will waiver somewhere in between that balancing point as both employer and employee recalibrate what is most important.
Employees - if you are looking to quit your job based on the belief that there are plenty of opportunities out there, consider the risks. Do you have enough cash or savings for your family to live on while you search for that “better job”? Although it seems like every employer is desperately looking for bodies for open positions, this doesn’t mean the offer is going to be a right fit for you. It may take months to find that fit with a company that you align with in values, culture, managers you can trust, and where you can excel by using your unique strengths. Recalibrating where you are at today and where you want to be tomorrow means examining what it is you truly need for you and your family before you quit.
On the other end of the teeter totter are the employers. If you are concerned about retaining your best employees to prevent that mass exodus mentality, go to the source and find out how your employees are feeling.
“Employees must love the company before customers ever will” – Simon Sinek
Do you know why your employees love working for your company? If not, ask them! There are so many reasons why employees stay. Recalibrating where you are at today and the type of culture you want your company to support going forward is essential for retaining great employees who fit with your values and can help create momentum to where the company wants to go.
Do you know what is most important?
Both employers and employees should ask themselves:
What is it that I need?
What is it that my company has to offer?
Which of the following are a must, a priority?
Which ones are not as important or can be postponed?
Pay: the need to get paid more (vs. it would be nice but it’s not a deal breaker)
Benefits: the need for more of a safety net for my family (i.e. health, life, retirement vs. Friday pizza lunches and pool table benefits)
Relationship with my managers: the need for leaders who “get it” and treat others with respect, genuinely care about the individual
Learning and development: the need for a company to support individual professional development and encourage learning and advancement
Leadership: There are opportunities to lead, appreciate being encouraged to try out new projects and teams
Contributing, collaborating and feeling heard: Working at a place where others appreciate my thoughts and ideas
Childcare: The need for flexibility in scheduling to care for my family
Remote work/hybrid work/office: What is essential? Can individuals adapt?
And the list goes on, so continue to add to it in order to do this exercise.
Employees - once you have identified what is most important, then it is your responsibility to dig deep and ask questions, uncovering whether or not a job opportunity aligns with your criteria. You may find out that your best opportunity is to stay right where you are.
Employers - it is your responsibility to take to heart WHY your employees stay and then build and improve on those unique combinations to attract more right fits and less voluntary turnover.
This Great Resignation movement will only create a pool of warm bodies moving around into urgent job slots, never really finding right people for right positions. Now, more than ever, it is time to re-balance the work environment so that both employees and employers find their right fit.
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