A review of national phenomenon, termed “The Great Resignation,” may shed some light on the availability of our workforce in the post-Covid era. Ironically, this term, was first coined in 2019. A Texas A&M Professor, Anthony Klotz, predicted a mass, voluntary exodus from the workforce.
At that time, our economy was going strong; yet, resignations were notably on the rise. There was a brief reversal in the trend during the pandemic that is speculatively due to the uncertainty of future job opportunities and stability of the economy. However, resignations peaked in April 2021. Likewise, according to recent findings by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of those individuals who left their job voluntarily (referred to as “Quits”) increased in August 2021 to 4.3 million (+242,000). The highest number of “Quits” increased in accommodation and food services, wholesale trade, and state and local government education.
Furthermore, a September 2021 survey by ResumeBuilder.com indicates that 1 in 7 workers surveyed, said they plan to quit their jobs before the start of 2022.
Many factors contribute to workers quitting their jobs, but below are some I find particularly interesting:
• Quest for New Adventures
When job satisfaction is low, workers tend to seek what appears to be “greener pastures”, i.e., more pay, better benefits, new growth opportunities, etc. This is particularly prevalent in the computer and technology industries where workers seek opportunities to be a part of cutting-edge innovations, etc.
• Value Shifts
Remote work opportunities that peeked in the pandemic afforded workers the ability to live anywhere and structure their days that best aligned with their passions, flexibility for family activities, and more. However, many employers are now calling workers back to the office. Concerns over a lack of ability to quantify work out-put for remote workers seems to be a top motivation for employers to require a return to the office.
How Employers Can Respond
Below are some forward-thinking employer actions to hold on to valuable staff recommended by Professor Klotz:
• Give Employees a License to Explore
One option for an employer when an employee resigns is to hold the position in their system (accrued benefits, etc.) as if the employee is on a leave of absence for one year. Then, after a period has passed with them at the new job (once their honeymoon stage is over), the employer can reach out to the former employee to let them know they are still valued in the organization.
It’s brilliant company branding to say, “We miss you; we hope you’re doing well in your new role.” And, according to Klotz, “It’s a shift in thinking from ‘a person who leaves us is disloyal’ to ‘a person who’s leaving is exploring something else.’ It doesn’t mean anything about who they are; we’re all trying to create a good life for ourselves.”
• Re-Think the Need to Return to the Office
Klotz recommends employers carefully explore creative ways of quantifying work productivity and quality for remote workers. Pre-pandemic performance management systems may not be the right tools moving forward. Talk to employees about the challenges they face coming to the office. Find out what can work.
As a disclaimer, this article is not intended to downplay the tremendous workforce challenges our local business face, nor do I introduce this data as trite fixes to a complex problem. My intent is to introduce some new ideas for employers to consider, understanding these will not be feasible for all business.
Please reach out if you have questions or comments on this issue and other policies impacting the business community.