A ‘trend’ called the Great Resignation has been happening across the US for the past six or more months, with millions of people voluntarily leaving their jobs post-lockdown in the search for a better work life balance and more fulfilling careers.
It’s predicted to hit here in Australia in March 2022, with three in five Australians looking to change jobs. Behavioural scientist Aaron McEwan from global research and advisory firm Gartner, is warning employers about the Great Resignation – and encouraging them to think about ways to prevent it.
So, what exactly does this all mean and why is it happening?
Covid has rewritten the psychological contract between employers and employees, and the relationship people have with their careers.
After establishing a new way of working over the past two years and a long stint working from home for many of us – it has prompted the need for change and variety. With the lines consistently blurred between home and work thanks to smart technology and always being ‘connected’, Zoom fatigue and lack of recognition from leaders and employers– as we come out of lockdown, people are now reinvesting in and prioritising their mental and physical health – and they don’t want to be forced back into the office full time.
During the pandemic, many people had their world condensed down to immediate family, their local area and their home, providing an opportunity to reflect on what’s really important.
More people are now wanting flexibility, a reasonable workload, recognition and enrichment of life experiences. People are less focused on chasing high salaries and a nice corner office – but are preferencing workplaces that are promoting autonomy and wellbeing. For example, employers that encourage parents to pick up their children from school, allow people to meet with a friend for brunch and work later instead, offer 9-day fortnights or 4-day weeks so that employees have more time on the weekends doing what they love – human connection and freedom is what people are craving.
According to a reporter by Recruiter Randstad UK in 2021, 69% of employees are confident they will secure a job with another employer, so if their jobs aren’t satisfying their needs, they will search for it elsewhere.
“Studies have found that when leaders prioritize the creation of a positive emotional culture, teams are more likely to have better performance, provide better customer service, be more innovative and people are less likely to burn out or quit,” explained Dr. Paige Williams of The Leaders Lab.
Re-aligning the workforce and striving to address this new hybrid way of working – instead of forcing employees back to the ‘way it was before’ is one possible way of reducing the need for people to resign from their roles.
Microsoft has labelled the same trend the Great Disruption, focusing instead on evolving their now hybrid work strategy to ensure they remain flexible to the needs of their employees, using the pandemic to rebuild their organisational culture from the inside out.
Other strategies being explored by various organisations include “Wellbeing weeks”, where employees are encouraged to take time off to ‘recharge’ and ensure burnout culture is reduced.
Some organisations are using apps and smart technology, or even hiring technology consultants, to record how employees are feeling monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly!
Ultimately, people are looking to reshape their careers and enrich their lives – so anything that employers can do to assist this will help reduce the Great Resignation, and instead make it about the Great Realignment for both organisations and its employees.
Workplace wellbeing does not need to be complex. Simple strategies can enhance workplace culture, wellbeing and performance.