Updated on 7/29/2022
If you manage people, you’ve probably experienced it: workers are switching jobs in unprecedented numbers. In fact, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs every month. Resignations began rising in April 2021 and have remained unusually high since then.
It is known as the “Great Resignation.” Some liken the situation to a natural disaster striking without warning.
Although the pandemic is not fully responsible, the Great Resignation started to be noticed in spring 2021. Many had held on to jobs out of necessity during the confinements of 2020. As the pandemic dragged on, many re-assessed their life. The job market started to unfreeze in Spring 2021. At that point, the flood gates opened and resignations came in droves.
Let’s examine some of the causes of the Great Resignation and offer a few suggestions to address them.
Employee Burnout Cause Of Great Resignation
Burnout is a long-term reaction to stress. It comes with mental, emotional, and physical side effects. While 42% of employees were already experiencing burnout before the pandemic, the number skyrocketed to 72% a few months into lockdown due to increased anxiety, heavier workloads, and too many Zoom meetings. People were not fully unplugging at the end of the work day and many took less time off as recreation options had all but disappeared.
Organizations that do not acknowledge burnout are seeing their workers quit in droves. Workers want to work in places that care about their well-being. Those who are staying are growing more disengaged.
Some organizations have introduced more mental health days. It’s helpful but only a temporary fix to a deeper problem. If you think your organization has a burnout issue, it’s time to re-examine the culture of your organization.
If you’re worried burnout might be an issue, here’s what you can do:
- Check in with employees throughout the organization. With open questions, an open mind and an open heart, try to understand how they’re feeling about work and the organization. I am a big fan of regular check-in conversations to review work progress and connect one-on-one with all your direct reports. If this is not part of your managerial practice, consider introducing it. Contact me for tips on how to get started.
- Tell your best employees how much their work is appreciated and how valuable they are to your organization. Schedule regular stay conversations with the key players.
Lack of Flexibility Another Cause For The Great Resignation
“Flexibility is the new currency of employment,” according to leadership expert Steve Dion. Is your organization trying to go back to its old self (pre-March 2020)? What adjustments can you make to allow more flexibility? By the way, flexibility means something different for each employee. Do you know what each contributor needs?
When the pandemic sent work home, many realized how powerful it was to decide where, how, and when they worked. Two years later, many employees continue to demand flexibility from their jobs. However, leaders are uncomfortable making the shift from working remotely as a necessity to working hybrid permanently. They expect workers to gladly return to the office. Those leaders probably equate workforce productivity with surveillance and control.
But this will result in more employee turnover. More than half of employed workers are considering leaving their job if they’re not afforded flexibility in where and when they work.
If you are willing to consider more flexibility in your organization, ask employees what they need and how they want to organize their work life. Consider the following ideas:
- Allow flexible working hours or working days.
- Create a hybrid workplace where employees are able to work remotely once a week or upon request.
Manager Not Equipped to Address The Root Causes of The Great Resignation
You have heard the adage “You join a company and leave a manager.”
Managers have the most influence on an employee’s job satisfaction, wellbeing, and likelihood to stay at a company. But being a manager isn’t intuitive. It requires an entirely different set of skills from that of an individual contributor.
Are your supervisors getting the support they need to be successful? Many feel that they’ve been asked to take on new responsibilities during the pandemic without being given additional resources or guidance. And the numbers show it. Turnover rate for supervisors increased by nearly 12% over the previous year.
To level up your support to supervisors, offer a personalized learning experience for your managers. Managers require different skill sets depending on their level, direct reports, and previous experience. An ideal training program is personalized to a manager’s specific needs, rather than one-size-fits-all. Here is a list of topics that managers need to master:
- How to give more candid, caring feedback and performance reviews
- How to appropriately recognize and celebrate your team
- How to align coaching styles to employee work style and experience levels
- How to create an employee experience that retains workers
- How to have tough conversations that foster personal growth and change
As always, crises present a chance for transformation. The Great Resignation is no different. It’s an opportunity to re-consider your employee experience, focus on retention and commit to developing supervisors that make the “daily grind” work for employees.