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During the month of April 2021 alone, a record four million workers quit their jobs — the biggest spike in 20 years, according to the Labor Department. This is due to something called “The Great Resignation,” a term first coined by Texas A&M University’s Anthony Klotz in 2019, who predicted a mass, voluntary exit from the workforce — he wasn’t wrong.
The COVID-19 pandemic burned out millions of Americans and made many reassess their priorities and reflect on what really matters most, going back to work or their health?
According to a survey conducted by TechRepublic, 1 in 3 employees will quit if work from home ends. As U.S. vaccination numbers continue to rise, organizations are beginning to bring employees back to the workplace. Microsoft found that 41% out of 30,000 workers are considering quitting, and 54% when Gen-Z is considered alone. Surveys from Gallup and Personio found that 48% of employees are actively searching for new jobs, and 38% plan on making a change in the next six months. Out of most surveys conducted, over half of workers cite stress and burnout in their current role as a reason for searching for a new job.
So, what is the main reason workers are leaving their jobs during the pandemic? Phillip Kane, CEO and managing partner at Grace Ocean, writes in an Inc. article that “Others point to dissatisfaction, and even fear, caused by knee-jerk cost-cutting actions by their current employer in response to COVID-19-related business slowdown as a reason for bolting, with many finding fundamental unfairness in holds on promotions, frozen merit increases, and indiscriminate layoffs which impacted poor performers and stars equally, particularly as they watched executive leadership refuse to participate in the pain.”
Companies with poor organizational culture found themselves losing many employees to lack of decent treatment over the past two years. A recent study from Stanford found that many of these companies with inadequate work environments doubled down on their decisions that didn’t support their employees. The pandemic exposed many companies and their unsupportive support in the workplace, those that survived layoffs could see that their company didn’t really care for them as people.
Alison Omens, chief strategy officer of JUST Capital, the research firm that gathered most of the data for the Stanford study, said that in the wake of the pandemic “the intensity in terms of that expectation; people are expecting more from companies. The early days of the pandemic reminded us that people are not machines.” She went on to say that “If you’re worried about your kids, about your health, financial insecurity and covering your bills, and all the things that come with being human, you’re less likely to be productive. And we were all worried about those things.”
To avoid the Great Resignation in your office, it’s critical to evaluate if you’re encouraging and supporting employees properly, particularly with work-life balance. Regardless, if you’re in the office or not, employees should be given permission to fully be themselves and have a life outside of work while also excelling in their job. When their employer encourages and supports them to take time off or have mental health days, the employee won’t feel guilty about doing so. Here are three tips on how to avoid the Great Resignation in your office.
- BE SURE TO CREATE EXPLICIT WORK-LIFE BOUNDARIES
According to research from The Guardian, since the pandemic started people are logging an average of two extra hours of work per day. Employees need to realize that receiving emails and Slack messages at 10:00pm on the weekend and feeling the need to respond isn’t okay. When there are no rules in place regarding expectations for responding, this can guarantee an employee's burnout. When starting a new job, be sure to meet with your employer about policies in place that prevent emails or messages after a specific time on the weekends. Without setting these boundaries, it will cause confusion and uncertainty for the employee.
- MAKE SURE YOU GET TIME OFF
The bottom line is that time off is good for employees. Research reveals that it increases creativity and productivity. There are major corporations who are instituting week-long company-wide shutdowns to allow employees to rest and recover during the pandemic. Organizations need to be more aware and willing to help when it comes to employees' mental health and time off.
- NORMALIZE HAVING A LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK
Finery, a company based out of London, conducted a survey that found 83% of Millennials find that working overtime is normal, and almost 70% confess to regularly working on the weekends. The “Great Resignation” over the past two years is evidence that employees are shifting from a “live to work” to a “work to live” way of thinking. With vaccinations continuing to rise and companies calling employees back to the office, setting these boundaries is key.
The Great Resignation is a cultural shift and looks like it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. If you’re an employee looking for a new job, remember to not settle for a company that takes your needs into consideration and cares about you as a human rather than a robot.