It started with the Great Resignation, shifted into the Great Reshuffle and now it is shaping up to be the Great Regret.
One thing that is clear from this ever-changing picture is that the workforce is more restless than it has ever been. But is this employee upheaval a symptom of something bigger? And if so, how do organizations turn this into an opportunity for improvement?
The pandemic was a time of uncertainty for all. The harmony of the working world was disrupted, and companies had to adapt swiftly in order to stay afloat – and so did their people. Now, as we emerge on the other side of COVID-19, the switch from office to remote work was not the only change that lingered.
This strange and unsettling time also saw the birth of a ‘carpe diem’ complex. People lost so much time because of lockdown that, upon re-entering society, they did not want to feel they were wasting any more, and this created mayhem in many workplaces.
Put simply, an employee with a post-pandemic ‘seize the day’ mindset has no desire to stay in a job that they do not enjoy. This was clearly demonstrated by the Pew Research Centre who discovered that the top three reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year were low pay (63%), a lack of opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected (57%).
This is where the ‘something bigger’ comes into play: the mindset of the workforce is changing.
People want more, they want better, and they are now motivated seek it out. The Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle had been bubbling under the surface for a long time – the pandemic simply acted as the catalyst to bring this to the boil.
Recognizing why staff are resigning and reshuffling will allow organizations to take control of this issue and flip it into an opportunity. So, what can leaders do to respond to this change?
Research(1) has shown that employees will stay in their jobs if they can find meaning and reward in what they do, with six ‘stay factors’ reducing employee turnover:
- Exciting, challenging, or meaningful work
- Supportive management
- Being recognized and valued
- Opportunities for personal and career development
- Flexible working environment
- Fair pay
At a time of economic uncertainty and pressure, it is worth noting that five out of six of these factors can be enhanced for employees at no or low cost to the organization.
Rather, by supporting and encouraging front-line leaders to get to know their teams better and to understand how they can help to make their jobs more meaningful, stimulating, and rewarding, the organization will be able to create a work environment that will rekindle the energy and enthusiasm of its people. That will shift Regret to Rebirth.
The world is changing, and the needs of the workforce are changing too. In order to successfully retain talent, leaders need to be willing to shake things up.
(1) Ann, K., Hidi, S. (2019) Supporting the development of interest in the workplace. Workforce readiness and the future of work. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, New York