• We’ve all probably heard word of The Great Resignation at this point, but the causes of it — burnout, new life goals, better work-life balance – are less known.
  • Learn how you can turn the Great Resignation into the Great Attraction by listening and adjusting in this time of major change. 

The year 2021 was another year of unexpected events, one of which has been deemed the “Great Resignation.” This is the term used for the phenomenon of more than 25 million employees leaving their jobs in 2021. In addition to losing employees, one of the main issues many companies faced (and continue to face) was not knowing exactly why employees were leaving.The past two years have been incredibly humbling and human experiences, and that is what more people want out of work: a recognition of their human needs. Many people are grieving, and others are burnt out. Many miss connecting with their coworkers and crave a sense of community. Others are experiencing a combination of all these.

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In this blog we dig deep into the Great Resignation to help you gain a deeper understanding of the factors that have contributed to this event and how—with a good amount of empathy—it might not be as bad as we think. 

What Is the Great Resignation? 

The Great Resignation is best illustrated by the events of September 2021, when the quit rate increased to over three percent—the highest it had ever been in the 20 years since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the information.

In April of 2020, the quit rate was low, even compared to the two months prior. As the pandemic, lockdowns, and remote work continued, the quit rate increased as people began to rethink their careers, work conditions, and long-term goals.

For instance, as many companies began to go back to in-person work, some employees desired permanent remote work and the flexibility that comes with it. In particular, workers from younger generations wanted a better work-life balance.

Clearly, with such a major disruption to our everyday lives, many workers have reassessed and reprioritized their needs. So, what do companies and HR departments need to keep an eye out for?

Remain Flexible as the Great Resignation Shifts

As the pandemic enters new stages, the Great Resignation is also likely to enter new stages.

According to a research study conducted by McKinsey & Company, there are three primary drivers that employers need to consider as they face this period of change:

1. Employees are willing to quit without a job lined up.

In the study, 40 percent of respondents reported quitting their jobs without another one lined up. Others reported that they would quit their jobs without a job lined up. In November 2021, quit levels surged to 4.5 million

2. Job options are expanding.

According to the same study, 90 percent of the respondents who took new jobs from companies located in a different city did not have to relocate. This is part of the trend of “location-agnostic” work, meaning a company does not require all employees to work from the same location.

3. Employee values aren’t fully understood.

Finally, employees reported that feeling undervalued by their managers and experiencing a lack of belonging were the primary factors that made them quit. However, according to the study, employers did not include these factors in their understanding of why employees were leaving. 

What does all of this mean?

Although every person has different reasons for leaving their job, there are three things that HR departments can take away from this study:

  • Some employees would sacrifice income to take time and figure out what they want to do.
  • Being “location-agnostic” (even partially) is attractive to employees. 
  • The things employers think are most valuable to employees are not aligned with reality. 

The Great Resignation makes it clear that the ball is in the employees’ court. To keep employees, it’s time to listen and adjust where you can. 

Hope in the Great Resignation of 2021

Although this phenomenon has been coined the Great Resignation, there is still a chance for you to be part of the Great Attraction. This means listening to your employees and reshaping some aspects of your work environments around employee needs.

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