The Great Resignation is a Good Reason to Reimagine the Workplace
Updated: May 8
This is something no one saw coming, but about two years into the global pandemic of 2020, a new phenomenon arose. Around the world, employees at every level, in companies large and small, started quitting their jobs. And this became known as the “Great Resignation,” a term that is said to have been coined by a professor of business administration at Texas A&M University, Anthony Klotz.
Statistics that shocked the world show a record 4.5 million workers in the US quit their jobs in March of 2022, giving rise to 11.55 million job openings for the month. (Source) This trend was seen in varying degrees in countries around the world, opening the doors to a conversation that has been swept under the rug for too long - work-life balance.
Like all trends, the “Great Resignation” has dissipated, but only after we saw some definitive change in the workplace. The workplaces are reimagined to have the ability to serve the very employees that make a company successful.
Why were Employees Quitting?
Let’s look at some of the reasons employees have been finding the need to leave their current jobs and relook at their life and work:
The most straightforward reason was the availability of more job opportunities after the pandemic. As businesses came back to normal operations, they were hiring at higher levels with more job openings to choose from, and employees were ready to make that switch.
With remote working, people were not bound by expensive cities and long commutes anymore. Employees can dream of spending time with their loved ones or following a new passion while still getting a stable salary working from home. This new normal way of life shows no signs of leaving.
According to a Pew Research survey, low pay, lack of opportunities, and disrespect were some of the most cited reasons for quitting. In the pre-pandemic era, people with family responsibilities could not make a job switch without personal consequences. But the time to ponder and develop new skills has given workers the courage to risk pursuing a different path.
Five Ways Companies Can Reimagine the Workplace
There is no industry that hasn’t felt some effects of the pandemic. And the chaos caused by mass resignation is a time to create much-needed changes in how your business is run. All companies would do well to relook at the following aspects of their workplace, leading to increased employee satisfaction, lower employee attrition, and in turn, more productivity and profits.
1. Most employees are simply looking for flexibility in the way they work, and while that may not be an option to consider for all industries, most corporate jobs can be realigned to hybrid and part-time conditions. The reduced hours give an employee the feeling of control over their own days, something that has been missing from corporate life, which has appropriately come to be known as the '9-5 drudgery'.
2. A real work-life balance would mean the number of hours spent with the family and those at work is in balance. But the reality of working 5 days a week and spending 2 days with the family doesn't point towards an even split! Workers are asking for a workplace culture with a greater ability to balance their family responsibilities, something everyone got a taste of during the mandatory remote working lifestyles of the pandemic.
3. All businesses, irrespective of size, need a clearly defined set of brand values. And this is a good time to relook at whether these values are genuinely reflected in the way the company shows up to all its stakeholders. In today's businesses, employees, vendors, customers, and shareholders are all looking to partner with businesses that support sustainable practices, offer safe and healthy environments for the clients and the workplace, and walk the talk behind their brand values.
4. One of the big revelations of the pandemic was the burden of caregiving responsibility on the average worker. The topic of health coming to the forefront also spotlighted the aspect of taking care of elderly parents and young children while juggling a workday and tending to one's own health. Adaptable schedules, additional compensation and considerations for employees with proven caregiving challenges, and longer parental leave are some steps in the right direction.
5. Mental health, burnout, and their effects on employees are a topic of conversation for the C-suite and boardroom. Putting measures in place for everyone to protect their emotional well-being is no longer an option but a necessity to avoid mass resignation. This includes mandatory vacation and time-off policies and, most importantly, the ease of discussing matters related to mental health with team leaders without fallout or judgment.
The great resignation is a temporary phase brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the effects of the changes it has created are now making organizations reimagine the workplace of the 21st century.