The Great Resignation: What Is Driving Workers Out of Their Roles?

Prior to the economic shutdown, employers were experiencing high rates of turnover triggered by the pandemic. However, since that time, quit rates had reached their lowest levels in 9 years. SHRM stated that more than half of the employees surveyed in North America plan to look for a new role in 2021. Since that time, this has been called ‘The Great Resignation.’ 

What Prompted ‘The Great Resignation’? 

During the height of the pandemic, many employees- most already unhappy with their roles and employers- decided to wait patiently wait for the tides to turn. The tides have now shifted, and workers are leaving their jobs in droves. This multiplied with remote workers who become even further disengaged during the pandemic, which has led to an estimated 50 percent turnover in the workforce. 

Many believe that unresponsive managers and the failure to develop relationships with a remote workforce are driving remote workers out of their roles. 

Disengagement and burnout are not the only reasons workers are leaving. Others have cited career-oriented factors that are contributing to their unhappiness and dissatisfaction as well, such as wanting a promotion, raise, better compensation, or better benefits. 

High turnover rates are indicating the talent issues that these organizations are disguising. If employees are feeling disengaged, then they are not aligned with the company’s mission, vision, or values. It could also mean that there is a misalignment between the employee and the organization’s culture. Organizational culture makes up a lot of what job seekers are looking for- to be supported, valued, have the opportunity for professional growth and for advancement- even while working remotely. High turnover rates demonstrate that organizations need to re-think how to incorporate their remote workers into their culture by employing and utilizing retention programs and innovative other ideas. 

Job-Seeker Market vs. An Employer One

You may have heard others say that it is a job-seeker market and that is true. The job-seeker market is a driving force for The Great Resignation. Turnover remains on the rise as the labor market continues to tighten. This means that workers are voluntarily leaving jobs for better opportunities. However, when this occurs it also means that employers need to be filling more roles. It also requires becoming more proactive about their recruiting and hiring efforts to keep up with filling these roles. 

This also creates competition in the market; however, it is not the same type of competition that we have become accustomed to in recent years. In recent years we were accustomed to multiple candidates vying for positions due to a limited availability. Currently, there is not enough candidates to fill roles that are opening because we have a surplus of jobs open and not enough candidates to fill them. This provides candidates more flexibility in their selection of a new role. The increasing number of quits indicates a rising level of power and choice that resides on the side of the candidate, not the employer. This means that candidates are being choosier in their new roles, seeking the working conditions, salary, benefits, and perks that have been longing for. 

In addition, Data from BLS has shown that compensation is steadily increasing. In the past year, wages have increased by 1.5 percent for the last five years. This puts pressure on employers to increase their wages and salaries to be competitive for the best talent. Wages have remained static and there are more openings than candidates to fill them. Due to this, talent acquisition professionals must begin to act and create a corresponding hiring strategy. 

What Can Employers Do? 

We are now amid this storm so employers must continue to learn how to weather it. Here’s a few things that employers can and should be doing: 

  • Listen to and address and employees’ concerns and find solutions: One complaint I oftentimes hear from clients is that their employers have stopped listening to and caring about their needs. There has been no greater time to continue to listen to and empathize with your employees than during the last year. The pandemic did not just wreak havoc on businesses and workplaces. It also wreaked havoc on families and how we dealt with everyday issues. Unfortunately, many seem to forget that we are people before we are employees, and we need to treat each other with dignity and respect. 
  • Ensure job descriptions are realistic: Workers should have a promising idea of what is expected of them. It creates frustration and chaos when they have no idea what the expectation is or how to achieve it. The job description needs to match their expectations. In this way, if it does not it will be easier to know if it is not a good fit, which will help to keep turnover down amongst new hires. However, what tends to happen is that once a new hire experience what is perceived as the downside of a job, they quit. The solution is to expose candidates to the worst parts of a role so that they will know what they will be doing before they accept a job offer. 
  • Create and establish strong onboarding, mentoring, and advancement opportunities: I oftentimes hear from workers who state that they have had poor onboarding experiences, little to no onboarding support, or are bored in their roles and have hit the ceiling regarding growth and advancement opportunities, so they begin an external job search. If they are provided the support, growth, and opportunities necessary then it is likely that turnover would decrease. 
  • Provide accommodations: Does one of your most loyal and dedicated employees need some extended PTO to help deal with young children at home or aging parents? Then a one-size fits all-approach may not work very well. If you can provide some accommodations, you are likely to build even more trust and loyalty that would not have been earned otherwise. 
  • Communicate & be accessible: The truth is that if you are not communicating frequently with your employees you are contributing to a high turnover rate. Find out if they are unhappy and if so, why. Make yourself accessible regularly to mitigate any potential issues before it can lead to an exodus. 
  • Keep Top Performers Engaged: This goes together with providing mentoring and advancement opportunities. Top performers need to feel valued and excited about their career growth. However, it is also important to have a strategy to be sure that they are not overworking and burning out. 
  • Recognize Employees: No one likes not being recognized for their work and feeling like they are not valued. Managers must know how to provide proper recognition to keep employees engaged. 
  • Incorporate “stay” interviews instead of exit interviews: You do not want to wait to find out why your employees are leaving. If you employ the same type of strategy throughout the duration of employment, you can find out how to make improvements before an exodus occurs. This will help organizations assess their turnover risk on a regular basis. Also, consider a smart strategy, such as utilizing third parties, because employees may not feel comfortable or trust their manager with such information. It will also help reveal more authentic information and help employees be more honest in their responses. 

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