Navigating the Great Resignation

25 September 2021
4 min read
Navigating the Great Resignation article image

Wouldn’t it be ironic if a company lost half of its staff when they forced workers back into the office, only to find remote workers to replace them?

This isn’t much of a fictional story nowadays, especially for organisations that foolishly discarded years of experience and institutional knowledge just because they did not understand the employment landscape.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many employers to force their employees to work from home. Now, as some of the pandemic restrictions have eased, employees have been called back to the office. Some employers assumed that things would go back to normal and employees would be clamouring to return. These companies have been met with unexpected resignations.

It appears that employees have enjoyed the flexibility to work around their home life instead of structuring their home life around their work, and they don’t miss the daily commute.

Changing Conditions

Several factors have played into the so-called ‘Great Resignation’. While employees hung on to their jobs to ride out the pandemic, many are now looking around for better jobs. A backlog of ‘delayed’ resignations has contributed to the high rate of turnover.

Another factor is that the disruption in the daily routine has caused many workers to reassess their priorities – and many want out of their current positions. Estimates ranging from 40% to 95% of workers are considering changing jobs in the coming year.

Employees that did not feel supported during the pandemic were even more likely to leave now that there are more opportunities for movement.

More and more often, employees are less willing to commute five days a week to a central office. Some companies have been known to force workers into a local office only for those employees to spend their days teleconferencing with their teams dispersed around the world. Workers are asking, ‘What’s the point?’

Fighting Digital Exhaustion

While many employees enjoy working from home at least some of the time, this is not the end of the office. In-person collaboration is not outdated. Many employees want to come into the office for productive interactions, if not for the sake of just being around other people. This is especially true of companies that have a positive work culture. Organisations will need to optimise the time spent in the office and not just implement top-down, ‘one size fits all’ rules for sitting in a physical office.

The pandemic has shown us that many jobs can be completed from home (or really, from anywhere with a reliable internet connection), but is it sustainable? Some research has shown that workers and teams can be just as, if not more productive, working remotely, but there may be a hidden cost.

Many workers report feeling more drained by digital and hybrid interactions than by face-to-face meetings. Limiting screen time is not just the province of parents. Workers can burn out from back-to-back-to-back video conferencing meetings, especially when a phone call or email is used to get the job done.

How to Prevail?

Ultimately, organisations will need to adjust to the demands of employees while also moving the business forward. Strategic flexibility is the key here.

In this short-term game of musical chairs, some organisations are going to lose talent–especially those organisations that have a toxic work culture. But even those companies with a positive work culture will suffer if they cannot clearly demonstrate support for their workers.

The good news for the forward-looking organisation is that they can grab a greater share of the available talent if they are smart and can be flexible with their workers.

Partnering with the right talent agency can help identify the workers who can push a project forward or develop the teams that create a lasting competitive advantage.

The right partner will have their finger on the pulse of today’s workers–they know the expectations, and they know the supply and demand. This is especially important in the tech sector as workers are in high demand and may not be willing to put up with rigid ‘9 to 5’ rules.

Agencies will also help workers to identify the best opportunities. They know what the demand is for their skills and be able to find the job that is compatible with their lifestyle and responsibilities, and not just the highest hourly rate.

Furthermore, as the Delta variant causes a reassessment of the COVID risks and restrictions, organisations need to be flexible in how they get things done.

The global pandemic disrupted business as usual. In the wake of this crisis, there is the opportunity for workers and employers to redefine their relationships for the benefit of all. Don’t assume the old way is the best way or the only way, and don’t be the organisation that isn’t in on the joke.

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