The Great Resignation – Why Are People Leaving Their Jobs?

Global News and Perspectives

The Great Resignation: A workers’ movement in the post-Covid era

At first, it sounds like a bit of an oxymoron – the “great resignation”.

But. it’s really not. The great signifies the number (though the fact that people are leaving their jobs in search of something more meaningful, could also mean great in another sense of the word).

We explore it here…

Table of contents:

What is so great about the Great Resignation?

It is so widespread that it is being called a phenomenon. The Great Resignation is a name given to a record number of people who are quitting their jobs as the situation with the pandemic fluctuates. The numbers are actually staggering, particularly in the developed parts of the world. Healthcare, technology, and hospitality are some of the industries that have been the worst hit.

In April 2021 alone, 4 million people in the U.S. quit their jobs, confident that they could find better prospects. One in 20 workers in the U.K has also resigned, in the wake of lockdowns and the havoc caused by the pandemic. Interestingly, in a country that is as hardworking and overworking as China, this movement is also catching on. The younger generation of workers is calling it “tang ping” which translates to “lying flat”. It’s turning out to be a social protest movement against a culture that glorifies overwork, exhaustion, and the 996 work hour system. They would rather choose to lie flat and get the beatings done with.

The Great Resignation – why its happening?

Most big decisions post-pandemic have been attributed to the lockdown fatigue and it is very real. The frustrations of numerous lockdowns, the extreme changes in routine, the uncertainties, and the general feeling of fear and anxiety that came with the lack of information have caused extreme fatigue and a desperate need to find something better. Burn-out is the top reason given by employees, especially in the healthcare and hospitality industries for leaving their previous roles.

But that’s not all. Employee experience is a major part of it. Here are the other reasons why people have been motivated to quit.

  • Lack of flexibility Along with the lockdowns also came working from home. Work-from-home for many gave a better sense of control over work-life balance. Returning to on-site roles meant giving up the ability to juggle and balance personal and professional commitments through the course of the day. And, working in sweat pants. About 40% of employees said that they were attracted to their current positions because it gave them the opportunity to work remotely.But that is not the only loss in flexibility. With Work-from-home and the freedom it offers, many started exploring the advantages of the gig economy. The returns on investment are higher, there is space to explore, you can pursue things that you are deeply passionate about and there is the freedom to pursue other avenues when the monotony sets in.
  • Insufficient compensationInsufficient benefits plus an extreme workload has been a toxic combination that has pushed many into quitting. While the entire economy has been hit, allowing the workers to face the brunt of it with pay cuts has pushed more people out the door.
  • Organisational care and valuing ideasAnother significant reason that goes far deeper than compensation is a sense of well-being and care. The way an organisation treated its people during the peak of the pandemic, the stances it takes on social issues, the investment it makes in employee well-being are important to the current generation. Employee experiences, workplace diversity, valuing thoughts, ideas and individuals directly translate into an organisation’s retention rate.
  • Lack of training opportunitiesEspecially in the tech industry, lack of on-the-job training is also a major source of frustration.

Most big decisions post-pandemic have been attributed to the lockdown fatigue and it is very real. The frustrations of numerous lockdowns, the extreme changes in routine, the uncertainties, and the general feeling of fear and anxiety that came with the lack of information have caused extreme fatigue and a desperate need to find something better. Burn-out is the top reason given by employees, especially in the healthcare and hospitality industries for leaving their previous roles.

But that’s not all. Employee experience is a major part of it. Here are the other reasons why people have been motivated to quit.

  • Lack of flexibility Along with the lockdowns also came working from home. Work-from-home for many gave a better sense of control over work-life balance. Returning to on-site roles meant giving up the ability to juggle and balance personal and professional commitments through the course of the day. And, working in sweat pants. About 40% of employees said that they were attracted to their current positions because it gave them the opportunity to work remotely.But that is not the only loss in flexibility. With Work-from-home and the freedom it offers, many started exploring the advantages of the gig economy. The returns on investment are higher, there is space to explore, you can pursue things that you are deeply passionate about and there is the freedom to pursue other avenues when the monotony sets in.
  • Insufficient compensationInsufficient benefits plus an extreme workload has been a toxic combination that has pushed many into quitting. While the entire economy has been hit, allowing the workers to face the brunt of it with pay cuts has pushed more people out the door.
  • Organisational care and valuing ideasAnother significant reason that goes far deeper than compensation is a sense of well-being and care. The way an organisation treated its people during the peak of the pandemic, the stances it takes on social issues, the investment it makes in employee well-being are important to the current generation. Employee experiences, workplace diversity, valuing thoughts, ideas and individuals directly translate into an organisation’s retention rate.
  • Lack of training opportunitiesEspecially in the tech industry, lack of on-the-job training is also a major source of frustration.

Impact on the organisation

At its core, attrition is expensive for an organisation. Disengagement and loss of productivity cost over $60 million for a typical company of about 10,000 employees. Besides, re-hiring is never cheap. Every new generation that comes into an organisation will increase the expenses of the organisation.

In addition to cost, it also has a direct impact on productivity and will slow down the rate of growth.

What can a company do?

The onus is now on the organisation to reduce attrition and work towards fixing the problem at a systemic level. It begins with competitive levels of compensation. Employees want to be acknowledged for their individuality and their skills than being pigeonholed to a singular role. It is high time organisations recoup and reframe the rat-race kind of ethos and work toward the long-term well-being of their people.

  • There is a definite need to reinvent the organisation. The management needs to invest some time and effort in understanding motivations that push its people outside the door. As a society, most of us are facing the pressures and anxieties of the pandemic, climate change, and the violent breakouts of systemic inequality. An employer taking a stance and working to be part of the solution will go a long way in helping their workers re-engage.
  • Strict hierarchies and distrust need to be replaced with healthier work environments where individuals are valued beyond their roles. Organisations are now working towards trust-building and camaraderie even in hybrid work setups. No one wants to feel Big Brother’s eye on them at all times.
  • Open channels of communication. While automation can help the HR department, communication needs to happen with a human touch.
  • Hiring more inclusively and providing hybrid options for the underserved, people with physical disabilities and reframing traditional hiring policies.
  • Taking an employee-centric approach to policymaking.
  • Tailored retention programs that will fit industries and individual organisations
  • A sensitised management cadre that takes into account the importance of mental health and overall worker well-being. As management, your employee branding is just as important and is directly proportional to your future talent acquisition.
  • Redefine workplace culture so that care and belonging become an intrinsic part of work flow.

It is a brave new world

Having braved the pandemic, people are now less tolerant of overworking, competing in rat-races, and feeling stuck in a job with no growth. It is a reckoning for organisations to embrace and accept the humanity of the people who make up the organisations.
On the plus side, it is means placement season for the newest batch of graduates is going to be a “sell out”. Following the trend, take your time to figure out where you want to be and what you want to do before deciding to join an organisation. Remember, you evaluate the organisation just as much as the organisation evaluates you.

Read also more about HR trends in post pandemic world.

Date added
13.12.2021

Filed under:

Global EdGlobal News and Perspectives

Subscribe!

No spam, just your favourite topics.

Choose Insight topics that you are interested in to subscribe for your personalized newsletter.

A world
of possibilities awaits.
Join the movement.
Find your perfect university,
in one of 40 countries all over the world
Prepare for the future,
whether at university, business or in employment
Secure your future,
through smart, international investments
Connect with leading international companies
and unlock the potential of your team
Fill in the form, so we can contact
you and start our journey together.