,,Great Resignation” – big problem or opportunity?

,,Great Resignation” – big problem or opportunity?

May 27, 2024 IPI 0

As of April 2021, more than 19 million U.S. workers have given up their jobs, with an unprecedented and significant impact on business operations, the market and social life

We’ve known for a long time that the employee perspective and the employer perspective tend to diverge sharply, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted and exacerbated the differences in perception and experience of work. As the McKinsey Group study points out, “employers believe that employees leave their jobs or are dissatisfied for a variety of reasons – pay, work-life balance, poor physical and emotional health. Interestingly, the results showed that while these issues mattered, there were other, more important aspects that played a more significant role in driving the employee exodus we are currently seeing” (1).

What causes workers to quit?

The study indicates that as of April 2021, more than 19 million U.S. workers have resigned, with an unprecedented significant impact on the functioning of companies, the market and the social life of people – including – in the rest of the world. The main reasons for resignation identified in the survey are lack of appreciation and recognition by the organization and supervisor, lack of a sense of belonging to the company, psychological insecurity in the team, or lack of potential for career advancement, as well as low flexibility and autonomy in one’s own workspace.

How can employers retain people?

Companies and their leaders are responding to this situation with previously developed and proven solutions such as increasing salaries, allocating bonuses or other benefits. These solutions served their purpose before the pandemic, but now they are not enough. One of the reasons is that employees have a sense of a kind of transactionalism in their relationship with the employer ie: “I pay and demand, and you must continue to work at the highest level,” which is undoubtedly a legacy of the assumptions of the Industrial Revolution, a remnant of which is, for example, the 5-day work week. This approach can foster a belief in the employee that his or her real needs are being downplayed or belittled by the company.
Remote work has also had the effect of reinforcing the low self-motivation and self-esteem of employees, who often lose the need to work strongly with others. They become more “free electrons” – rather than working “as part of a single organism,” which consequently fuels a low sense of belonging to the organization and difficulty in identifying goals.

As a result, many people quit their jobs without having an alternative solution. They quit claiming that they are burned out professionally. They look for inspiration, social connection and belonging, and when they don’t find it they simply quit. Salary, material benefits and perks are of course important, but more than that, employees want to be appreciated by their organizations and managers. They are looking for interaction, not just transactions.

How to effectively manage and motivate?

When employer-leaders of an organization are only focused on the “old” pre-covid solutions, they can encounter a big problem in management in that they no longer work. Currently, employees want more company involvement in the human aspects of work, as well as help from the organization to revise or refresh their own sense of purpose at work, or a doctored identity within the organization. Employees, of course, want good pay, material benefits, perks, but even more, they want and need a sense of belonging to their team and organization. They want a connection between their own goals and those of the company, and quality interactions, not necessarily private, they certainly don’t want transactions.

What should a leader do in the current situation?

The current moment calls for expanding the leadership competencies of leaders to include high level skills: communication, building psychological safety, and above all, inducing deep long-term motivation. These competencies certainly include the whole system of a manager’s individual work with an employee, specifically, how a manager communicates goals, gives feedback, delegates tasks, which key competencies he develops in his colleagues, and how he does it. It’s also worth reviewing what kind of attitude a leader manifests in management, by considering, for example, whether he focuses on checking an employee or on developing his competencies.

Revolution 4.0 and the social changes affecting work in and after the pandemic require new solutions. Leaders may want or even need to reconsider their management methods and the actual nature of their relationships with co-workers, because if they don’t, it’s very likely that employees will do it for them – simply by quitting. Such a review can become an opportunity to build a new quality of cooperation and attract and retain the best talent in the organization.

Autor Anna Modrzewska

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