Great Resignation

The Great Resignation 2021: Are you listening to your employees?

“Whenever there are lots of job openings and resignations happening, employees gain power”

Anthony Klontz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M Tweet

The pandemic has reminded us of one of the most primal human traits – adaptability to change. As we change, we evolve. Cliche’d though it sounds, change has been the only constant in our lives in the last year. Particularly, in the way we work. And it has become imperative that organizations and HR leaders adapt themselves to the new way of work. The Great Resignation Wave of 2021 is perhaps one of the biggest indicators that the much-discussed “Future of Work” is finally here. 

Here is a story of John. He is fictitious as far as this article is concerned. But his story is as real as it gets. He could be you, or your colleague or friend or spouse. John works at AXB Computers inc. He was living THE corporate life. A daily commute to work, a cubicle adorned with motivational stickers and photos, meetings, presentations and water cooler chit-chat & after-work parties. Such was his life before the pandemic struck.

Things changed and just like it did for many others, the lockdown hit John unawares and almost overnight. Initially, he disliked it and missed his desk at work and the humdrum of a workplace. As time went by he realized he saved money and time, and what more, his performance at work was consistent too. In fact, he could now spend quality time with his family, was able to go on a run with his dog, and create his own podcast. 

A week ago, John received an email from HR asking the employees to return to work as things were getting back normal and he was vaccinated. He looked back at the time he got to spend with his family, and was sure he would miss it sorely.. His podcast had just reached 10k subscribers and was wondering if he would be able to pursue his hobby now. Despite all the odds, the remote work model was good for him.. He checked for jobs and surprisingly there were many companies out there that offered WFH. He was delighted at the prospects of staying home and just yesterday he landed himself a new job and submitted his resignation to his previous employer. 

And that is how the great resignation started for many companies.

John is no exception. There are thousands of people leaving their companies for better work culture and flexible hours and that has set the great resignation of 2021 rolling. For HR Leaders across the globe, this has triggered a race to retain talent. Organizations are formulating newer policies as to how they could slow down and keep their workforce intact. 

Surveys and studies conducted across the globe have in one way or the other substantiated and supported the claim that we are on the cusp of a change. At the turning point in our career paths, and are all set to herald the next normal of work and workplace. Here’s what the studies say: 

  1.  A Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions this year. On the flipside of remote working, are the expectations set by organizations on the need to be productive and on the clock, every time and all the time resulting in burnout amongst employees? Quoting Microsoft study here – , “higher productivity is masking an exhausted workforce.”

2. A study from HR software company Personio of workers in the UK and Ireland showed 38% of those surveyed planned to quit in the next six months to a year. According to Department of Labor, in the US alone, April 2021 saw more than four million people quit their jobs.

3. In its 2019 Retention Report: Trends, Reasons and A Call to Action, the Work Institute found that the top three reasons for leaving a job were career development, work-life balance, and manager behavior.

Looking at the data above, the picture seems to be pretty clear. Employees are trying to find better organizations to work for. Organizations that provide better work-life balance, and at the least offer a flexible hybrid model of work. The reasons can be many but so are the solutions.

As HR Leaders, it is time to buckle up. Resuming work from office, designing a hybrid work model, or continuing with a work from home model is a decision that will vary for every organization. However, one factor that needs to be considered always is taking the opinion and sentiments of the employees in matters that concern them. Ensuring that every voice is listened to is the first step while initiating any big organizational changes. 

Seeking employees thoughts and feedback and making them an integral part of the decision-making process infuses trust in employees. Berry, an AI-based employee experience platform can help HR Leaders indulge in conversations with employees remotely and derive actionable feedbacks. Can you halt or at least slow down the great resignation in your organization? Yes, you can do so by actively listening to employee voices because if you are not going to listen to them, there are workplaces out there that will.