The pandemic sparked an unprecedented power shift from employers to employees leading to a drove of voluntary resignations across the globe. In the context of this ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon, a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed insights on the mix of pandemic lockdowns, remote work, and an online revolution towards a healthier work-life balance. This study is quoted as an example of a ‘perfect storm’ that led to quitting rates that were 50% higher than usual.
We are living in an era of the Great Resignation, which means that more and more employees are considering quitting their jobs. Unfortunately, when mass resignations and layoffs have become commonplace, much of the deserved attention has not been given to the resignation activity – ‘voluntary employee turnover’. Insights from the Visier Insights Stop the Exit report revealed that the annualized resignation rate for organizations for January to August 2021 was a staggering 25%, compared to 22% in the same period of 2019, and 18% in a pandemic-ridden period January to August of 2020.
For a considerable chunk of the labor market, resignations have been on the rise – which means that even the pandemic could not be a show stopper for employees leaving for better opportunities. Employers must start by assessing voluntary risk within their organizations and take the necessary steps to reduce employee exits. How do we begin? By understanding that there are two narratives to this issue – and must be viewed from the lens of both the employer and employee.
What does quitting mean for the employer?
As an employer, the last thing that you may want to see is employees quitting in droves. Addison Group says that “it is critical to understand what causes the ‘bad days’ at work that nudge employees to look for new jobs”. And just banking on employee satisfaction is not a key strategy for retaining talent and requires ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
In a tight labor market, finding skilled workers is an uphill task and solid retention strategies are the only solution to retaining talent and keeping employees satisfied. And with the employees being at a vantage point, it is imperative to engage them through constant feedback to address their pain areas before they start heading for the hills. The first step toward employee retention is to reflect on what they want and seek, and what is causing them to quit. It is, therefore, time for the employers to introspect these areas:
- Is our workplace culture driving it? How do we nurture a more supportive culture?
- Are our employees feeling a shared sense of purpose and belonging in what they do?
- Do we offer psychological safety and put our employees’ well-being before anything else?
- Are we offering enough motivation for our stellar employees to stay back?
- Are the managers and leaders of the organization addressing areas around continual engagement, feedback, and collaboration?
- How do we continue to empower our most valuable asset – our people?
However, the biggest takeaway for employees is communication. By being transparent and communicating your actions down to the last employee, you are setting a stage for inclusion and engagement which is likely to propel motivation and overall employee morale.
What does quitting mean for the employee?
The pandemic has exposed an abundance of employment opportunities and has empowered workers to re-evaluate their work-life balance and prioritize their well-being above their employers’. A study by LinkedIn in 2019 revealed that 35% of the 3,000 professionals that they surveyed said that the top reason they do not like their job is that they do not feel a strong sense of purpose.
Employees have started to closely examine their fundamental needs and career aspirations and require a whole new conversation to feel strongly embedded at the organization. The areas that they may question are:
- Do I feel challenged and motivated in my daily tasks?
- Am I getting to see professional and personal growth in terms of more skills and responsibilities in my overall growth story?
- Am I getting enough actionable feedback for improvement from my managers or teams to create maximum impact?
- Does my employer place value on purpose-driven work and foster the feeling of workplace belonging?
- Does my organizational culture drive positivity in every employee so that they can bring their best selves to work?
The new normalization of work has caused a breakthrough in the mindsets of employees with greater expectations from their managers. Managers are now being seen more as an emotional support system who bring in the element of human-centered experience in the interactions with their reports. Employees who actively seek these interactions – that are not just ‘transactions’, are the most likely to stay.
How can peer coaching help?
Various aspects of management were explored in a survey called Key Trends Impacting Today’s Workplace that involved over 200,000 employees in more than 500 organizations. The most interesting insight was peer motivation(20%) and feeling encouraged and recognized(13%). Firstly, a data-driven approach to analyzing the value drivers for the modern workforce long before employees decide to leave can help employers to identify why people leave and boost retention.
Essentially, a feedback-driven culture is imperative for bridging the gap between the employer and employee expectations. Organizations are, therefore, being urged to adopt peer coaching as a mechanism for fostering connections not just with the organizational leadership but also with peers – with peers technically being in the know of the ‘day-to-day’ of the employee.
Numly’s peer coaching data-driven methodologies are aimed at:
- Making connections and conversations deliberate and meaningful
- Practicing vulnerability to enable openness in communication
- Enabling transformational learning among employees through empathy and mindfulness
With the looming threat of the ‘turnover tsunami’, there are practices that organizations can employ to minimize the impact by focusing on what matters most to employees today. However, a beginning has to be made. It starts with humanizing work to propel employee experience and fulfillment for trumping the war of workforce attraction and retention.