We have all read about the ‘great depression’ of the 1930s. We lived through the ‘great recession’ in the years following 2008. Now we are hearing about the ‘Great Resignation’ as millions of workers quit their jobs in response to changes brought about by the pandemic.
According to data from the U.S. Labor Department, 20 million workers resigned in the past six months. Data collated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows in its 38 member countries there are 20 million less employed people than before the pandemic.
And in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in China, more and more younger workers are choosing to leave their jobs. The workforce shortage is being felt all over the world. This is, indeed, a global crisis.
Reasons for resigning
Many people have re-evaluated their priorities and found that what they want from life looks a lot different post-pandemic. Some workers have decided not to put off retirement any longer. Others are looking at their options and choosing to leave their organization for one more aligned with their current needs.
With record numbers of employee resignations, and research showing an employer will spend on average 33% of an individual’s annual salary to replace them, this trend has the potential to significantly impact an organization’s bottom line.
A Forbes article recently discussed CareerBuilder research that reveals Millennials and Gen Z are leading the way in numbers of resigning employees. There are several possible explanations for this – and actions organizations can take to mitigate.
Many Millennials are now entering into leadership roles, and we know this generation places a high value on work/life balance. The pandemic offered the opportunity for many of us to work from home, and not everyone will want to return to the office full-time. By continuing to offer hybrid working, an organization demonstrates its flexibility to adapt which will particularly appeal to Millennials.
Equally, Gen Z grew up in a connected world and continue to look for ways to continue to utilize the technology available to them. They are now entering into the workforce and are often seen as wanting to drive change.
It is critical an organization continues to evolve to meet the needs of this changing workforce. Learning opportunities that empower Gen Z to stay current will be just as important as the offer of remote or hybrid working to attract and retain younger staff and combat the Great Resignation.
Flexible and personalized
Regardless of their age, to be viewed as an employer of choice for top talent includes making sure the opportunities available are personalized to an employee’s specific needs.
The first step is to talk to your people and engage in meaningful dialogue to understand what will help them to do their job better. There is a good chance some priorities may have shifted since the beginning of the pandemic.
Ask what kind of support they need to be successful in their roles and don’t assume you know the answer. Ask them about their aspirations. What do they want their role to look like in one year, three years, five years? Your employees want to know how you are going to help them grow in their careers, and they are going to hold you accountable.
It is important to note your employees are not looking for a one-size-fits-all approach to their development. They want a personalized learning journey that is meaningful to them. Creating a learning environment that is engaging and empowering means they are less likely to leave.
Make sure to investigate the various learning opportunities available, as these may have also shifted due to the pandemic.
As the world of work continues to change, so too does the type of learning available. Learning shouldn’t be an inconvenience, it should fit into an employee’s schedule as well as those of the organization. You want your people to look forward to development opportunities and get the most out of them.
Let’s explore some of the options for learning and development that are personalized and tailored to the individual:
- Self-paced learning. An opportunity for the employee to work through learning content at his or her own pace. While there might be a timeframe to complete it, the employee has some flexibility as to when the learning will occur.
- Micro learning. Often referred to as bite-sized learning. The content may only take 5-10 minutes to consume, so the employee does not feel like learning is disruptive to their work or personal life.
- Virtual learning. The employee can engage in development that allows them to remain in the safety and comfort of their home or work office. This is convenient and an accessible option for those that need to maintain a social distance.
- Competency-specific learning. Employees need different developmental opportunities based on their roles and their natural styles. By targeting specific competencies an employee would like to develop, and that are required within your organization, it is more likely they will be able to apply the learning immediately.
- Accelerated learning. An employee may have highlighted their desire to grow into a higher-level role, and a succession plan may need to be created which involves learning and development. There are many opportunities to create leadership development programs for high-potential employees which challenge them in new and different ways.
While in the past organizations have viewed rewarding employees through financial compensation as a way to attract and retain talent, this is no longer a top motivator for many. The IBM Institute for Business Value recently completed a study of 14,000 consumers from nine countries and found while compensation and benefits were important, work-life balance and opportunities for career advancement topped the list of motivators.
Many people’s priorities have shifted because of the pandemic. What was important in the workplace of the past is no longer relevant now. Remember employees want to feel empowered, encouraged, and engaged. If the support they need to feel fulfilled and successful is lacking, they’ll look elsewhere.