The Great Remorse
2022 has been nothing if not a year of buzzwords. From the continued embrace of 2021’s ‘The Great Resignation’ to the new phenomena of ‘quiet quitting’, ‘quiet firing’ and the new if less snappy ‘quiet constraint’, these movements/memes/buzzwords indicate an ongoing examination of the value of a good employee experience.
And yet, there are more epithets to come. After the ‘Great Resignation’ and the ‘Great Return‘, more recently we have also seen the ‘Great Remorse‘ – employees who wish they hadn’t quit. For a certain percentage of leavers it was always going to happen – not least because there’s an economic downturn on the way.
(SIDEBAR: A recession, in its technical sense, is defined as two consecutive fiscal quarters without any economic growth. Put that way, it sounds less disastrous. Maybe we should stop fetishizing recessions? Anyway, back to the numbers…)
Quit rates have been such that the ‘Great’ tag is justified, and as per a Harris poll in March of this year, 70% of leavers say it’s been harder than they thought to find a new role.
It’s been a rollercoaster for employees in the last two years, and now it feels like the pendulum has swung back in favor of employers, with plenty of larger tech orgs in the middle of laying off thousands of employees.
Let’s find an upside – according to some, more startups are founded in a recession than in an economic boom, so perhaps in a decade we’ll see even more innovation in AI, genetics, payroll tech and elsewhere? Here’s hoping…
Digital skills – where are you?
Another struggle for businesses is the never-ending challenge of upskilling. Does your organization have the digital skills it needs? And is the ever-decreasing half life of skills relevance/efficacy going to make things difficult? Perhaps it’s time for more businesses to lean into the WFA way of life.
As Jacques Du Bruyn, managing director of Flume told UNLEASH recently: “Recruitment can be particularly difficult for agencies. Many are small-to-medium sized enterprises – so if they’re struggling to fill even a small percentage of their workforce, it can really affect their ability to deliver for existing clients or take on new work. If you’re having difficulty sourcing 10-20% of your workforce, that can have a significant impact on the sustainability of your business.”
As crucial as upskilling is, when all options are exhausted and your business needs to grow, and quickly, it might be time to look outside the four walls of your virtual office.
Age ain’t nothin’ but a demographic cohort
A recent promotion of Fortune’s 40 under 40 list caught my eye. Maybe I was mildly incensed because I’m no longer in that age bracket (and haven’t been for four years), but I think it triggered something else in me, something I’d watched recently.
The C Suite understandably skews older in most companies as it usually takes time to get the breadth of experience needed (through several failures you’d hope) to run a successful company.
This trend is mercifully tempered by the tech sector. While I think it’s great to highlight the next generation of dreamers and doers coming through, I also appreciate the rhetoric of entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk who often talk about the importance of realizing how long ‘you have left’ – a crucial message of empowerment to anyone who thinks they’ve missed the boat.
Celebrating younger entrepreneurs is critical to planning our future, but so too is spotlighting the 60 over 60, the 80 over 80 who might have that next revolutionary idea up their proverbial cardigan sleeve.
We are living longer – retirement as we know it now may not be a viable option for that many in the decades to come. Perhaps a four day week (or less) could help make a multi-generational workforce achieve more than we first thought.
(Cautionary) tales from the crypt(o)
A quick comment on the collapse of crypto exchange FTX and the rise and fall of its founder Sam Bankman-Fried (widely known as SBF).
I didn’t know his name, nor was I familiar with his business until last week, but I was very familiar with the lessons that could be learned in this story of another financial Icarus. While cryptocurrency is not directly related to HR, we can learn lessons about trust, leadership, financial precarity, and hubris. It seems ‘SBF’ had some noble goals within crypto and the wider finance world so, sad to see them not to come to fruition.
Instead, let’s focus on the semantics. Too many people will read the story of this man’s financial demise and think ‘blockchain is a Bad Thing in Bad Space full of Bad Actors.’ True, there are plenty of bad actors amidst the crypto gold rush but it’s worth reiterating that the general use of the blockchain has very little to do with this particular episode of misfortune.
As more and more HR tech companies with the blockchain in their product sets, let’s not confuse our Bitcoin with our DAOs with our NFTs, or any of the other distinct but overlapping elements of the web 3 lexicon. There is innovation to be embraced here. Keep your mind open and view the possibilities of Web 3 with the rational consideration it deserves.
And remember – never bet more than you can afford to lose.
The International Festival of HR is back! Discover amazing speakers from the world of HR and business at UNLEASH America on 26-27 April 2023.