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The Great Resignation: What Is It And What Can We Learn From It?

You've probably heard of the Great Resignation by now. We're breaking down how it affects both the younger and more experienced talent pools, leaders, and organizations as a whole.

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The “Great Resignation” trend is here to stay. 22% of all job seekers report quitting their previous job, and 73% of currently employed workers say that they are actively thinking about quitting their jobs.

What is the ‘Great Resignation?’

If you've browsed your favorite news source or social media platform, you've probably seen this term tossed around before. "The Great Resignation" was coined after the spring of 2021 and refers to more than 33 million employees who have left their jobs. While at first, many believed that The Great Resignation was mostly millennials leaving their jobs to pursue their passions, recent studies show this is affecting all generations of the workforce.

The Great Resignation is affecting the multigenerational workforce. For instance, many older workers are opting for early retirement — whether forced by the pandemic or made possible otherwise — and it’s playing a big role in America's evolving labor market. According to ADP Chief Economist Nela Richardson, the strong stock market along with increased home prices "has given some higher-income people options. We already saw a large portion of the boomer workforce retiring. And they're in a better position now."

According to Minnesota resident Kevin O'Connor, the former CEO of a medical systems manufacturing company, the choice to retire early was easy. After spending nearly two years working from home with his wife and grandchildren, he realized once he returned to his normal work routine of frequently traveling, he would miss out on so many memorable experiences with his grandchildren. At 58, he says “I just realized that the thought of getting up on a Monday morning and getting to the airport for a 7:00 AM flight and going through the grind was not appealing to me anymore.”

You may be wondering, how this is affecting the younger workforce? 2021 shed major light on the importance of benefits, work-life balance, and the importance of treating your employees well (even beyond times of crisis). In a recent survey done by Joblist, 17% of workers left their jobs due to a lack of benefits and feelings that they were underpaid. While 13% were seeking opportunities that provided a better work-life balance. Additionally, nearly 20% of those surveyed were quitting their jobs because of the way their employer treated them during the pandemic.

What are job seekers wanting from employers?

Workers are looking beyond the salary when they’re seeking out new opportunities. Here are several key leadership characteristics that job seekers (and current employees) are actively looking for from their employers:

• Authentic and Empathetic: A heightened ability to sense context and deliver relatable communications across departments and teams

• Purpose-Driven: An ability to connect the organization to societal purpose and make a positive contribution to the wider society

• Inclusive: Going beyond making employees feel heard and including them in building new ways and processes going forward

• Innovative and Adaptable: COVID has accelerated change and caused employees to question business and operating models. Leaders must demonstrate that they can evolve their businesses (and themselves) to earn and keep employees engaged

• Collaborate down - not just across: Employers must be willing to work with team members deeper in the organization – this not only helps build their engagement and commitment but also allows for information and ideas to make their way up the ladder to top leaders

Ultimately, job seekers want to be heard. They are now in a position of power to demand more from their employer, or simply find an employer that is a better fit – and they will find one – the U.S. has more job openings than any time in history. Once they find a company where their values align, people will find themselves feeling happy with what they do again.

How to attract and retain top talent

There’s an evident disconnect between the job environment employees want — expect — and the ones they currently have, and that explains why ‘The Great Resignation’ is what it is. Now more than ever, it's a great time for organizations to reevaluate what they can do to keep attracting and retaining talent. Here are the top three things to consider that will help your organization to stand out among the rest.

Create a Sense of Belonging at Work

Whether you have an in-office or remote team, creating a sense of belonging can go a long way. Such as, creating an environment where all people feel they belong and where no one feels forced to cover who they really are. When people can truly feel themselves, they will not only be able to contribute at the highest level but will feel closer to the organization and their colleagues.

It’s Not Always Business as Usual

As we continue to navigate this global pandemic, people continue to struggle. Zoom fatigue, school closures, illness, and more - are all still very real. The current environment no longer supports a “business as usual” way of thinking. It’s important to take a step back and recognize this. Begin to pivot away from that business-as-usual mindset and think of ways to provide support. This can look like a variety of things and a great way for your organization to show it values its talent.

A Culture of Caring

Being a good leader isn’t just about increased results or sales. Being a good leader also means caring about people. It's simple, caring creates trust, and trust creates loyalty. It’s what makes good people stay and take good care of your business. A recent Gallup survey found that 54% of employees feel they can approach their manager with any type of question. This also allows for a more productive workplace!

We’ve all heard it, we’re living in unprecedented times. Now is the perfect time to continue to learn and lead in great new ways. Your organization will be able to attract and retain the best employees, even amid the Great Resignation.

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