The Great Resignation: Domino Effect or a Great Opportunity

Post pandemic, we are in the middle of the so-called ‘The Great Resignation’ which has led to an unexpected shift in the workplace with the mass exodus of workers, that has left everyone scratching their heads. After a year filled with shutdowns, economic uncertainty and record-breaking unemployment levels, a massive change took place that no one could have anticipated:  The last several months have seen a tidal wave of resignations, not only in the U.S. but also around the globe. In social democratic Western Europe, a stronger safety net has led to somewhat less disruption in the workforce. But similar trends are at play. In Asia’s diverse economies, other pains are being felt. China is seeing with a younger generation of workers more disenchanted by their prospects and turned off by the relatively low wages in the manufacturing centres that powered China’s economic rise.  In the Tech world, there has been immense acceleration of digital adoption and transformation, leading to a huge demand supply gap. This has led to candidates jumping on the next most lucrative opportunity, creating a thread of resignations.

What led to the Great Resignation?

The pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities, not only in USA, but across the globe across sectors as many businesses were forced to shut down and growth targets were realigned. There was extreme hardship faced by both businesses and workers during the prolonged lockdown. This was preceded by decades of stagnation in worker wages and benefits in most of the nations.

Can this lead to a Domino Effect?

Dominos are actually a learning lesson when it comes to business.  An organization will spend months, if not years, setting up the pieces together in a pattern that yields growth.  Then at one point – someone  adjusts or replaces one of those pieces and that change inadvertently knocks over the other pieces  – and it causes a chain reaction – the domino effect.

In the past few months, globally, it led to multiple employees independently reacting to the same change due to powerful psychological effect, getting influenced socially of seeing your peers leave. Driven by factors like burnout, financial concerns, safety, job security and stability or a greater need for work-life balance, many employees have been taking their careers into their own hands by searching for greener grass in new roles in hyper-flexible, people-first workplaces.

How Are Employers Responding?

The transition from a traditionally onsite to fully remote workforce resulted in a bumpy change in operations for many companies.

The Great Resignation has been triggered by insensitive employers assuming that we can now immediately return to ‘normal.’ CEOs are at their wits’ end when it comes to getting their employees back into the office

The departure of key employees is a critical time to invest in the remaining employee and address the underlying conditions, and in recruiting new staff. Yet too many employers do the exact opposite: try to save money by burdening the existing employees with more work, which leads to increased job dissatisfaction.

Nevertheless, lot of organizations are using a variety of strategies to respond to increased turnover, including offering new or additional remote work or flexibility options, employee referral bonuses, merit increases, and additional spot bonuses. Examples like PWC going remote, allowing 40,000 employees to stay remote, and choosing to pay employees based off where they live, and letting them go remote at any time.

New Wave Of Talent:

The pandemic has triggered a work-life balance rethink. So the great reshuffle in some sense is all about finding new purpose, finding new priorities for employees and build a career of choice, and to actually connect to employers who fall into the same purpose.  When shifts do occur, they usually coincide with a new generation entering the workforce. Today’s talent doesn’t look like yesterday. Work-life fluidity has gained momentum with job seekers and employed professionals alike.

The Great Opportunity:

The shifting market dynamics will be hard on employers, but the emotionally intelligent and smart ones will use it as an opportunity.  Supporting a distributed workforce is not without challenges along with investing into building a culture and behaviours that will support employee retention in the long term. As a result, expectations for leadership are changing significantly. The answer is to take a human-centric approach by building deeper connections, transparency and empathy with the employees.

The cost of keeping a business running digitally with emerging innovations will be the  prime effective way to streamline efficiency in the long term for a  post-pandemic workplace and to adapt change the talent and technology landscape.

Identifying and attracting top talent is critical to success moving forward, As the world of work continues to evolve, talent acquisition processes have significantly changed. Talent development, upskilling and reskilling is crucial for establishing dynamic workforces. Our work culture is evolving toward a greater emphasis on overall productivity, results and growth rather than hours worked without diminishing focus on visibility.

Life-changing events like the pandemic will always give people cause to stop and think about how they want to live their lives. But by treating this large-scale re-evaluation as an opportunity instead of a threat, and taking actions that improve your organisation in the long term, will be well-positioned going forward.

Article written by Jasmine Haria, CFR Global Executive Search Singapore
Photo source: Pixabay

Share this article: