Each one of us is a player in the Great Resignation — as a participant in the workforce — as an owner, leader, employee, independent contractor, or not-currently-employed worker. You are involved whether you are reflecting and reassessing, debating and deciding, waiting in the wings, making a move, speculating about what is going on, or watching to see who will leave and when. You can play a meaningful role in reducing the resignations — including your own.
Catalyzed by Crisis
The unprecedented upheavals during the first twelve months of the pandemic caused a significant shift in our minds about the role and meaning of work. Waiting so long for conditions to return to some semblance of normalcy many started wondering “Do I want to work like that again?” prompting the logical, “If not, then how?”
These questions have, in my opinion, long needed being asked and answered. The deterioration of the social contract — especially in the US — since the 1960s has resulted in a significant imbalance in the distribution of benefits between employers and employees. The focus has been on shareholders not stakeholders. “Command and control” leadership and transactional management have not fostered engaging employee experiences. Working constraints — such as location — have continued despite enabling technologies offering numerous tools that could improve employees’ working lives.
Then COVID-19 threw a huge spanner in the works, putting us all under intense pressure and giving millions the distance and time to reflect on the realities of what was — and what could be. It is not surprising that alternate (home-based vs office-based) restrictive conditions, a wider range of proven working options, and leadership lacking empathy have generated much soul-searching, re-evaluation, and, ultimately, departures.
Moreover, while fear and inertia are typically the two most important impediments to change, both have been dramatically reduced by the crisis. We have been living with dread, distress, and disruption for so many months that making a substantial change now is relatively easy to contemplate and act upon. Nostalgic recollections of pre-pandemic work situations have also been reviewed through a more realistic lens, and the longing now is often for something new…