State of play
There has been a significant shift in the workplace felt by employees, employers , and even governmental levels. The battle over flexible working, exacerbated by the pandemic is coming to a head with thousands of us leaving our jobs, seeking out something different or something more.
According to a report by McKinsey and Company, 36% of employees who have quit in the last six months did so without a new job offer in hand. This isn’t about security, an increase in pay or necessarily getting a dream job, this is purely about getting out of a situation that’s no longer tolerable for the individual.
Why do employers think people are leaving?
Reasons cited by employers and businesses as to why the great resignation is happening include:
- wanting to work from home
- wanting to move out of the city
- don’t want to commute anymore
Although these reasons may contribute to the overall decision, this is by no means the entire story.
Burnout is actually so much more than stress and has to be dealt with in a much more comprehensive way. Jennifer Moss, the author of The Burnout Epidemic, cites burnout research pointing to a lack of autonomy, recognition and connection, doing work that doesn’t reflect one’s values and feeling as if the workplace is unfair.
When it comes to location flexibility, employees have realised that they can productively do their role from home, therefore saving time and money commuting, buying lunches, and paying for childcare.
So, clearly, flexibility in the workplace is a key contributor to this mass resignation phenomenon, but it’s still only one part of it.
Businesses and leaders are overstating its importance to the point that it’s appearing as the only reason people are leaving is that they don’t want to be in the office 9–5 anymore. It’s not all about location and commuter lengths.
Why are employees leaving?
Whether resignations are due to the individual not feeling like their contribution matters, that their values don’t align with that of the business, that they desperately need a change, or that they no longer feel challenged – there are dozens of reasons why people might leave.
Now that many people in the UK seem to be feeling as if the world is back to normal, the economic uncertainty preventing them from taking the workplace leap no longer looms as large. Where there previously would’ve been a steady drip of resignations, two years’ worth has all come to a head within months.
Elliot Walker, founder and CEO of The Massage Company, has recognised this: ‘The last 18 months have driven a desire for change in employees across the UK. People want better job satisfaction, they want a fresh start, and they want to feel a sense of independence and control over their career.’
The control aspect is critical here. During the pandemic, many of us felt entirely out of control and at the whims of others, causing a rise in anxiety, depression and stress, particularly over the future.
We couldn’t choose where we were working, and we couldn’t control when the restrictions would change, which left many of us looking to take back control of whatever aspect of our lives we could – namely, our careers.
The disparity between the employer’s thoughts behind the great resignation and the employees’ given reasons for leaving is a problem here.
What can employers practically do?
The statistics show that feeling like you belong, are valued and listened to, particularly around flexibility, is as influential regarding retention figures as traditional salary conversations. So much so that a recent study by NearForm showed that 26% would accept a pay cut to work remotely.
In a Randstad study, 60% of UK workers would turn down a new role if they believe that the company’s values don’t align with their own. It’s long been posited that Millennials and Gen Z is looking for something more from their work than just remuneration.
Incorrectly, many businesses translate this into pool tables and complimentary coffee. Still, all these perks blur the already strained lines between work and play, which is not conducive to our sanity and mental health.
Businesses and organisations need to address the mental health and mental fitness elephant in the room if they want to retain their staff and keep productivity and creativity high.
Increasingly organisations are turning to practical, action-based solutions such as Leafyard. Leafyard is a web application that combines science and study to motivate people to take control of their mental health and educates and motivates them to take small steps
Improving mental fitness in the workplace has been shown to increase resilience, improve communication, listening skills and individual self-worth – all aspects that have been lacking during the past few years, culminating in this mass career exodus.
We spend a third of our day at work. Therefore, it takes up most of our waking hours , and people finally realise that this time needs to be spent in a place that nurtures and supports our well-being. Businesses need to get on board now or risk not having enough staff to operate.