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October 2021

‘The Great Resignation’—and what you can do about it!

My Coffee Chats series comprises of conversations with leading senior female executives and board members across industries who opine on topics that are taking corporate USA by storm. One such phenomenon resulting from the pandemic was recently termed The Great Resignation: a movement that involves the current workforce rethinking and reevaluating what work means to them and their families.

According to the Labor Department, during April, May and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million people quit their jobs. More recent reports by Monster.com show 95% of workers are considering changing jobs. Anywhere you go today, you see a “Help Wanted” sign.

People are readily leaving their jobs in search of more money, more flexibility, and more happiness. The power is shifting to the employees in what can only be called the current future of work. Employees are beginning to embrace their deep-seated emotions for change in the workplace. They feel they are employable and will have multiple opportunities available for them once they return from their “mental” break. How do employers cater to this evolution?

By having conversations. Employees need to, should be able to, and are beginning to engage in open dialog with their employers. Such discussions instigate a collaborative and cross-functional coaching mentality that not only is mindful of the overall business objectives but also enhances talent productivity and motivation. Employers will need to create an environment where people want to work — making it easier and better for people to rise and grow.

“We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed.”

– Tsedal Neeley, Harvard professor and author of Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere.

While the pandemic did result in a rage-quitting movement within the workforce, it also took a disproportionate hold of the number of women who have been severely affected in the past 18 months. Per a recent McKinsey report, three major groups experienced the most significant challenges: working mothers, women in senior management positions, and black women. Between caregiving responsibilities and balancing work and home, women’s resignation has increased year over year for the past two years. In addition, juggling homeschooling with back-to-office work schedules has added another level of stress and management that is a leading mental health concern for the population.

Working mothers and caregivers are looking for career opportunities that allow flexible working hours alongside work-from-home options without the attached ‘guilty’ feeling. Organizations need to look at innovative methods that encourage consistency through curated compartmentalized processes. They also need to further conversations around the importance of mental health and promote ongoing learning and development programs that help women organize their work-life balance.

So, what are some of the techniques that organizations are adopting to ensure a culture of retention?

  • Some companies are raising wages and offering better benefits. For example, just this year, the hourly pay for leisure and hospitality workers in nonsupervisory roles saw a 7% jump. A few restaurants are also starting to offer health insurance and retirement benefits for the first time.​
  • Certain businesses are reaching into nontraditional applicant pools — creating new opportunities for those who traditionally struggle to find employment.
  • Other firms pay 100% of college tuition and books for their workers, allowing them to earn degrees or learn trade skills without going into burdensome debt.

But is that enough?

Ask your people. The pandemic has offered you the golden opportunity to re-engage and reconnect with your ‘work family.’ Focus on building trust through transparency and providing a supportive culture that is innovative and caters to an all-inclusive employee experience.

Times are changing, and it is up to us to be prepared for it. Are you?

Nancy Albertini
Office of the CEO