What has been termed the ‘Great Resignation’ has been all over the news for the last 12 months. Pundits love talking about it, as do economists and business consultants. To actual participants though, the Great Resignation is not just a topic for cable news shows and blog posts. Its causes are rooted in genuine concerns that should force a ‘great rethink’ among business leaders. But will that actually happen?
Make no mistake about it, the Great Resignation is affecting nearly every sector of U.S. business. Restaurants still cannot operate at capacity because they don’t have enough cooks, servers, and bussers. The airline industry now subjects passengers to last minute cancellations because they don’t have enough pilots to fly their planes.
A lack of workers is only adding to the misery business owners now face. But a good portion of the Great Resignation’s root causes are of the business world’s own doing. Years ago, they began making the bed they now find themselves sleeping in. The good news is this: there is a way out.
Address the Root Causes
The way out is to actually address the root causes with real solutions. Speaking platitudes and offering an occasional free lunch isn’t going to cut it anymore. America’s employees have genuine grievances that need to be addressed. If we fail to do so, we may have to accept the current situation as the new normal.
BenefitMall, a Dallas general agency for benefits brokers, explains that employees left behind in the wake of the Great Resignation are facing even more stress than they did before the pandemic. Interestingly enough, the added stresses they face are eerily similar to the reasons millions of people have quit their jobs over the last two years:
Additional Responsibilities – Over the years, companies have saddled employees with additional responsibilities. In an attempt to maximize profits, employees are expected to do more.
Inadequate Time & Resources – When employers give their workers additional responsibilities without adequate time and resources to meet them, they leave employees overwhelmed by too much work they know they cannot get done.
Insufficient Pay – A lot of employees who have left their jobs over the last two years are unsatisfied with their pay. They believe they are not being paid commensurate with the work they are expected to do.
Questions of Loyalty – If nothing else, the pandemic brought the loyalty question to the forefront. Employers expect their workers to be loyal to the company, but how loyal are they to their workers? Employees are beginning to question loyalties on both sides.
Overcoming the Great Resignation will require a monumental effort by employers. That effort begins with an honest look at employee grievances. Even if an employer does not agree with the criticisms leveled by unhappy workers, it does no good to ignore or gloss things over. Employee perceptions are driving the Great Resignation. They need to be addressed.
Rethink How Business Is Done
Companies hoping to weather the Great Resignation without too much damage must rethink how business is done. They need to honestly ask why employees are leaving, then come up with legitimate solutions to their problems. If that means reducing profits, so be it.
Perhaps the entire Great Resignation issue can be summed up in a term we have been using for decades: human resources. Workers are human beings with lives, families, and responsibilities outside of work. They are not resources to be used like so many tools on a manufacturing line. Maybe the best thing we can do to end the Great Resignation is start treating employees like people again.