Amer­i­can com­pa­nies are at a seri­ous cross­roads right now because of an unex­pect­ed con­se­quence of COVID-19 known as the “Great Res­ig­na­tion.”

CNBC report­ed ear­li­er this sum­mer that four mil­lion peo­ple had quit their jobs. This would be shock­ing under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, yet these peo­ple quit sta­ble jobs in the mid­dle of a glob­al pandemic.

The major­i­ty of these res­ig­na­tions occurred in retail, pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices, trans­porta­tion, ware­hous­ing, and util­i­ties. And in terms of geog­ra­phy, work­ers were more like­ly to quit in the South­ern, Mid­west­ern, or West­ern regions of the Unit­ed States.

What caused this to hap­pen? Ana­lysts say it’s been in the works for years, and COVID-19 sim­ply gave dis­sat­is­fied work­ers a moment to reflect on their situations.

Peo­ple have repri­or­i­tized their lives as a result of COVID-19, putting more of their time and effort into per­son­al expe­ri­ences and fam­i­ly time.

Oth­er employ­ees took advan­tage of the quar­an­tine to leave low-wage jobs or com­pa­nies they believed were tak­ing advan­tage of them. Remote work has also flour­ished over the past two years.

Employ­ers are now pan­ick­ing about how to bring these peo­ple back, or at the very least, find suit­able replace­ments. This blog will cov­er some of the changes com­pa­nies should make to sur­vive the “Great Resignation.”

Change How You Treat Employees

Data from a 2019 sur­vey of 11 mil­lion work­ers nar­rowed down three rea­sons for the “Great Res­ig­na­tion,” each relat­ed to how com­pa­nies treat­ed their employ­ees and their work environment.

A lack of work­place com­mu­ni­ca­tion frus­trat­ed enough employ­ees to con­sid­er leav­ing their posi­tion. They seek more trans­paren­cy in a new job, as well as a sense of belonging.

Oth­er respon­dents said they were con­cerned about the man­ag­er-employ­ee rela­tion­ship. Specif­i­cal­ly, they said man­agers need­ed to acknowl­edge their work more and serve as reli­able inter­me­di­aries between them and the organization.

Many frus­trat­ed employ­ees also said they were leav­ing tox­ic envi­ron­ments that held them and the com­pa­ny back from reach­ing its full poten­tial. They want­ed com­pa­ny lead­er­ship to address the issues and offer more flex­i­bil­i­ty with remote or hybrid options.

Morale Does Matter— And It’s Your Responsibility

A large share of res­ig­na­tions this year came from work­ers on edge in their tox­ic work­places or con­tin­u­al­ly feel­ing burnt out with­out any relief. Work­ing from home dur­ing the quar­an­tine gave them time to think about what they real­ly want­ed in their career.

What is a tox­ic work­place exact­ly? It’s a com­pa­ny that puts mon­ey or suc­cess over the needs of its employ­ees. Prof­its are impor­tant in busi­ness but noth­ing is sus­tain­able if employ­ees aren’t in a healthy mind frame.

Here are some com­mon signs of a tox­ic workplace:

● Employ­ees are over­worked and underpaid
● Man­age­ment rules with fear and they aren’t con­cerned with staff well-being
● Ver­bal abuse or sex­u­al harass­ment in the office
● Employ­ees aren’t rec­og­nized for good work and made to feel guilty for not tak­ing on new projects
● Zero account­abil­i­ty companywide

Healthy work envi­ron­ments and employ­ee morale start at the top. It’s impor­tant for com­pa­ny lead­er­ship to estab­lish and main­tain a pos­i­tive cul­ture for everyone.

Oth­er­wise, employ­ees will be mis­er­able, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty will plum­met, and there will be high turnover rates.

Stay Competitive With Salaries & Benefits

Although mon­ey isn’t the pri­ma­ry fac­tor behind the “Great Res­ig­na­tion,” enhanc­ing salary and ben­e­fits could entice some employ­ees back.

Work­ers now have more options and pow­er in their job search­es than ever before. There is a sur­plus of tal­ent. If you want to recruit the best, you’ll need to be will­ing to pay for them.

In fact, a labor mar­ket sur­vey dis­cov­ered the low­est wage work­ers with­out a col­lege degree are will­ing to accept in 2021 is $61,483. That’s a $10,000 increase from the year before.

Prospec­tive employ­ees are also think­ing more about their health ben­e­fits after liv­ing near­ly two years with COVID-19. They want bet­ter pre­ven­ta­tive care, enhanced rela­tion­ships with pri­ma­ry care providers, and men­tal health coverage.

Their focus is on pre­vent­ing dis­ease and ensur­ing that insur­ance plans will cov­er any seri­ous ill­ness­es that do emerge.

Men­tal health ser­vices are at the cen­ter of this trend. Around 60% of employ­ees report­ed feel­ing more stress and anx­i­ety dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, and ther­a­py appoint­ments have sky­rock­et­ed in 2021.

Rethinking Business As Usual

The “Great Res­ig­na­tion” is not hit­ting every indus­try or busi­ness the same, but those who want to weath­er the storm will need to eval­u­ate how they treat employ­ees and what kind of work cul­ture they want to promote.

They can start by tak­ing an “employ­ee-cen­tric” approach to deci­sion-mak­ing and tak­ing full respon­si­bil­i­ty for employ­ee morale.

And while salary shouldn’t be the only rea­son some­one takes a job, there is a grow­ing expec­ta­tion among younger work­ers for high­er salaries and bet­ter health­care benefits.

By Mcken­zie Cassidy

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network