Don’t Be a Victim of the Great Resignation

Published On: August 4, 2021Categories: General Human Resources Articles

[Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Alexandra Levit, workforce and human capital author, analyst, consultant and futurist and Managing Partner of PeopleResults]

By now, you’ve likely heard the term “the great resignation.” Anthony Klotz, a professor at Texas A&M University, coined the term in a May Bloomberg article to refer to the great numbers of workers expected to exit the workforce after the pandemic.

Klotz does his own research, but a recent Microsoft study, the 2021 Work Trend Index, mirrored his findings. Microsoft surveyed more than 30,000 people in 31 countries and analyzed trillions of productivity and labor signals across LinkedIn and Microsoft 365 to forecast the pending workforce departures.

According to Microsoft, over 40 percent of the global workforce are considering leaving their employer this year, 46 percent are planning to make a major pivot or transition, and only 38 percent of employees are thriving in their careers right now. The situation is worse for women. McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 study found that one in three working mothers have considered leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers because of COVID-19.

The Microsoft and McKinsey data suggest that the pandemic led employees to question their priorities and either transition to work they found more meaningful or decrease the focus on their job generally. But while this was certainly a factor, new data from Stanford University illustrated that how companies treated their employees also played a significant role.

According to Stanford, the pandemic had a cascading effect on organizations with unsupportive cultures. Companies that had historically laid people off, decreased compensation, held back promotions, or sacrificed psychological safety to preserve the bottom line engaged in more of these behaviors during COVID-19. Stressed-out employees who might have been disgruntled before were downright disgusted. And now they’re ready to quit.

Interestingly, food service, hospitality and retail – some of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic – are experiencing the most resignations. A “We Quit” sign left on the door of a Nebraska Burger King restaurant after the entire staff walked out really said it all.

As reported by the Washington Post in June, 649,000 retail workers put in their notice in April, the industry’s largest one-month exodus since the Labor Department began tracking this data more than 20 years ago.

The so-called “great resignation” will collide with other demographic factors impacting who is available to work and where – including baby boomer retirement, a small population of midlife employees, and a young worker population plagued by stalled education and career growth. If this doesn’t point to a coming labor shortage, I don’t know what does.

If you’re an HR professional or manager, is there anything you can do to avoid becoming a victim? The answer is yes, and it starts with self-awareness of common employer blind spots.

Please join Rival, formerly SilkRoad Technology and me for a webinar at noon ET to learn what the great resignation and a rapid shift to a job seeker’s market means for your organization. We’ll share war stories and discuss how you can leverage human capital management technology and adjust your employee experience to keep your best people regardless of what disruption comes next!