Recently I asked a group of people WHY they think the great resignation is happening.
The answer two of them gave was: unemployment benefits are more generous so people are choosing not to work, just get $$ mailed to them from the government.
This is 💯 FALSE.
First, unemployment benefits (at least federally) are back down to the bare minimum. And studies show that people receiving unemployment have trouble making basic ends meet - meaning, rent, mortgage, food.
This isn't a post to bash unemployment (though personally I'm all for a universal basic income to level the playing field - having shelter and enough food to maintain your health are basic human rights. /soapbox).
It's to make the point that, when millions of Americans month after month choose to quit their jobs without having another job set up, it means they are MISERABLE at work.
It's time for a reset.
First, let’s be real - the “great resignation” is not hype. And it’s not about unemployment benefits.
In April 2021, more than 4 million workers left their jobs. Another 4.3 million left in August, just a few months later. (And it’s not like nobody left in between.)
These are huge numbers of people to voluntarily change jobs within a month; and after covid led to millions of people being laid off it was a truly astounding number. Logically, you would think that after covid brought so much uncertainty, people would seek stability and want to stay in their jobs.
Perhaps you don’t currently know anyone who has changed jobs. Trust me, that does not mean your company or industry are not affected. A survey conducted this summer found that more than two-thirds of working adults were considering career changes - not just looking for a new employer, but a wholesale change in the type of work they do - from lawyer to yoga teacher, for example, or from yoga teacher to retail worker, perhaps.
There is a clear pandemic effect here: People are itching to do something different. People are itching to not return to “normal,” because the ways that normal did not work for them became really obvious once we were (mostly) forced to just stop everything.
Or at least stop doing things as we had been:
It’s also true that, for over a decade before the pandemic, talent acquisition and workplace culture experts knew that most employees are not engaged at work.
Quick review: Being engaged at work means feeling highly committed to the company, the substance of your work, and the people with whom you work.
For me, the fact that so many people are choosing to leave comes down to a basic combination of reasons that we all ought to have seen coming!
→ Why stay at a place when you don’t even know what your manager expects of you?
Oh, and all those numbers are pre-covid... and you wonder why most workers want to work from home at least part-time? It's a way to find some peace while working in an environment where communication isn't clear!
Managers can and must do better.
To crack the engagement code, my best recommendation is to truly care about and seek to serve your employees - and show it. Schedule your one-on-one chats and make sure your employees understand that this is their time to connect with you, to ask for help and advice, or just to learn more about each other. Ask questions about where they want their career to go, at least every month, not just during performance reviews or because they bring it up.
You don’t have to have the answers - you need to ask the questions.
I’ll be covering the following questions in an upcoming online workshop about engaging employees, one of the basic elements of building a happier work culture:
This live, online, interactive workshop is the second in a series examining the keys to building a happier, more engaged, more productive workforce. I've got 14 spots left in the workshops - save your spot now.