Navigating through the Great Resignation and the Aftermath

Navigating through the Great Resignation and the Aftermath

Three Great R’s. And now the Fourth.

It began with the Great Reset of employment terms. Alongside happened the Great Reshuffle. And even as organisations battle the Great Resignation, a new R is rumbling on the horizon.

The Great Return. Or what is being called the Boomerang – the phenomenon is used to describe the return of employees who had left earlier.

Every organisation and leader has had to confront and is being challenged to navigate through this biggest churn in the employment landscape.

Evolution of the Crisis

The Great Resignation wave swept across countries, economies, and sectors in the last 18-24 months as more people than at any other time in history started calling it quits. Few were willing to tolerate meaningless jobs and insensitive bosses anymore.

As Derek Thompson pointed out in The Atlantic. Quitting was a concept typically associated with losers and loafers. But this level of quitting is really an expression of optimism that says, we can do better.

It was not to be dismissed as atypical over-reaction and fad. By eliminating the office as a physical presence in many (but not all!) families’ lives, the pandemic may have downgraded work as the centrepiece of their identity.

History provides strong clues on how churns of this nature resulted in significant outcomes.

Like how the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 lead to a massive architectural revolution that contributed to the invention of the skyscraper in Chicago. And one of the most important scientific legacies of World War II apart from bombs, weapons, or manufacturing was the accelerated development of penicillin and flu vaccines.

If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it is that employees are tired and seeking a renewed and revised sense of purpose in their work. They are craving better social and interpersonal connections with their colleagues and managers and want to feel a sense of shared identity and make meaningful connections.

War for Talent

This phenomenon expectedly had led to a talent war during the last year. Crazy counter offers, massive offer dropouts, higher attrition, significant salary jumps had hogged the limelight. Attrition in the Indian IT companies hit a two-decade high of 21%.  A sudden spurt in job opportunities and fierce competition for acquiring talent is on.

All these factors make the Great Resignation phenomenon one of the toughest phases for leaders and organisations to manage.

What choices do leaders have at times like this?

  1. These are times when Leaders just cannot sit back thinking – ‘let us throw money and sort this out. All out efforts have to be made to engage the employees with meaningful, well-paid, and safe roles.
  2. Leaders at all levels must engage in open and honest communication about workplace changes, policies, and other issues. Never before has the ability of the corporate leader to communicate with empathy has been more tested.
  3. Leaders must avoid thinking through their next moves in a vacuum and include their employees in the process and look to them to help shape the plans and solutions.

And most importantly, Leaders must prioritize developing themselves and their teams to deal with the hybrid ways of working which has become the new norm.  

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