Will Your Company Lose People To ‘The Great Resignation?September 15, 2021
When Covid-19 first struck, everyone knew that there would be lots of change ahead of us. As we adjusted to social distancing rules, mask mandates, and stay-at-home orders, the world around us began to transform. Now, almost two years after we first heard of the pandemic, we’re starting to see another big change come around.
As more and more companies are rushing to “return to normal,” they are running into an unexpected challenge; many people don’t want to go back to the way things were pre-pandemic. Right now, there seems to be a sort of power struggle between the way things were and the way people envision the future, and spoiler alert, it looks like the future has the most support.
You’ve likely already seen stories about this movement, which has recently been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” From fast-food workers quitting by the store-full to an increasing number of people looking to work from home, the labor market is going through renovations, and there are a few things you should probably know.
So What Happened?
Even if you haven’t been following the news stories, you’re probably going to see the effects of The Great Resignation soon. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4 million workers quit their jobs in April 2020 alone. More recent surveys show that number to be closer to 11 million people, and counting. In a fully healthy economy, this often means that there are plenty of jobs available, but that isn’t the case this time around.
In fact, before the movement truly started, the US was still in the middle of a massive recession brought on by the pandemic. Millions of people were already out of jobs, and yet, even more, seem to be leaving by their own choice. As a result, we’re seeing a rapidly increasing labor shortage, and companies are scrambling to make ends meet.
On the surface, The Great Resignation is puzzling and concerning for people who don’t know why it’s happening. However, once you begin to understand some of the reasoning behind people’s choices, this worker shortage will become a whole lot clearer.
A Gap In Values
The truth is, for many people leaving their jobs, it’s been a pretty long time coming. Though the impacts of the pandemic undoubtedly sped up the process, the major issues at the heart of The Great Resignation are not new. Though they don’t encompass the entirety of the movement, three main ideologies have been driving people to leave their jobs:
- Health, Wellness, and Stress
- A Stop to Exploitation
- The Rise of a New Labor Force
Health, Wellness, and Stress
This ideology was the most influenced by the pandemic, and it’s pretty easy to see why. During the height of the pandemic, millions of workers were labeled as “essential” and asked to continue working despite the significant health concerns presented. Problems arose quickly, as millions of employees were not adequately protected or compensated for this dangerous work.
However, The Great Resignation didn’t happen until after the first surge of the pandemic, so what gives? In short, the return to work movement and the Delta Variant.
This spring and summer, we saw businesses try to bring employees back to the offices, as those in charge were almost uniformly against remote work continuing (despite evidence showing equal or increased productivity). With employers pushing for in-person work, despite an overwhelming majority of workers against it, tension was already brewing. Combined with the return of the Delta Variant, and without solid promises of better health care and protection, people finally chose to leave their jobs instead of returning.
A Stop To Exploitation
In the past, economic recessions have often revealed flaws in the labor department. Prior to The Great Resignation, employers held all the power during a downturn in the job market. With people in dire need of work, salaries, and support, employers could do relatively anything they wanted, leading to some severe worker exploitation! Hourly wages would be cut to reduce costs, employees were asked to perform tasks higher than their compensation, and with fewer job openings, there seemed to be no alternative.
This time around though, despite the same conditions as many prior recessions, employees simply had enough. Instead of putting up with an exploitative company and a lack of fair treatment, workers value themselves and their lives first. When faced with unfairness in the workplace, people have simply started to stand up for themselves.
Naturally, this has caused a significant divide in opinion, particularly between generations. Younger generations, such as Generation Z, overwhelmingly support the Great Resignation, as it shows a fight for higher wages and more equality within the workplace. Older generations, on the other hand, such as Baby Boomers, are often on the other side, arguing that the employee shortage stems from laziness or the entitlement of workers who just don’t want to do their job.
The reality is, the workforce is increasingly demanding better rights, protection, and equality, and the companies that are refusing to listen are suffering the most.
The Rise of a New Labor Force
The final ideology fueling The Great Resignation is less of a conscious choice and more of a generational shift. The workforce is ever-changing, and following trends from year to year is complex, but one undeniable thing is the newest influx of workers.
As Generation Z (and to an extent Millennials) becomes an ever-larger fraction of the workforce, we are seeing the values of employees change in real-time. For most of these people, their entire life has been spent watching recessions, climate change, wars, and political strife, with very little power to do anything about it.
Now, however, as millions of job openings are filled by the younger generations, they are working their hardest to make changes. The Great Resignation is putting the pressure back on employers to change with the times.
For example, the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 for a significant chunk of time, despite years of inflation. While some politicians have been pushing for a $15 minimum wage, this number still wouldn’t be livable for a large percentage of people in America. In fact, if minimum wage followed productivity in America, it should be at least $24 by now, if not higher.
With more and more young people pushing for a better work-life balance, higher pay, and better benefits such as provided child care, they put the pressure back on those in charge with clear intentions. It’s either time to change with the era or continue to watch as your employees find a job that values them and their life.
Some Final Advice
So, will your company lose people to The Great Resignation? It’s difficult to say, but one thing is for sure; if you do, it’s time to seriously reevaluate how your business runs. If you won’t provide equality and fundamental rights that employees ask for, don’t expect The Great Resignation to end anytime soon.
At LACOSTA, we appreciate and recognize the team members that work to provide stability and equality in their businesses. Without our team members, our company couldn’t be where it is today. Reach out to us to learn how your business can benefit from a partnership with LACOSTA, or check out our blog for more!