The earlier months of the pandemic saw younger workers moving from mostly service-based industries to better paying positions or relying on government subsidies in what has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. Since then the US has begun to see a shift towards older workers mostly in permanent positions, particularly knowledge workers, resigning in what is now being dubbed ‘The Great Midlife Crisis’ by Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky. He says, “At the midpoint of life, we become aware of our own mortality, and it allows us to reflect on what really matters to us.” The pandemic has amplified this phenomenon. Dan Springer, the CEO of DocuSign, suggests that leaders are looking at this in the wrong way and that it should be reframed as what can businesses do to attract staff instead of what can they do to stop them from leaving in the first place. He calls this ‘The Great Embrace’.
Why is it important?
Quirky, novelty benefits such as sleep pods and ping pong tables are less important to workers in the current post-pandemic landscape. People are resigning for more substantial benefits such as flexibility and meaning. The cost of failing to understand the needs of the workforce is a loss of access to the best and brightest talent. Employees will resign in the search for better benefits or meaning, and new employees may be difficult to attract. Mandating that workers return to the office, for example, has been facing a backlash from employees, the vast majority of whom, according to research, prefer more flexibility.
What can businesses do about it?
Businesses need to clearly understand what their employees need and offer them benefits accordingly; the most significant one being added flexibility. Consider a more hybrid approach instead of mandating employees back to the office, and offer employees the support they need to work effectively remotely. The pandemic has given people a taste of remote work and employees are not ready to give this up. Workers are choosing companies whose mission aligns with their personal values. Businesses should consider taking a stand on important societal issues which will attract and retain staff who support these causes. Overall, being supportive of a healthy work life balance will go a long way towards keeping employees happy.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: Alex Green