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Employees Are Feeling Empowered After COVID "Great Resignation"

Managers and senior staff must examine the reasons behind why people are quitting, and adjust their practices accordingly.

By Sophie Jarvis I November 11, 2021

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent migration to remote work, have allowed people the perspective to rethink how they want to live their lives, what approach to working suits them, and, most importantly, how they want to be treated. As a result, many have realised that they deserve ​​better treatment in the form of better benefits and pay, shorter commutes, and greater flexibility. In a country where the wellness industry is growing year on year and is on the rise, it should come as no surprise that many employees are choosing to leave jobs that undervalue and exploit them, in order to look after their personal health and wellbeing.

Traditionally, quitting is seen negatively, something reserved for those who are lazy, and failures. However, ‘The Great Resignation’ is, instead, an indication that people are realizing they deserve better, and that profit shouldn’t be prioritized over wellbeing. For many, the pandemic has forced us to reconsider our lives and the way we live them. The necessary removal of freedoms, as the result of multiple lockdowns and travel restrictions, has shown people what it is they value most about life. "We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed," says Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the book Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere. The pandemic has certainly created a shift in the majority’s mindset, and workers are in search of jobs that allow them to prioritize spending their time doing things that bring them happiness.

What does this mean for employers? Well, managers and senior staff must examine the reasons behind why people are quitting, and adjust their practices accordingly, in order to improve employee retention. Ask yourself what it is that could be leading employers to leave your place of work? Exit interviews, if conducted in the right manner, can be useful in helping employers and HR departments understand a worker’s reason for quitting. It could also be useful to examine the demographics of the people who have quit. This can help you to understand workers’ experiences, and how retention rates differ for different groups of people.

When you have identified the root causes of turnover, you can implement policies to help combat resignations. For example, if you find that more women are quitting than men, you may want to examine any gender-based power imbalances in your company setup. Encouraging positive management styles can help employees feel valued in their role, which can help improve employee retention rates. To do this, set clear goals and objectives for your staff, and give more praise and recognition for achievements. Finally, it is vital to ensure that any employee complaints, of whatever nature, are being taken seriously by HR teams and management. From reports of sexual harassment to workplace bullying, it is integral that employees feel heard, and supported.

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