The phenomenon known as “The Great Resignation” has left companies and their leaders wondering what to do. What lessons can we learn from this and how can we revert such tendencies?

Since early 2021, people have been leaving their jobs (or thinking about leaving them) in droves. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 4 million people quit their jobs in July. Resignations shot around April and have continued abnormally high for the past months, particularly among mid-career employees (people between 25 to 45 years of age).

Economists have dubbed this phenomenon the “Great Resignation”. The pandemic has caused a shift in priorities for many workers from different areas, forcing them to think about what they can do to change this. Although 2021 is now drawing to a close and there is still much we can learn about what’s going on, the information we already have allows us to draw relevant conclusions about what companies should do.

What do we know about The Great Resignation?

Experts began to sound the alarm back in June by pointing out research carried by many institutions.  For example, an Achievers Workforce Institute report indicated that 52% of 2000 employees surveyed in the US and Canada planned to look for a new job in the next twelve months. Another study, published by PwC, found that flexibility, adaptability, and paid time off were high on the list of employee demands. If employers failed to comply, most of them were willing to look for opportunities somewhere else.

The Great Resignation is not targeted to a single department, level or role. As Liz Hall, Chief People Officer from Splash, notes, “I have yet talked to someone where this isn’t affecting them.” It is important to note, though, that some industries have been more affected than others. A Harvard Business review article indicated that resignation rates were higher among those industries that experienced an increase in demand and workload. Healthcare and tech are good examples of this, as they’ve presented a spike of 4.5 in comparison to the previous year.

As I mentioned before, resignation rates have had the most significant increase among employees between 25 and 45. Several organizations have noted that high workloads and other pressures may have led many of them to resign. Such a claim is further supported by observing the resignation rate for people in manager roles. As of December 2020, the rate increased 11.8% for this group compared to the previous year. 

The current situation leaves many companies asking themselves a lot of questions, trying to understand what are the main lessons they’ve learned thus far. 

And, exactly, what are they?

Flexible work is a must

The move to remote work, promoted since the beginning of the pandemic, has changed work expectations. In a 2021 study by Microsoft WorkLabs, employees aren’t quitting to look for completely remote positions; they want the best of both worlds. Over 70% of workers want flexible remote work, while 65% are looking for more in-person contact. As a result, many decision-makers are now re-designing physical spaces to accommodate hybrid work environments.

The new dynamics of hybrid work have challenged the way employers and companies view office dynamics and productivity. Offering more flexibility as to when and where employees want to work provides them with more tools to contribute in more equal settings. 

Enable authenticity, spark productivity

Contrary to what most people would think, highly productive teams dedicate time to building interpersonal relationships. Starting a meeting with a bit of chit-chat allows teams to discover what they have in common. This only happens, however, when there is enough space to show our authentic selves. And, if there is something the current situation has fostered, is a glimpse of our shared vulnerability. 

Employees can now observe a more human side from their coworkers: their living rooms, family members, curious pets, and daily struggles. In the same Microsoft report, for example, one in six people have reported crying with a fellow colleague. These interactions help create workplaces where people feel comfortable, resulting in stronger work relationships, higher productivity, and overall well-being.

Younger generations know what they want

Most reports cited here have noted that workers aged 20 to 25 are most resistant to quit. High turnover rates are most common for ages 25 and over, and Generation Z workers have proven immune to such trends. This doesn’t mean that the population is at risk, though. People within this age group have reported struggling with creating a good workplace at home and balancing work life. 

Because of such risks, most Gen Zers are drawn to the flexibility of hybrid work, as they are also interested in building professional relationships in the office. When provided with the right environment, new generations can offer a fresh perspective on the nature of work. 

Innovation requires strong communication networks

To create a truly innovative product, teams begin by identifying the problem through the eyes of others. Then, through a constant iteration of design and experimentation, a business can achieve a product of unique value. At the onset of the pandemic, Microsoft WorkLabs also revealed that their work teams reduced their interaction with distant networks. As teams become more siloed in a digital work world, it’s harder for new ideas to get in.

There are many solutions to this. Hybrid work, as I’ve mentioned before, may help revive these networks. Also, working with nearshore software development teams help establish new communication channels with distant networks. 

Leaders must look for ways to foster teamwork and idea-sharing in a world where digital communication can, ironically, lead to isolation. At Blankfactor, we understand that our strong focus on cross-team collaboration is the key to innovative products. To us, agile engineering teams support more transparent communication, stronger synergies better end results.

The Great Resignation is not only overhauling the workforce; it also challenges leaders and companies to create work environments that foster employee retention, creativity, and innovation. As Forbes Councils Member Robyn Bolton mentioned, the future workplace can be designed “by engaging with employees to understand their concerns, collaborating to create solutions and learning and adjusting alongside them.”

We know that great teams are based on solid communication, a thorough understanding of what the employees want, and the willingness to create solutions that foster creativity and innovation. Our low attrition rate is a testament to such a philosophy. If you’re interested in developing your career in fintech along with supportive co-workers and leaders, visit our Careers page.  

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