Great resignation phenomenon

Since April 2021, more than 19 million American employees have quit their jobs, which had an unprecedented impact on the functioning of companies, the market and people's social life - also in the rest of the world.

We have known that the perspective of an employee and employer is usually significantly different, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized and deepened the differences in the perception of work for those two. According to a study made by McKinsey Group, ÔÇťemployers believe that employees leave their jobs or are dissatisfied for a variety of reasons – pay, work-life balance, physical and emotional health. Interestingly, the results showed that while these issues mattered, other aspects played a more important role in fueling the employee exodus.”1

What are the causes of ÔÇ×great resignationÔÇŁ?

The study shows that since April 2021, more than 19 million American employees have quit their jobs, which had an unprecedented impact on the functioning of companies, the market and people’s social life – also in the rest of the world. The main reasons for the resignation indicated in the study are lack of appreciation and recognition by the organization and the superior, lack of a sense of belonging to the company, lack of mental security in the team, lack of potential for career development, as well as low flexibility and autonomy in one’s workspace.

How can employers make people stay?

Companies and their leaders react to this situation with previously developed and proven solutions, such as increasing salaries, allocating bonuses or other benefits. These solutions worked well before the pandemic, but they are not enough now. One of the reasons is that employees have a sense of some kind of transactional relationship with the employer, i.e. “I pay and require, and you must continue to work at the highest level”, which is undoubtedly the legacy of the assumptions of the industrial revolution, the remnant of which is e.g. 5 days week of work. Such an approach may make the employee believe that his real needs are being downplayed or diminished by the company.

Remote work also contributed to the low self-motivation and self-esteem of employees, who often lose the need for strong cooperation with others. They become more “free electrons” – than they work “as part of one organism”, which in turn drives a low sense of belonging to an organization and difficulty in identifying targets.

Consequently, many people quit their jobs without having an alternative solution. They leave claiming that they are professionally burned out. They look for inspiration, social ties and belonging, and when they don’t find it, they just give up. Remuneration, material benefits and benefits are of course important, but more than that, employees want to be appreciated by their organizations and managers. They are looking for interactions, not just transactions.

What should do leader in a current situation?

The current moment requires broadening the leadership competencies of leaders with high communication skills, building mental security and, above all, stimulating deep long-term motivation. These competencies certainly include the entire system of individual work of a manager with an employee, and more precisely how the manager communicates goals, provides feedback, delegates tasks which he develops among his co-workers from key competencies and how he does it. It is also worth reviewing the attitude of the leader in management, e.g. by considering whether he focuses on checking the employee or developing his competencies.

Revolution 4.0 and the social changes that affect work in and after the pandemic require new solutions. Leaders may want or even need to reconsider their management methods and the true nature of their relationships with colleagues because if they don’t, it’s very likely that employees will do it for them – by simply quitting their jobs. Such a review may become an opportunity to build a new quality of cooperation and to acquire and retain the best talents in the organization.

Anna Modrzewska

psychologist, trainer, management communication specialist

1. ÔÇśGreat AttritionÔÇÖ or ÔÇśGreat AttractionÔÇÖ? The choice is yours, September 8, 2021 | Article, McKinsey Quarterly; By Aaron De Smet, Bonnie Dowling, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, and Bill Schaninger

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