Winning the "Great Resignation"
April 12, 2022
In the Spring of 2021, Texas A&M professor of management Anthony Klotz noticed a major trend in employment data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In April of that year, for the first time in history, over 4 million workers in the United States voluntarily quit their jobs....in a single month!
Over the next seven months, this record would be broken five more times, peaking in November at 4,510,000 worker "quits".
Professor Klotz started calling this wave of resignations.... the "Great Resignation", and the newly coined term went viral. (1)
Calling this the "Great Resignation" was apropos, but what were some of the reasons for this phenomenon?
Show Me the Money
According to research conducted by career counseling provider Zety, the number one reason given by employees for leaving their job during the Great Resignation was low pay (67% of those surveyed).
This finding was confirmed by a more recent Pew Research study from early 2022, finding that 63% identified low pay as their number one reason.
Eighty-three percent (83%) of those surveyed by Zety indicated that they already had a job lined up when they left, meaning the huge demand by employers to fill empty positions certainly contributed to the tsunami wave of those quitting.
Finding another job was easier than it had ever been for almost every employee, and that remains the situation today.
Interestingly, 54% of respondents said they quit because they saw their colleagues quitting.
The Zety research showed that discontent with low pay was not a reason given by just those earning the lowest wages. Those earning $75,000 or more ranked this issue just as highly as those earning less than $25,000.
54% of respondents said they quit because they saw their colleagues quitting.
Is the Grass Really Greener?
With the wave of the Great Resignation easing a bit, but still appearing to have room to run, a few studies have started to find that not all employees are happy with their change of employer.
The job search site the Muse, in a March 2022 study, found that almost three-quarters (72%) of workers who had changed jobs recently realized, "to their surprise or regret — that the position or company was very different from what they were led to believe."
Of these employees, almost half (48%) said they would try to get their old job back if they felt the position, and/or company, was not as described by employers during the hiring process.
Kathryn Minshew, founder of the Muse, coined a new term for this bait and switch by employers. She calls it "shift shock".
Minshew told FOX Business that "shift shock" is "this really damaging phenomenon where people are brand new in [their] role, and they suddenly realize it’s not at all as advertised.”
“They’ll join a new company thinking it’s their dream job and then there’s a reality check.”
What Do Employees Want?
According to a 2021 Gallup poll, almost half (46%) of the US workforce is now comprised of Millennials and Gen Z (born between 1980 and 2001), so knowing what they're looking for from an employer is important to business owners.
Zety asked Gen Z workers "what qualities they believe make a company an appealing employer", and found the following:
1 Have a good work-life balance (67%)
2 Company values that match their own (62%)
3 Have a purpose for being that goes beyond merely making a profit (61%)
4 Plentiful career development and progression opportunities (59%)
5 Strong brand reputation (49%)
If you're a small business owner, you might be asking yourself if you can offer any of these things.
A recent article in The Guardian pondered this question and suggested, "The reality is that unless you’re working for a global giant like Amazon or Google...most [small] businesses will struggle to meet all these demands. Working for a small business can be rewarding, fun and more flexible than at a larger organization. But in the end, we’re just a business."
I wholeheartedly disagree!
Small businesses can absolutely compete with large corporations, and win, in the battle for employees during the Great Resignation, and long after it's ended.
By becoming Freedom Focused!
CAN Compete...and WIN!
In the middle of the rebuild of my company, we were hiring a new accounting manager, following the hiring process I now call "Dream Team Builder".
Our job ad included a summary of our vision for the future, so applicants knew walking in the door where we were headed as an organization, and could see how they fit in.
It also included our core values, listed right in the ad along with an action statement for each, so applicants would know what we stood for, believed in, and what would be expected of them as a member of our team.
As we conducted our interviews, I clearly remember one applicant commenting how surprised they were, and impressed, that such a small company as ours had created a vision and clarified our core values. She had only seen that in the larger companies she had worked for and been interviewing with.
My response to this was, "there's no reason why a small company can't act and do exactly the same as larger companies." And we did!
Check off number's 2 and 3 from Zety's list above.
In my last article, I talked about the importance to small business owners of "living their life rather than living their business", and how we made time off from work for rejuvenation a priority at my company.
Check off number 1 also.
In my article, "A Missed Opportunity for Increased Employee Engagement!", I outlined my employee review process which includes goal setting around each employee's career development aspirations with our company, and even beyond our company.
Check off number 4.
Lastly, as I said to my team on a regular basis, because we don't manufacture any product, as a service company, all we have is our reputation for clients to trust and rely on.
Our core values embodied the most important ingredients to our reputation, including honesty and integrity, trust and reliability, expertise, professionalism, and leadership. We lived these values every day, and it created a stellar reputation for D.R. Wastchak, LLC in our industry.
Check off number 5!
With each of these elements firmly in place, I was able to successfully compete with all other businesses for the best employees, build my "Dream Team", and make D.R. Wastchak a Freedom Focused business.
Focus on Freedom!
Being Freedom Focused has nothing to do with the size of your organization.
It has everything to do with a business owner's commitment to building a company that operates at the Freedom to Exit level of freedom and achieving greater personal and professional freedom for the owner as well as for those on the team.
Every small business owner can and should make this commitment. In doing so they will most definitely be...
Focused on their freedom!
Listen to the podcast episode: #022 Winning the "Great Resignation"