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Is the ‘Great Resignation’ finally Getting Companies to Take Burnout Seriously?

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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Organizations across the world have been baffled by the Great Resignation trend and everyone has been trying to figure out the cause behind this. Initially, it was the lure of high salaries that was positioned as the most diabolical suspect behind this trend. However, it was then discovered that people continued to leave despite high salaries.

There was enough compelling data right from the initial days of the pandemic that suggested that workplace burnout was accelerating. We just did not notice the numbers until they translated into this event. While the lure of high salaries is an undeniable reason for attrition, the Great Resignation is telling us that employees are demanding something entirely different. They have been overworked and undervalued and simply are not getting access to the workplace experience that would leave them fulfilled. People are now gravitating towards more value-driven ecosystems or towards those companies that embraced values that mattered to them. Because they can. 

For a long time, the language of pay, and benefits like work-from-home were critical for employees. However, the language of the employees has changed. Today, they are speaking the language of value and shared purpose. They want to know if they are valued as individuals if they matter. They are keen to know if the organization reflects the values they want to associate with. And they are also willing to leave behind great careers to find meaning and value.

This has also been because the pandemic has made people reevaluate their lives and the choices that they have made. It has given them the time to see how they work. Most importantly it has allowed the workforce to decide that in the wake of all the hardships, illness and death experienced over the past year, they do not want to return to backbreaking work that does not offer them value or does not value them.

Studies also suggest that workers are no longer on their back heels. It is now a worker’s market. They are empowered and are now in a position to make organizations listen to their demands. While great pay and benefits are definitely going to be important, organizations have to now pay close attention to what their employees need.

The path ahead

Just like we conduct CPR for an emergency, organizations now need a CPR strategy to stop losing great employees and attract them as well. CPR is exercised in critical situations. The situation in the world of work is nothing short of critical. In this narrative, CPR would stand for connection, positioning, and resetting.

Building Connections

It is time for organizations to identify what people connect with; what is it that they value? What are they seeking? There are enough TikTok videos out there that give us some insight into the perils of workers albeit with humor. The jokes almost always are about toxic workplaces, lacking equity, poor inclusion, hustle-culture and poor bosses.

People have been exhausted, isolated, and burnt out. Their managers have not been able to support them in the manner that they desire. Organizations also have been focused more on business continuity and keeping the lights on, rather than focusing on well-being.

Given the amount of change that we have had to endure as a society, there are bound to be some repercussions. The Great Resignation is one of them. However, to combat it, organizations have to become more human and build an environment that is conducive to growth and mental health collectively.

The focus has to now shift towards building a better understanding of the employees and providing them with enablement at work when it happens. Managers and leaders also have to upgrade their skillset to meet the needs of this new world of work where virtual teams and teams working from the office work cohesively.

Position Goals

Growth is a significant motivator. We now know that employees now value growth opportunities more than fancy perks. With the coming of the hybrid workplace, the growth prospects seem to become ambiguous. What will the new corporate culture look like? Will it be cohesive and bonds the entire organization together or will there emerge two separate cultures?

Building clarity, equity, and inclusion will be of paramount importance to battle the Great Resignation. 

  • Organizations have to now help employees identify and position their goals more effectively. 
  • They have to become more invested in driving learning opportunities and helping employees excel. 
  • They have to use data-backed strategies to identify skill gaps of both technical and critical skills and provide the necessary learning opportunities.

In this hybrid workplace, manager-lead coaching will also play a significant role to ensure that goals are appropriately positioned. The transition from boss to virtual leader has to happen sooner than later to drive employee engagement and elevate the employee experience.

Reset Expectations

Resetting expectations from employees and what is expected of them is perhaps one of the hardest challenges organizations must navigate today. The old, traditional formats of leading organizations have to now undergo a step change. Traditional understandings, mindsets, and ideas of productivity will need an instant upgrade.

Factoring in greater objectivity, empathy, and understanding and developing an organization-wide emotional vocabulary will be inevitable for those wanting to ride out waves like the Great Resignation.

The employees have their eyes glued on what organizations are committing and how they are acting. As such, organizations must also become more sincere in their DIEB initiatives and ensure that they focus on instilling a sense of belonging in their workforce. For this, addressing unconscious biases and social conditioning will become essential.

Organizations have to also identify how they can connect and invest in their people. Leaders are having a difficult time evaluating channels to build connections in less time.

The focus now on will lie in ‘value’ – employees will be seeking value in every organizational aspect. And organizations have to deliver value at every touchpoint; from every interaction to employee benefits, nothing can be devoid of value anymore.

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