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Viewpoint - Bob Gershberg - January 2022

The Great Resignation

by Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner Wray Executive Search

The Great Resignation has hit us by storm. 4.5 million left their jobs in November 2021. This trend is expected to continue through the first half of 2022. About 23% of employees will seek new jobs in 2022, while 9% have already secured a new position according to a recent poll. This work revolution or reset is about taking control of work and personal life, a clear empowerment for workers that will not diminish anytime soon.

The media discussion around the cause of the Great Resignation focuses on wage dissatisfaction. A recent MIT Sloan Management Review article provides a more data driven explanation. The research uncovered five lead predictors of high rates of attrition:

  1. Toxic corporate culture

  2. Job insecurity and reorganization

  3. High levels of innovation (causing burn out)

  4. Failure to recognize performance

  5. Poor response to Covid-19

Compensation ranked #16.

Flexible work arrangements will become the norm and the path to glory for employers. The trend towards accommodating work culture and better work-life balance has moved forward at light speed. As, too, has the trend towards automation.

There are some viable steps we can take to moderate the impact of this trend. First, we must gauge the retention risk that our firms face. Replace exit interviews (sorry, it is too late) with stay interviews to find out what keeps employees. Understanding your firm’s vulnerability to other employers is also key. When behemoths like Amazon or Walmart raise wages or add perks, the effects ripple throughout.

Leaders need to pull different levers to retain different types of people. Salaries matter to everyone but for lower-wage workers in particular, benefits like health care have also become essential. A recent survey of young employees by Jefferies found that health concerns were the prime reason why people with only a high-school education had quit their jobs. For white-collar employees the split between office and home is what counts. For blue-collar workers, single parents especially, scheduling matters—when their shifts start and end, and how much flexibility they have to manage their time. We also need to think harder about the career paths that entry-level employees can take. Know your workforce capabilities.

Managers should plan for how to find new workers. Remote working makes it easier to lose people but also to bring freelancers on board quickly. Qualification demands may need to be relaxed. In recent years, IBM has removed the requirement for undergraduate degrees from over half of its US job openings.

The Great Resignation is sure to test our mettle. Patience, pro-active planning and steadfast perseverance will get us to the promised land!

Be well! Stay safe!

All the best,

Bob Gershberg |CEO|Managing Partner|

727 244-4113

Finding tomorrow’s leaders today!

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