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What Can Employers Do About the Great Resignation?

Sean Duffy

November 23, 2021 · 3 min read
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In 2020, the global pandemic created many challenges for employers as they adapted to a completely new work environment. Remote work became the new norm as organizations quickly developed policies to keep their employees safe. As restrictions began to lift in 2021, employers were faced with yet another unprecedented challenge, The Great Resignation.

According to Forbes, “The great resignation is a mass exodus of people quitting their jobs now that the pandemic is waning.” It’s affecting organizations in almost every sector and industry and has led to millions of employees seeking new opportunities. To quote the late, great country singer Johnny Paycheck, in one month alone a record high of 4.3 million American workers told their employers to ‘take this job and shove it.’

What’s driving employees to quit?

The move to work from home at the start of the pandemic was consistent across organizations. The call to action was clear — working from home was the only way to keep everyone safe.

Employees brought their laptops home. We all learned to live with virtual meeting tools. Our in-office events were replaced with virtual trivia, cooking classes, and other attempts to keep culture and connection going. As weeks turned into months and months turned into years, home offices became real offices. New routines were formed, and employees began to enjoy remote work, especially those who previously endured years of long, unproductive commutes. As pandemic restrictions have loosened, employers started announcing their back to the workplace plans. Millions of employees responded with ‘I quit.’

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Employers aren’t offering remote or hybrid options

The idea of racing out the door to sit in an office from nine to five doesn’t make sense for many employees who enjoyed the flexibility of remote work. A May survey by Morning Consult for Bloomberg News reported that 39% of 1,000 U.S. adults said they would quit if their employers didn’t offer flexible work options.

Organizations that don’t offer remote or hybrid options are the most affected by The Great Resignation. Even organizations that do offer remote and hybrid options are observing a rise in resignations — either for better opportunities or better work experiences.

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It’s not necessarily about the money

According to Forbes, only 12% of employees leave because of money. Contrary to popular belief, many exits come down to a sense of belonging.

During the pandemic, video technology like Zoom kept employees connected. But today, remote employees are finding they cannot connect, contribute, and be recognized for their work at the same level as their in-office colleagues. Why? Their organization doesn’t have the digital workplace tools that they need to do their jobs.

Lack of recognition is another factor influencing employees to quit. Recognition for a job well done is essential to create a sense of belonging in the workplace. Without a defined process and the right tools to foster workplace culture and encourage recognition, employees often feel unappreciated and undervalued.

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Employee burnout

The Great Resignation is also a sign of a growing issue for employees — burnout. According to a report from McKinsey & Co, 42% of women and 35% of men surveyed said they felt burned out at work during the last year. Unfortunately, employee burnout continues to rise.

Multiple factors drive the increased sense of burnout — lack of recognition and resources, feeling unappreciated for their work, and the general stress of managing home life and work during a global pandemic.

What can employers do about The Great Resignation?

Employers seeking to limit the factors that cause employees to pursue new opportunities can start with one simple act — meet your employees where they are, both emotionally and mentally.

Ask questions

If you haven’t communicated your return to the office plan yet, it’s an excellent opportunity to have managers speak with their direct reports to determine their needs. Asking questions about what will make employees feel safe and connected can help create a plan that employees are excited about.

Develop equitable remote and hybrid options

In a story from Forbes, 97% of employees surveyed said they don’t want to return to the office full-time. The future of work is remote — or at least hybrid work. Offering remote and hybrid options that ensure employees feel the same connection and belonging to their in-office peers is critical to keeping employees from seeking new opportunities.

Invest in technology to connect employees no matter where they work

Igloo’s digital workplace solutions connect employees no matter where they sit and provide remote and hybrid workers with the tools they need to be successful. We focus on solving common remote work challenges including communication, collaboration, knowledge management, and culture and engagement. Igloo’s digital workplace solutions not only connect employees to the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, but also serve as a cultural hub for organizations.

Watch the webinar

To learn more about The Great Resignation and how Igloo’s digital workplace solutions can help your organization, watch our latest on-demand webinar, What Employers Can Learn From The Great Resignation, hosted by Igloo Software and featuring Forrester Research.

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