For the last few months, many employers have been scratching their heads wondering why their employees have joined a new movement: the Great Resignation. This trend peaked in April 2021, just over a year after the beginning of most COVID-19 lockdowns. Over the past several months, resignation rates have remained abnormally high.
You may be thinking, “Yes, I know. I’ve read the articles about millions of people resigning. But why?” Fear not! I have the answers you seek — was that too cryptic? Anyway, moving on.
This past summer, large tech companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google began their plans to return to office life. The plan for Apple, among other companies, was to make the big leap this fall. This, as most of us know, didn’t happen. As it has shown time and time again, COVID-19 doesn’t really care about anyone’s plans.
For many employees around the world, there was a little relief coupled with the anxiety of moving return-to-office dates. Employees had gotten used to working from home, to wearing sweatpants and a nice top on Zoom meetings, to taking their kiddos to school then returning home to finish their cup of coffee before logging on for the day. A return to the office threatened that routine. So, the next step? “No, thanks. I resign.”
You’ve updated your plans. You’ve got a return date in early 2022. That’s exciting...right? Maybe. You have to truly understand: Are you sure that’s what your employees want? If your answer is anywhere close to “no” or “not sure,” then you need to have a back-up plan. With whatever works best for your company, it is crucial you maintain open and transparent communication with your employees. Ask for their feedback, take it seriously, then share with them why your company has made this decision. Make them feel like they are part of the process.
Whew! That last explanation took a lot of time. This next one doesn’t require as much backstory.
Spending the day at home gave employees the opportunity to think critically about their companies and their culture. Realizing their dissatisfaction at their findings, they resigned. As communicators, we don’t always get to make all of the decisions, and that’s okay. One of the solutions to this problem is within our reach and may sound familiar: open and transparent communication. (No, you aren’t experiencing deja vú.) Open the line of communication with employees and encourage them to be honest about how they feel. You can’t fix the problems you don’t see. You can work toward a positive culture shift by showing your company’s willingness to address the true issues your employees have shared.
Are you still with me? Good! Between COVID-19 and working in the same environment as they live, it’s no surprise that burnout for employees played a large part in the Great Resignation. I mean, 42% of women and 35% of men said they have felt burned out always or almost always in 2021. Though tackling burnout is a larger opportunity than communications teams can take on, we can help identify those reasons and lend an ear.
It’s the recurring theme of this blog! Open and transparent communications with your employees about their wellbeing and being open to hearing the phrase “burn out” will be a lifeline in this churning sea of crazy we call 2021.
Open and transparent communication. Open and transparent communication. Open and transparent communication. As communications professionals, that is the key to our success and to a company’s success. The Great Resignation is just another challenge we face. It’s no different. Think about what your communications look like, and if you can’t remember the exact words, maybe swing by the nearest tattoo parlor, because that’s one tattoo that will never go out of style.