I heard about "The Great Resignation", a term coined by Anthony Klotz, a business professor at Texas A&M University, only a few weeks ago. Here in the United Kingdom, we also have other issues we have to deal with right now, like the fallout of Brexit, the lorry driver visa debacle, and now the resulting fuel shortage. So I wasn't paying close attention to the US job market. At first, I couldn't make sense of the two happening simultaneously. But the more I read about it, the more I worry about how enterprises and large organizations will manage their IT in the coming two to three years.
I had just talked to a good acquaintance of mine who, despite being an incredibly talented and experienced IT professional, was let go as part of a larger layoff in a global organization. It had struck me as off because, in the current situation, most large organizations are scrambling to hire more resources to stem the increasing tide of IT change coming in the next 24 months!
So, today, I want to take a moment to talk about what this trend is, how it could affect your organization, and what you can do about it.
What Is The Great Resignation?
If you haven't already, I highly recommend you read the NYT article "Welcome to the YOLO Economy: Burned out and flush with savings, some workers are quitting stable jobs in search of postpandemic adventure" as well as the Forbes article "‘The Great Resignation’: Why Gen Z Is Leaving The Workforce In Droves…And What To Do About It".
But what it comes down to is this: The world has changed during the pandemic. Employees who have been working from home for the past 18 months either refuse to come back to the office or threaten to resign if they are forced. They feel unfulfilled in their job and are looking to change direction, or retire and finally enjoy life.
Whether these changes are driven by not wanting to commute, being able to spend more time with friends and family, or looking to do something entirely different, a world that is turned topsy-turvy seems a good time to make a jump. For many, their willingness to take the leap and risk everything is cushioned by a more disposable income created by the soaring real estate prices and staying at home for 18 months.
All of this establishes a situation reflected in the following facts:
- In April 2021, four million people quit their jobs in the United States alone, according to the Labor Department. This is a record number — and it all happened during the worst recession in US history.
- 56% of the 18–to-24-year-old respondents in an Adobe survey are planning to switch jobs in the next year.
- According to a Microsoft report, 54% of Gen-Z's are thinking about quitting their job.
- 40-49% (depending on which study you look at) of IT professionals are going to quit their jobs by the end of 2022.
Obviously, this much turnover resulted, in some industries, in twice as many open positions as there are applicants, causing a lack of skilled resources. Consequently, this leads to massive uncertainties regarding how you will manage your present priorities such as Digital Transformation projects and migrating to Windows 11 (which will, for most, bring with it an onslaught of other projects such as a hardware refresh and an application management overhaul).
How Can You Minimize The Impact On Your Organization?
In economically uncertain and politically unstable times, people are trying to make sense of it all by rethinking their lives and their roles in both society and the workplace. As they reflect, your employees are weighing the benefits and disadvantages of their current situation. They reflect on the purpose of their work. They feel much stronger about the experience they have during the workday. As an executive or manager, consider these questions:
- PURPOSE. Does every employee understand the mission of our company? Do they stand behind that mission or simply see their job as a necessity to get a paycheck? People are looking for meaning and purpose in their lives and they will jump ship if they feel they are just doing busywork without an apparent purpose.
- EQUITY, DIVERSITY, INCLUSION. Racial justice, diversity, and inclusion matter now more than ever. But how does your company practice this? Is it just talk, or do you walk the talk? What can you do to ensure that everyone feels included and valued as an employee but also as a person?
- HUMAN ASPECT. What kind of benefits are you offering your employees? Do you offer healthcare insurance, on-site childcare, and transportation allowance? Do you do team-building experiences? Many companies are implementing a Week of Rest or Global Reset where a week of vacation is enforced for everybody. Do you offer gym memberships or even have a massage therapist in-house?
- TECHNOLOGY EXPERIENCE. Do you enable a Modern Desktop that provides not only the best technology experience but also unlocks maximum productivity for your employees? Do you push Digital Transformation externally as well as internally?