The Great Resignation of 2021 was a global phenomenon, though reportedly less seen in Canada than other developed nations. Employees were—and still are—quitting en masse.
What was first labelled as a labour shortage has turned out to be a much more complex issue, one that can’t quite be surmised by the term Great Resignation. Instead, terms like the Great Adjustment or the Great Reckoning better capture what is a more nuanced conversation about working conditions and employee interests.
The shift is really about employees assessing and rejecting the status quo.
Last year, The BBC reported that a survey found that “41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions”, with another survey finding that “38% of those surveyed planned to quit in the next six months to a year”.
In fact, people are evidently becoming increasingly disillusioneed with the 9 to 5. The Reddit subreddit, r/antiwork, has 1.6 million subscribers as of January 2022, which represents a more than 900 000 increase in 2021. According to Reddit, antiwork “was one of the 15 fastest-growing subreddits as of November 24, 2021”.
Weathering the Great Reckoning means meeting employees' changing needs.
According to a recent report, many Canadian organizations are boosting wages and benefits in response to the labour shortage. However, for many employees, it’s not just about salary. The study noted that “nearly half (46 per cent) of [employers] who say hiring is difficult have increased wages while 27 per cent have increased benefits such as additional vacation time, and 19 per cent have introduced a shorter workweek”.
HR Reporter notes that the key to retention (and recruitment) amidst the Great Reckoning is looking at how you can make your company—jobs at your company more attractive overall. This can be done through a number of improvements: offering “more benefits or flexibility into those jobs, or [rearranging] the job to make it less difficult on people or more sustainable, whether it’s job sharing or different shifts or different flexibility arrangements”.
Employers must examine what factors are likely to push employers out of their organization (low pay, poor work-life balance, lack of community, etc.) and what will pull them to other organizations (better pay, more benefits, different work, etc.). Many of these factors can be addressed but some, unfortunately, cannot.
Your organization will have to determine which employee needs they’re able to meet and prioritize those, with the understanding that employees whose needs aren’t met may decide to leave for a company that does meet or exceed their expectations.