Lead Image © ismagalov and Daniil Peshkov, 123RF.com

Lead Image © ismagalov and Daniil Peshkov, 123RF.com

The Great Resignation


Article from ADMIN 66/2021
The upside and downside of the post-pandemic employment trend.

If you've noticed some job churn at your company, it's all part of a new trend called "The Great Resignation," wherein a high number of employees are changing jobs or quitting altogether to start businesses. It's a crazy thing to see unemployment low and a lot of jobs available and an excellent opportunity for those of you who feel stuck, underpaid, or underappreciated. Dust off that résumé and make yourself known on LinkedIn. You won't have to wait long before recruiters begin to contact you for a lot of really great positions that you didn't know existed. It's fun to kick the tires and see what's out there, and you never know, you just might end up taking on a new challenge that meets all of your expectations.

The Great Resignation indeed provides opportunities for those who want to go for them, but downsides exist, and they are significant. The first downside is that for those of us left behind, life becomes difficult. Managers become paranoid, coworkers become paranoid, spouses become paranoid, and things generally go downhill from there. Those left behind must take on unfinished work, spend hours unraveling cryptic notes, and attempt to continue their work positively. It isn't easy.

Another problem is that those left behind wonder what kind of fantastic salaries and perks their former coworkers now enjoy. At the same time, they strive to maintain productivity in the midst of a sea of paranoia and suspicion.

The second downside is that it's driving salaries up. That doesn't seem like a bad thing, does it? It is a downside for the companies that have to pay those higher salaries, although some would argue that C-level executive salaries have been out of step with worker salaries for many years. I agree. CXOs make millions while the people who bear the brunt of the business continuity responsibility make five figures. However, we all know that those at the top of the corporate pyramid rarely care about those at the bottom. As salaries rise, executives begin making plans to lower costs by dumping higher cost workers for those living in lower cost locations rather than adjusting those very high salaries and perks at the top end of the scale.

I remember attending a town hall talk a few years ago where a C-Level executive lauded the advantages of hiring offshore workers to replace high-cost, entitled, US-based employees. We all just looked at each other, whispering "Good luck with that" to each other. They did it anyway. It hurt their businesses, their reputations, and their bottom lines, but they didn't care because their executive salaries weren't negatively affected. Now that The Great Resignation is in full bloom, they're reaping what they've sown, and it's about time. It's now what I call The Great Payback, and I predicted it years ago.

I've heard that another downside of higher salaries is that it drives up costs for everyone. That seems not to be the case, just as hiring a gaggle of offshore workers didn't lower prices for customers or consumers.

I'm happy with The Great Resignation, and I was a participant in it, having recently changed jobs. Many years ago, after several town hall talks, I decided that another company would never again abuse me, and since that time, I have moved on when my situation became less than desirable.

The upsides are equally as powerful as the downsides. First, it sends the message to senior management that workers have options. Second, every person who leaves a company provides opportunities for others, including entry-level folks who need a good start. The Great Resignation has also taught leaders that diversity and inclusion are necessary to maintain a healthy workforce. Many companies have created entire structures around diversity and inclusion because the stodgy corporate minds have finally evolved their thinking and realized that workforce productivity and innovation don't have a gender, an age, a sexual orientation, or a skin color.

My message to corporate America is this: The Great Resignation isn't going to hurt you; it's going to help you. It's not over. It's part of the evolution of our species. Figure out how to retain your workforce and change with the times, or find yourself on the short end of The Great Resignation.

Ken Hess * ADMIN Senior Editor

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