Yes, millions of people have been quitting their jobs, thus there is logic in calling in the “Great Resignation,” but it startles me that we’re not noticing how incredibly employer-centric that term is. All the employers notice are the resignations, that they “lost” some of their resources.
Well, there’s another name for those resources, and it’s “human beings.” And you’re not “losing” them, because you didn’t own them in the first place. Perhaps we should be examining this phenomenon from the perspective of the humans, because guess what—the humans don’t care about the resignation part. They didn’t wake up and say “I want to quit.” They woke up and said “I want more than what you’re giving me, and quitting will give me the opportunity to find that.”
They care about where they are going next. They realized that the conditions you put on their employment with you were, in fact, unacceptable. They wanted more flexibility, more control, and the ability to work in ways that worked for THEM, not the policy manual. They wanted to collaborate in ways that actually work, rather than being forced to attend an endless series of unproductive meetings. They wanted an office space that is designed with intention about what happens there.
These, in fact, are all very human things to want, which is why Maddie and I wrote about them in our book, Humanize, over a decade ago. But the pandemic fast-tracked these issues. What used to be things that only the really cool organizations did are now becoming table stakes.
If you want to win the Great Resignation, then ignore the resignations and start becoming the destination.
Start embracing the new principles of work. Embrace customization. Design your organization around the needs of employees. Double down on transparency. Be more precise in your definition of collaboration (hint: “meeting” is not the only way to collaborate). Stop listening to the pundits gabbing about how many millions of people quit, and start relishing the fact that millions of people are now looking for organizations that are embracing the evolution of work rather than resisting it.
I don’t think employers are going to get another opportunity like this for a long time, so take advantage of it.