“It’s time to reestablish human capital management and cultural practices within organizations in order to view this Great Resignation as a Great Awakening with new needs and desires.”
In just a few years and throughout the pandemic, millions of people throughout the world chose to quit their jobs. The phenomenon, known as The Great Resignation, had begun to appear years earlier due to disruptive conditions in the labor market. These included increased access to the virtual world, enabling candidates to obtain a fuller view of what employers across the world were offering; a shortage in talent—especially regarding digital skills—where candidates were able to choose among the most enticing offers and a growing amount of freelance work models. Reports prior to COVID-19 confirmed that this model of work would be chosen by 50% of the workforce by 2020. Newer generations now view work stability as an obstacle for acquiring new experiences rather than a benefit.
COVID-19 served as an accelerator for this process. The pandemic represents a dark period for society that put them face to face with three realities that are fundamental in order to understand present-day work tendencies: liberty restrictions, the finiteness of life and, in many cases, the loneliness of quarantine. These new realities and the tension they brought about inspired society to organize different aspects of their life, including work.
The reaction was proportional. Because life is finite, we should be living as freely as possible and filling it with events and actions that are worthwhile. Whatever task we take on should have a sense of community. This means interacting with people who share our sense of purpose and values. Society began to cherish their physical and emotional health, and started to search for new lifestyles—moving to the beach or the suburbs—and enjoyment. The impact these decisions had on work environments arrived rapidly.
Randstad Human Resources detected a change in talent’s priorities when choosing employment. Salaries and pay rates dropped to second place, with comfortable and enjoyable workspaces taking the stand. One in four people prefer unemployment over dissatisfaction in the workspace. 44% would not accept employment in an undiverse organization and 47% would be willing to quit their job if it came between their quality of life. Another priority that grew in the past years is career development. This information serves as proof that new opportunities now exist to attract and retain talent.
A change in mindset is needed in order to take advantage of these opportunities. Three days at the office and two days of working from home doesn’t qualify as “flexible working hours.” Real flexibility requires an agreement within the organization that defines limits, needs, touchpoints and leadership roles. Work environments now prioritize total personalization, where each individual equally manages their contracts and conditions. Employees should have all their needs met, including the possibility of working for different companies simultaneously.
Mental and physical health also comes into play. These aspects are now an integral part of business culture and no longer considered “bonuses.'' Employees are free to express who they are and their beliefs without facing negative consequences.
The search for balance
The balance between professional and personal life is another aspect organizations should focus on, and is closely related to the concept of finiteness of life that was previously mentioned. A business’ purpose is the key element behind a candidate’s selection when searching for a place to work. It goes beyond statements on billboards and empty promises—their purpose must be ascertainable and perceived throughout the day to day experience in the workplace. This includes sustainable practices with a full-on approach that tackle not only environmental matters, but also topics regarding society, education and inclusion.
The change is constant. “Transformation” can’t be considered a change in phases with a beginning and an end, but rather a logic of constant adaptability that will serve as the key to survival and success for leaders and companies of the 21st century.
A good salary or the quality of items received during the induction process are no longer priorities for today’s talent. It’s time to reestablish human capital management and cultural practices within organizations in order to view this Great Resignation as a Great Awakening with new desires and needs that will mark the path of workplace selection towards a new era, filled with challenges and opportunities.
By Ezequiel Kieczkier, Founding Partner at OLIVIA