No One Wants to Work Anymore: The Great Resignation

The number of workers quitting their jobs reached a record 4.5 million at the end of November 2021.

During this "Great Resignation," workers have left their jobs in historic numbers. Some believe the trend stemmed from a psychological and economic shift as employers struggled and failed to entice workers back to industries that have too often treated them as disposable.

What is the Great Resignation?

Many reasons exist for why people quit or leave the labor force. The top reason experts cite is a lack of adequate child care, followed by health concerns about Covid, which are now exacerbated by the new Omicron variant.

Additional reasons many people quit their jobs include seeking better opportunities, higher wages, and pursuing self-employment.

Industries hit hardest by the Great Resignation include leisure and hospitality, retail, and healthcare. With 10.6 million job openings as of November 2021, the demand for labor is higher than ever.

The shortage of workers has increased in low-paying industries where job openings outnumber workers. Why stay at a service job paying $9 an hour when the restaurant next door offers $11.50?

Why Are So Many Americans Quitting Their jobs?

Switching Careers

Twenty percent of workers have simply quit jobs and actively seek work in new career paths that fuel their passions.

The low pay and health risks of working in a restaurant or retail store became increasingly frustrating for many workers.

25% of hospitality workers have left the industry permanently. While, 20% of all workers say the pandemic forced them to change their job preferences in favor of remote work, according to a ZipRecruiter survey.

Work-Life Balance

Many of those who left their jobs during the Great Resignation site the need for more balance in their lives, feeling burnt-out and overworked with little time to spend with their families and loved ones. The healthcare industry has the highest rate of workers quitting due to work-life balance problems.

However, it isn't just the healthcare sector that is affected. Workers from other industries, such as food and hospitality, are also leaving due to problems with work-life balance.

Self-Employment

Digital.com survey indicates that one-third of workers quit their jobs to start their own businesses, with the majority simply wanting to be their own boss.

How The Great Resignation is Affecting Fast Food

Fast food availability has been problematic, with people quitting at record rates. Lack of workers leads to training and staffing issues, closures or reduced hours, menu shortages, and dissatisfied customers.

I interviewed a successful fast-food franchise owner in Houston, Texas, after reading about The Great Resignation. Her location is notably one of the most successful in the city, so I wanted to know how she was able to retain such a high level of staff.

Below are some top nuggets she shared on addressing the labor shortage by attracting and retaining talent at a fast-food business.

Workplace Culture

It's all about culture! The core values that define this restaurant's culture are Faith-Family-Home-Community. People want jobs that align with their values, not the other way around. The culture was strong before the pandemic hit, but the challenges brought on by the pandemic forced the leadership team to reassess employee needs.

While some are stressed, overworked, and fatigued, others juggle childcare and homeschooling. Employees need to be listened to, empathized with, understood, and sometimes even guided.

Empower Your Employees

Employers need to support their employees. They have a bottoms-up method of communication. In a bottom-up culture, employee ideas, insights, and perspectives are incorporated into decisions. In other words, the employees are heard.

Having multiple perspectives on how your company can achieve its goals is essential to its success. Employee retention is increased when employees are encouraged to work together with a sense of community.

Build a Workplace Community

Employees need to feel connected to the company, the leadership, and their coworkers. During team dinners, competitive games, and birthday celebrations, the leadership team presents ideas for working better while celebrating employee accomplishments and successes.

Focus on Worker Development

It's important to pay workers well, and more importantly, to show them a path to their future. New hires whose managers see potential work with and mentor them immediately, showing them what it takes to get promoted. She added with a big smile that many of her top employees are recruited away by banks, and many of them leave, but they usually return after a few months.

Attract the Talent

The best recruiters are her employees, she said. Since her employees enjoy their work, they talk highly of it to friends and family. Their company culture encourages them to recruit others in their community. Prospective employees trust existing employees. It's only natural. These are the people who live with the daily grind day in and day out. Additionally, employees are more engaged in their work when they work with friends. Employees benefit from working with people they get along with.

She says it takes time, genuine care, focus, and work to attract and keep talent, but she thinks it's worth it!

Their second location should open in the next few months.

What Can We Learn From the Great Resignation?

Address Burnout

Employees are experiencing grief, loss, and burnout after a turbulent 20 months. There has been an increase in challenges and deficits to well-being, and the nature of the pandemic has strained some aspects of work life, such as PPE, social distancing, and isolation.

The compassionate leaders who are most likely to offer social and emotional support at work are typically women. They have been burdened with multiple roles:

  • Job performance
  • Supporting colleagues' emotional and interpersonal needs
  • Caring for families, including parents

Burnout can lead to work shifts for those remaining as people leave, further contributing to burnout. Compared to 35% of men, 42% of women report feeling burnt out often or almost always. No matter how we examine these numbers, they are too high across the board.

Employers should create multiple avenues to address these challenges head-on to retain their employees. As an example, wellness programs, walking groups, or more frequent breaks. Several companies have performed week-long shutdowns to allow their employees to take a break.

Health Must Be a Priority

High-performing organizations tend to exhibit a vibrancy and durability known as organizational health. Healthy organizations strive to achieve a peak level of functioning more in line with thriving and flourishing than simply fixing problems. Similarly, companies can provide an employee experience that enables each employee to succeed beyond alleviating burnout.

Employers would do well to be bold by recognizing and promoting employees who create tangible outcomes, promote organizational health, foster psychological safety, and re-energize the organization through its people.

Build Skills

To find the right skill sets, you need to redeploy, reskill, and upskill the talent you already have. Many companies developed brilliant strategies to pivot at the beginning of the pandemic and utilized workers' ideas to leverage the products, services, and talents of their organization.

In addition to building capabilities that drive financial returns, investing in employee development also demonstrates to employees how crucial their advancement and development are to the company's future.

Rethink the Talent Pool

Determine the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences that are needed. If we hire for skills and lateral thinking beyond traditional profiles and academic degrees, we will be able to access a wide range of top performers, no matter their age, education, or background.

Develop the right skills by investing in fellowships and internships. Employ retired workers as mentors, apprentices, and advisers and bring back employees in the labor pool. Many companies offer paid internships for college freshmen and sophomores to expand their talent pipelines and meet their diversity and equity goals.

The Bottom Line

You are losing employees that you want to keep, and if this continues, talent gaps will grow. By implementing these strategies, companies can retain their best employees, enhance morale, tap into untapped talent pools, and acquire the necessary skills. We have found that a sense of belonging and feeling valued plays a crucial role in strengthening the bonds of employees, so they want to grow with the company, not leave it.


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