So much has changed during the pandemic; it’s not surprising that huge numbers of employees are “re-evaluating” their careers and their experiences with work. Some level of organizational churn and turnover is expected but it seems that the trend of leaving for greener job pastures is ramping up.
In pre-pandemic 2019, CNBC reported that workers were leaving their jobs at record rates so that they could access the pay raises and promotions that they weren’t getting within their workplaces. Now, Prudential Financial’s survey “Pulse of the American Worker” notes that after the pandemic, one in four workers who worked remotely during the Covid crisis plans to look for opportunities with a new employer once the threat of the pandemic has subsided.
What’s Driving These Departures?
In Prudential’s survey of 2000 American employees, 80 percent said they are planning on leaving because they are seeking career advancement; 72 percent say the pandemic made them rethink the value and relevance of their skill sets. As this public health crisis resolves, more than half of the potential job-hoppers have pursued new skills and training – possibly so that they are better prepared for new employment opportunities in the coming months and years.
Many employees acknowledge that they are leaving for new jobs that provide more flexibility. Even among people who aren’t actively considering changing jobs, 50 percent of people currently working remotely say if their current organization doesn’t continue to offer some remote-work options for the long-term, they’ll look for a position at an organization that offers part-time or even full-time remote work. In fact, 68 percent of employees seem to prefer a hybrid model of working in which they split their time, working remotely some days and in the office other days.
Workplace Culture and Retention
Although I have not seen research on this as yet, I am certain that another driver of departures is organizational culture. I have lost count of how many clients, friends and associates have told me that they enjoy working from home because they no longer need to deal with modern racism, including microaggressions, and various forms of exclusion. Intuitively, I assume that harassment and bullying would also be less of a problem in the context of remote work. Even if that is true, anecdotally, it seems that micromanagement and other behaviours that feel disrespectful or undermining do seem to have followed employees into the world of remote work. Obviously, this reduces employee’s engagement and fulfilment.
Once again, Maya Angelo’s words feel timely: “People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
People who felt unsupported, undervalued, or irrelevant to their employers are probably not feeling especially connected to their organization during remote work. Similarly, organizations that have not followed through on the “diversity and inclusion statements” made during the international discussions about systemic discrimination may also be vulnerable to poor employee retention. These employees may be more receptive to accepting calls from head-hunters in the months and years to come.
Are you an employer thinking about your HR policies and practices in the interest of becoming or remaining an employer of choice? Are you an employee seeking a better or more inclusive workplace? Dr. Helen’s training in Work and Business Psychology (officially known as Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology) means she is a genuine expert in evaluating work-related behaviours. She uses those skills to help hiring managers tell the difference between people who say the right things during interviews and people who actually deliver on the job. Plus, she knows how to do it inclusively.
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