Research suggests the onset of COVID-19 drove a staggering number of employees to transition out of their jobs, a trend that has only increased over the past two years. Interesting, right?
This phenomenon, known as The Great Resignation, has been driven by a fundamental misalignment of the social and non-social contract between employees and employers. Put simply, employees are not fulfilled by the work they do, and they feel that their employers are not meeting their needs. As a result, they are seeking opportunities elsewhere where the overall employment packages better suit their needs.1
While The Great Resignation incites many questions, this newsletter seeks to answer only one: Who holds the pen to rewrite work in 2022?
While employees have been able to leverage the surplus of job openings against their employers as bargaining chips for better benefits, compensation, and opportunities, employers still hold a great amount of power in shaping cultural norms and the employee experience. This emerging power imbalance has sparked challenges for employers and employees alike.
Employer challenges arising from the pandemic include developing and establishing new organizational policies, shifting to work-from-home or hybrid models, redefining cultural norms and practices, pivoting strategies, and retaining talent.
Meanwhile, employees face personal and professional issues, such as heightened anxiety about job security, burnout, or maintaining mental health2. This manifests itself as dissatisfaction with or uncertainty about their employment.
At first glance, the challenges facing the employee and the employer appear different. However, in reality, the challenges are so intertwined that when one is pressed, so is the other. For example, while the employer may be focused on establishing new policies to better reflect post-pandemic conditions, it is the employee who is most affected by policy changes in their day-to-day work. The same can be true as employers struggle to best support employees facing heightened anxiety or stresses, both on-the-job and at home.
To summarize, employers and employees hold the same stakes in the most pressing work issues of today. The practices that may have worked in the past may not be effective in the new normal.
So, who holds the pen when rewriting work in 2022? We would argue that rewriting or redefining work cannot be done solely by one party. Employees and employers must work together to move in a positive direction that meets both parties’ needs, and jointly rewrite/redefine work to fit the new environment.
As employees and employers discuss how to rewrite/redefine work, we would like to provide direction on the process:
- Evaluate cultural and retention factors contributing to employee intent to stay or leave
- Determine the effectiveness of specific HR practices and your Human Capital Strategy in addressing retention risk factors, especially those related to gender parity, transparency, and inclusion which disproportionately affect women and minorities
- Agree on potential retention risk areas and strategies at the organization, manager, and individual levels
- Consider manager readiness – are managers appropriately trained to handle the new managerial and leadership demands arising from post-pandemic stress and the organizational re-boot?
- Evaluate current HR practices for effectiveness in virtual or hybrid working environments
By recognizing that both employer and employee jointly hold the pen when rewriting work, how do you plan to start the necessary conversations in your organization?
Ready to learn more?
If you would like to start the conversation for rewriting work in your organization, please contact us. WLH has helped many organizations with their human capital strategy, retention practices and manager specific retention training, and leadership agility training to support organizations, teams, and individuals as they prepare to rewrite work.
1 – Maurer, R., and Mirza, B. (2021) Deconstructing the Great Resignation. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-news/pages/deconstructing-the-great-resignation.aspx
2 – McKinsey & Company. (2020). Women in the Workplace. Retrieved from https://wiw-report.s3.amazonaws.com/Women_in_the_Workplace_2020.pdf
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