As we slowly make our way back from the global pandemic of the past two years, the workplace we return to is not the one we left in early 2020.
So much has changed, in fact, that as companies and organisations we’re having to deal with interesting new challenges and dynamics, not least of which is the so-called ‘Great Resignation’.
The term ‘Great Resignation’ was coined by Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at A&M University’s Mays Business School in Texas, in an interview with Bloomberg in May 2021. Since then, it’s taken a life of its own, being used surreptitiously to describe almost anything that can and will change in the workplace post-pandemic.
Is your staff refusing to come back to the office? Great Resignation. Is your staff moving abroad or seeking work-from-home employment elsewhere? Great Resignation. Are other companies headhunting your staff with incentives that better match their ‘new normal’ ambitions? Great Resignation.
The truth is, skills churn is nothing new in our industry, nor is the active migration and relocation of people. Yes, the pandemic has, in many ways, focused our attention on staff retention because of radically different working conditions and arrangements, and companies have been forced to restructure and therefore rethink their employment criteria as a result of the various lockdowns.
But none of this has changed the fact that employees are ultimately looking for the right balance in a work environment receptive to their needs. This was true before Covid, and will continue to be the case in the ‘new normal’.
Instead of fighting the tide of an inevitable social transition, smart companies are looking at different ways of turning the tide, so to speak. For starters, that requires an open and honest line of communication with your staff, because ultimately, we’re all in a relationship together. How do we offer solutions that nurture their well-being while progressing their careers and, at the same time, advancing our competitiveness and service to our clients?
I understand the pressure companies are feeling with large portions of expensively rented and maintained office space still not being used, but at the same time, forcing staff to return to an office en-masse will do nothing more than feed the trend, so to speak. Speaking from our own experience, we’ve instead chosen to work with people to turn the office into a place of engagement and learning.
For example, we are moving into the direction of hosting regular insight seminars and night classes at the office for any employee who wants to broaden their experience or sharpen their certifications. We’re also creating new ways for employees to engage with each other in the ‘safe space’ of the office, giving them the resources they need to collaborate that they otherwise wouldn’t have working from home.
We’ve been steadily creating a company culture that supports people and their growth and helps them realise their potential as part of working with us. To do so we’ve shifted the narrative from ‘the office environment’ to ‘the individuals that work in that environment’, a people-centred approach that was started well before the pandemic took hold.
As such, we’ve never taken the Great Resignation at face value; rather, it’s a work evolution. It’s about redefining how people can better learn the skills they need to build their careers and redirect their career trajectories.
In this industry, having to continually move and reinvent yourself to advance your career comes with the territory. If we can marry that need with creating an environment where that’s possible while working under the umbrella of one company with dozens of local and global clients and expert peers and mentors, then I believe people will stop thinking about resignation and start working towards their own revitalisation.