If you’ve been living under a rock (and the data plan on your phone is terrible), you may not have heard about it.
But for millions of people – both employers and employees – it’s serious business.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans left their jobs in July 2021.
That’s a lot of people voluntarily leaving jobs they probably haven’t loved for a long time.
Someone once told me that people quit their jobs long before they ever stop collecting a paycheck.
Trapped in jobs we hate
The lifecycle of an employee is too often driven by fear.
You get a job and get comfortable. You get a mortgage, a car loan, start a family….boom you’re trapped in a job you don’t care about because you need it to pay bills.
Along the way you spend less time in the house, less time with your family and more time in that car commuting to and from work.
But since the first lockdowns started at the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of us got to spend more time working remotely from home, with our families…and it was pretty good.
I’ve been working from home since 2005. And I can tell you that it took about two weeks before I decided that I never wanted to commute to an office ever again.
How many of the millions of people who were forced into remote work by the pandemic ended up with the same knot in their stomach when talk of a return to the office started last summer?
I know a lot of people can’t wait to get back to the office. But even if a small percentage of folks are now dreading it, that’s a big problem for businesses.
And to be quite frank, I’m not sure what can be done.
Real life/work balance…now with whiter whites
Once you’ve adapted to a life where laundry and Zoom meetings can happen at the same time – it’s kinda great.
But the “Great Resignation” is only the precursor to what comes next. And that’s the “Great Reinvention.”
In the short term a lot of people are going to try the entrepreneurial route, starting their own businesses based on what they were doing before. And that’s great. But honestly, it’s a tough road and definitely not for everyone.
Many times over the years I’ve found myself dreaming about how nice it would be to clock into a job and 9am and leave at 5pm without a care in the world – knowing that my bank account would be magically replenished every two weeks.
Eventually most people will drift back into the labor market. But their priorities will have changed.
Some will want more meaning from their jobs. Others will look for less meaning – seeing their job as simply the vehicle to pay for what they really want from life (even if that pay is less).
This is the great reinvention. And it’s going to impact businesses of all sizes.
Welcome to the new world of work
How should companies respond?
First they need to understand that the employment landscape has changed and so have employee expectations. For the first time a lot of employees have tasted freedom from brutal commutes, toxic office cultures and more. And guess what – freedom is priceless.
Trying to force people back to 2019 work schedules isn’t going to be successful.
Organizations need to embrace the “Great Reinvention” and adapt to their employees’ needs if they want to attract and retain the best talent going forward.
Those organizations that continue to commoditize their workforce will be left struggling to explain why nobody wants to work for them.