The Great Resignation Is Great Reckoning

Darshak Rana

As a millennial in the workforce, you’ve probably heard people say that your generation is lazy. But when it comes to quitting their jobs, millennials are more likely than any other generation to leave for greener pastures.

According to Harvard Business Review, Millennials (age 25–40) and Gen Z(age 18–24) are leading the “great resignation” trend.

IBM report says Gen-Z make up the majority of job quitters (33%), with Millennials coming in at 25 percent and baby boomers only making up 8 percent of the group leaving jobs involuntarily.

This shift in behavior can be attributed to several factors, but one of them is definitely not laziness or entitlement; instead, employers need to start thinking about how they’re engaging and motivating this new workforce if they want them to stick around long-term.

But why are millennials quitting more now than ever before when the job market is highly volatile — job vacancies decreased by 6.6 percent and the inflation rate surged to a whopping 5.3 percent from last year’s 1.3 percent?

Contentment over loyalty

My school buddies Aryan and Dev, working in Silicon Valley, recently quit their high-paying jobs. Raj, working for Amazon, is also about to resign before this year ends. They were the most loyal employees, as they never changed/quit jobs in the last eight-ten years.

But things changed with changing times. Work-from-home culture replaced the office working set-up. Daily morning meetings were replaced with back-to-back zoom meetings, as fake emergencies became a norm. Working hours escalated from eight to twelve that robbed them of their “me-time” and leisure hours. Their physical, mental, emotional, social, and psychological health deteriorated because of burning out daily.

They’re not alone. Microsoft’s recent research says 54 percent of employees working from home feel overworked. Employees seek contentment, mental comfort, and better life balance than staying loyal to their high-paying jobs that suck the meaning of their lives.

The idea of loyalty is flawed. It’s often one-sided.

Employers are unlikely to put their financial interests aside to safeguard their employees. When funds are tight, they fire people. If a team member fails to satisfy their work requirements, their position is jeopardized. That’s why sticking to a job just for loyalty doesn’t make sense at all.

Just as an employee owes the employer some things like great work ethics, clear communication, professionalism, and a reasonable notice period before leaving, the employer also owes them some non-negotiables like whole weekends, a lifelong commitment to stay, respecting healthy boundaries, fixed working hours, work-life balance, etc.

A human touch over hierarchy

Someone rightly said, “People don’t quit jobs; they leave their managers.” In most circumstances, this is true, especially when the supervisor is domineering, biased, and a micromanager rather than being empathetic and equitable.

Millennials and GenZ concentrate on only one thing: Get the work done and go home. They’re not interested in office politics or who does what!

Hierarchy kills talents. You are expected to follow orders rather than suggest improvements. People in the hierarchy value loyalty than performance. I can tell you from my past work experience that only the supportive ones are recommended for bonuses and promotions. Young employees are exhausted chasing promotions using “butter up” methods and bringing free coffee look-good schemes.

Titles and designations can’t sustain an organization. This Forbes article brilliantly explains how job titles and tags are killing the organization’s productivity, innovation, and progress.

Experience doesn’t always mean expertise. Employees don’t want designations anymore. Job titles don’t keep them motivated. They also don’t need a separate corner office, free lunch, happy hours, or Christmas goodies.

They want a human touch. They need appreciation for their efforts. Their productivity is directly proportional to being valued by their bosses. They seek acknowledgment for their inputs. But unfortunately, the hierarchy doesn’t allow people to connect at a human level and sees one another as mere “profit and loss” idols.

A job is not about paying bills

“Employees aren’t going to leave the company as they have bills to pay” — my past company’s VP boldly made an insensitive statement when the issue of worker’s security in the manufacturing unit was raised. Even millennials believed this BS as they never dared to quit before.

But, someone had to release the pressure. Millennials just did that.

They let go of their fear of working in a toxic environment just for the sake of paying bills. They’re ready to work on a hassle-free gas station without feeling insecure than rubbing their a*ses in a 9–5 job setting. At least they could use the no-brainer time to harness their interpersonal skills and build connections.

Most people start a side hustle, create a startup, not with a mindset of becoming a millionaire but to breathe freedom.

They don’t want to work where they’re not adding value to a process line. They don’t want to work where their talents and skills are unused.
They don’t want to work where they wait for the clock to strike five.
They don’t want to work where they’re treated as puppets in the hands of their managers.

So, paying bills is not a convincing reason for sticking to underpaying or overworking jobs. Millennials just realized this truth.

A job is more about building a career

According to the 2021 Talent Index, 84 percent of employees say their employers should help them grow their careers, while 44 percent reported having no talent acceleration programs at their workplace.

How can employers expect employees to be excited about their roles if they do not invest in their talents?

Empowering employees increases the chances of faster goal achievements and higher productivity. Well-nurtured employees consider themselves as ambassadors of the organization. They’d often go the additional mile for their clients as they feel responsible for maintaining their company’s reputation.

There is no greater marketing for a company than a pool of pleased, fulfilled team members who are eager to submit glowing reviews about how well they’re cared for and how frequently opportunities for development and progress are presented. Prospective employees may get a feel of the work culture even before they start working, thanks to the plethora of online employer reviews.

Talking about new positions, mobility options, involvement in affiliate programs, etc., are some ways to entice the young blood to stay and grow. But not many companies are implementing talent acceleration programs that make enthusiastic millennials feel rejected.

The termination scare is over

The world has significantly changed in the last two years. People’s mindset has drastically changed owing to the life-threatening problems they’ve faced due to the pandemic.

But the change is always good, as they say. Struggles and hardships have made the younger force bold and confident. For years, companies have fired their employees for the dumbest reasons. But not anymore.

Employees aren’t scared of sudden termination. They’re confident of finding a new job or running a startup.

A recent survey of 5000 employed adults stated that 72% were confident in their skills to find a new job, while 53% were thinking of resignation within the next 12 months, and 23% were actively looking for a new job while being employed.

Surprisingly, a staggering 81 percent said that the pandemic gave them the time they needed to decide about their resignation. So, the great resignation is not a “pandemic effect.”

Why the “Resignation Trend” is not going anywhere anytime soon

According to a Pew Research Center analysis, the mass resignations represent a reckoning after decades of scarcely moving U.S. pay growth compared to inflation.

Mckinsey and Company, a global management consulting company, says in one of their reports:

Employee attrition is not stopping anytime soon and the resignation trend must not be thought as a pandemic effect. The reason is organizations are taking forever to learn the “why’s” and act accordingly.
In the meantime, 43 percent of the employees in five developed countries (U.S, U.K, Australia, Canada, Singapore) have confirmed their resignation in the next three to six months while 18 percent of the respondents said their quitting intentions are certain.
Also, 36 percent who had quit in the past six months did so without having a new job in hand. This is yet another way the Great Attrition differs fundamentally from previous downturn-and-recovery cycles — and another sign that employers may be out of touch with just how hard the past 18 months have been for their workers.

This survey and analysis indicate that attrition may accelerate in the coming months as people are ready to quit without having a new job. Even if we consider that a major portion of employees is satisfied, they can’t be termed “safe” from the prospect of attrition. Why?

Options increase daily, with some employers offering mouth-watering working conditions that could change the contented employees’ intentions.

So, employee retention is just as important as hiring new ones.

According to a study, “an employee retained means saving a lot of time and money because the process of backfilling is tedious and loss-inducing for an organization.”

Unless employers do this, employees will continue quitting jobs

  • Conduct surveys to check if their employees are overworking and work towards changing it
  • Offer career growth opportunities — funding education, affiliate programs, talent recognition rewards, etc.
  • Offer appropriate maternity, paternity, and sick leaves
  • Make vacation plans enticing
  • Offer physical, mental, and spiritual benefits by introducing gym memberships, yoga studio subscriptions, and mental health counsellings
  • Train the authoritative leaders to be more supportive and empathetic
  • Stop sheltering toxic leaders
  • Have flexible working hours and a hybrid work environment
  • Pay well
  • Make the hierarchy more transparent and welcoming to the newbies
  • Offer incentives and promotions based on the fair judgment of performance

In short, the millennial generation is changing the workforce.

They are taking a stand against the traditional workplace. They’re looking for contentment and meaning in their work rather than just money and stability. With this change of attitude comes an increased fearlessness about quitting jobs that don’t meet those needs or expectations.

With this mindset in mind, employers need to provide more than just money or benefits if they want millennial employees on board with their company culture.

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