The contemporary labor market is currently facing an intriguing phenomenon, widely referred to as “The Great Resignation”. This term has been coined to describe the massive wave of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs, significantly affecting the workforce worldwide. As Mortensen and Edmondson explain in their Harvard Business Review article, “Rethink Your Employee Value Proposition: Offer your people more than just flexibility”, this extraordinary movement presents a significant challenge for employers in attracting and retaining talent.
To comprehend the full breadth of The Great Resignation, it’s crucial to understand its driving factors. A confluence of various issues – from burnout to the desire for better work-life balance, higher pay, and improved working conditions, notably flexibility – has been fueling this labor market disruption. The global pandemic has only amplified these factors, driving an introspective reassessment of what work should look like for many employees. This shift in perspective has led many employees to quit their current jobs in pursuit of opportunities that better align with their redefined professional aspirations and personal life goals.
For employers, the Great Resignation has translated into a highly competitive labor market where attracting and retaining talent has become exceedingly difficult. The conventional approach of asking employees what they want and trying to provide it has been put to the test. While this strategy may seem logical and straightforward, Mortensen and Edmondson argue that it can be a trap for employers.
Why? Because such an approach tends to narrow the conversation to the material aspects of jobs that are currently uppermost in employees’ minds. For instance, in the past, the central concern was often pay, but most recently, the focus has shifted to flexibility—particularly remote and hybrid work. While material offerings like compensation and flexible schedules are easy levers to pull and are immediately appreciated, they are also easy for competitors to imitate. The impact of these benefits on employee retention is often short-lived. An over reliance on them could potentially lead to a ‘race to the bottom’, where employers continually outbid each other in a counterproductive competition for talent.
Thus, understanding The Great Resignation goes beyond merely acknowledging this significant shift in the labor market. It involves understanding the complexity of employees’ changing needs, the limitations of short-term material offerings, and the importance of a holistic approach to the employee value proposition. According to Mortensen and Edmondson, such an approach includes not only material offerings but also opportunities for growth and development, connection and community, and a sense of meaning and purpose in the work.
Therefore, it’s clear that comprehending and addressing The Great Resignation is not just about offering more money or more flexibility. It’s about rethinking the entire employee value proposition, focusing on what employees need to build a thriving and sustainable future for both themselves and the organization. Ultimately, understanding The Great Resignation is a critical first step toward creating a more resilient, engaged, and productive workforce in this new era of work.
Reference: Mortensen, M., & Edmondson, A.C. (2023). Rethink Your Employee Value Proposition: Offer your people more than just flexibility. Harvard Business Review.
About the Author
Dan Simmons founded Continental Search in 1996 but focused exclusively on animal nutrition recruiting in 2002. He has won over 20 awards from Top Echelon Network, America’s leading placement network, including Placer of the Year in 2009 and the prestigious Million Dollar Award.
Dan is currently focused on recruiting top talents such as nutritionists, technical support professionals, sales managers, and executive-level positions, including technical directors and VP of sales and marketing.For the latest job opportunities, you may connect with Dan on LinkedIn or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.