We’ve all heard about the Great Resignation. COVID-19 changed the way people view integrating work and life including what they are willing to do to ensure more flexibility in the workplace. I am one hundred percent in agreement it was time for many employers to revisit their remote work policies, and probably should have done so long before the pandemic. I also don’t expect that everyone will go back to the traditional office when COVID is “all over.” My company has been remote since its inception 20+ years ago before we called it “remote work.”
As the owner of a business, human resources, and marketing firm, I have advocated for employees’ ability to work from home or from wherever they feel they can be productive. My business model requires me to have a high level of trust and confidence our employees will get their work done efficiently and effectively to keep our clients happy. I don’t have an option to bring them into the office if they are not productive. It is interesting to see other employers are now grappling with issues I had to address 20 years ago and continue to address.
“I’ve always believed trusting employees to do the work (without micromanaging) and encouraging them to be their best selves would benefit all parties.”
Recently, the proverb, “Don’t burn your bridges behind you” comes to mind when I think of the workplace challenges that may contribute to the surge in resignations. Employers and employees alike can burn bridges. The vast number of resignations we have seen may be attributed to employers who burned bridges with their employees. Poor work environments, rigid in-office work requirements, and dismissing employees’ requests for fair/equal pay, training, or promotions added fuel to the fire.
With that said, I know that companies all over the country, and globally, are having to make changes to their business models and work environment to meet the rising demands of the workforce. We must make changes to be relevant and survive this employee’s job market. We’ve increasingly seen employers across many industries shifting their business hours and/or services due to a lack of staff. Employers also find they need to offer considerably higher wages and incentives to entice employees. The competition for professional and entry-level workers alike has increased dramatically in the last 2 years. What previously was considered “entry-level” jobs in retail and fast food establishments now command an hourly wage of $15 – $20. A trend no one could have predicted just 5 years ago.
However, I am already hearing that the Great Resignation could turn into the Great Regret. The pendulum swings back and forth from an employer to an employee’s market with the changes in the economy. When companies have to pay higher wages, they may need to raise prices, the consumer pays more and inflation rises. When inflation rises employers start reconsidering how much they can afford to pay and/or how many employees they can bring on. The efforts to reduce costs may eventually lead to layoffs. Employees (consumers) start worrying about their jobs and start spending less money and so the hapless cycle continues.
Why am I giving a mini economics lesson? Because I want employees or prospective employees to be forewarned that the employee market won’t last forever.
Starting in the next 3 to 6 months, or possibly sooner, I predict that we will see a decline in hiring at various levels, as the signs are already pointing to changes in recruitment. My many years of experience in business and human resources tell me that hiring managers and recruiters have very long memories. They will remember the candidates who “ghosted” them for the interviews, they will remember the employee who didn’t show up, call, or write on their first day of work, and they will also remember the time and money they spent to hire and train the employee who then quit for a better opportunity with little to no notice. They will remember being “held for ransom” for higher pay when the employee hadn’t truly earned it, but the employer couldn’t afford to have them quit. Whether you think that is right or wrong doesn’t matter, they will.
So, for those candidates looking for jobs right now, for employees who are currently employed but looking for something better, I want to give you some tips:
- Use traditional etiquette in the interview process. Respond to employers and if you aren’t going to show up for an interview, give them the courtesy to tell them. You don’t have to go into detail or give lengthy reasons why. Just tell them that you have decided that the opportunity wasn’t right for you. Preferably give them at least 24 hours’ notice.
- Don’t accept the offer, if you aren’t going to show up on the first day. Chances are you were qualified for the job and something caught your interest to go through the process and accept the position. You may need that job in the future.
- Don’t start working and training for a new job when you are still looking for the job of your dreams. The employer invests considerable time and training in you.
- Do have open and honest conversations with prospective employers about how you feel about the job or ask more questions to alleviate concerns.
- If you are going to quit, give notice. I know many employers will just ask you to leave, and that stinks. I don’t think that is right on the employer’s side, and they can get caught with unemployment claims if they have you leave before your official resignation date and your job falls through. If your employer likes the work you do, they will be disappointed you are leaving even with notice. If you leave without burning a bridge, you are more likely to get a good reference and be considered for an open position in the future. You may just need that goodwill in the future.
- Demanding higher pay without the experience or performance to back it up, puts your employer in a difficult position. I do believe that all employees should advocate for themselves and seek fair wages, but there are ways to go about it that will leave both parties satisfied with the result.
- Doing your homework and finding the market wages that are commensurate with your level of experience and your job description is a responsible thing for you to do. Also consider other perks such as flexible work hours, remote work options, and the ability to work independently. There are many factors that smaller companies rely on when attempting to compete in the job market. They are not able to compete in all aspects of total compensation, but they may offer more flexibility, which is what drew you there in the first place. Having an honest discussion with your supervisor about your wages is acceptable however, ultimatums will not bode well in your favor in the long run.
- Consider the reasons why you took the job in the first place. What was it that attracted you? What has changed? Ask yourself, “What is the real reason you want to leave?”
With the current conditions of the job market, it’s important to remember that nothing ever remains the same. Change is inevitable and a guarantee. If you are an employer, struggling to find qualified candidates or if you are an employee looking to capitalize on a new opportunity remember to remain professional and courteous.
If your small business needs help with a recruitment strategy, or updates to your employee handbook to include new policy changes, our team of Human Resource Consultants are here to help. Contact Us to learn how we can help your business or give us a call at (800) 317-1378 x14.