Have you heard about the September migration? More than four million Americans quit their jobs that month, breaking the record for quits previously set in the previous month. According to a Microsoft report, about 40% of the remaining employees are considering quitting.
The crisis is worse in technology. TalentLMS and Workable recently reported that 72% of tech employees in the United States are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months.
It’s not just the United States. The Great Resignation is a global phenomenon.
Critics point to many reasons for this trend, from government stimulus checks to the rise of remote work to qualified millennials and even the stress of pandemics.
In general, there is clearly a growing mismatch between reality and the expectation of employee experience.
To make matters worse: the more people who quit, the more difficult life became for those who remain. This is especially true for technology workers. IT departments are significantly understaffed, and with the increasing impact of the “Great Resignation” on tech workers, all employees are experiencing more downtime, cyber-attacks, and a slowdown in technology implementation.
This is an emergency situation. You need to know why people are quitting in such large numbers.
The many reasons to quit smoking
After reviewing interviews, surveys, and reports extensively, I’ve compiled a list of the main reasons people gave to quit smoking during the great quitting period. and this is:
- Frustration with laptops, desktops, and networks and systems not working well, a trend that has exacerbated during the pandemic when many remote employees were left to their own devices. There is also widespread confusion about how to proceed when technology is not working.
- Lack of control over workspaces and processes. Many employees feel they have a lot to contribute to how the work gets done, but are barred from giving their opinions.
- A “toxic combination” of low wages, high workloads, and a lack of recognition. This note comes from the Trade Union Conference on Employees in the Public Sector.
- Work-life imbalance. The Covid-driven remote work has given millions of employees less taste for commuting and spending more time with family, and they realize they may be keeping it with another employer.
- General inflexibility about how things work, how work is done, and when.
- Lack of training opportunities. Tech workers, in particular, want more training opportunities — 91% said so in a TalentLMS and Workable survey report.
- Many give up smoking because they are physically and emotionally exhausted. The departure of many makes matters worse for those who remain.
While these reasons are not surprising, it is important to realize what all of these have in common.
It’s all about technology… and culture
While companies of all sizes are scratching their heads and trying to figure it out, the truth is that our technology products and how we use them, as well as our culture around management and employee interaction, is exactly what drives people out the door.
Technology frustrates workers, creates friction and inertia, impedes employee progress and empowerment, creates needless work, and generates a feeling of isolation and powerlessness.
The good news is that better technology is a big part of the solution. Here’s what you need to do to start retaining and attracting employees.
- Shift training. Artificial intelligence (AI)-based adaptive learning technology can make employee training more convenient by enabling employee-driven learning based on what a person already knows – ending frustration with classroom-like or generic training systems. In general, intensify training and career development. Promote from within whenever possible. Guide employees on their career path, wherever it leads, within the company. Just as products need a roadmap, so does every employee.
- Enable natural communications between employees. Easy-to-use collaboration tools enhance communication and culture. Focus not just on getting the work done, but on the team building and psychology of each employee being part of the team.
- Use advanced HR technology, but exaggerate communication with a human touch. Robotic HR contributes to the burnout problem. When it comes to changes in employee status, pay, benefits, supervisors, and other employee events that have an emotional impact on an employee, communication about this should always be human-to-human, not automated emails or notifications.
- Avoid observing employees. Many companies have responded to the rush to work remotely with employee monitoring software. Monitoring screen activity, mouse movements, online time, and other metrics is the surest way to keep employees away. Nobody wants to always keep an eye on Big Brother—especially in his house. Develop alternative means to measure and measure employee performance. Be results-driven and don’t rank employees based on how often your mouse moves. This is true for remote workers, office workers, and everyone in the new hybrid workforce.
- Embrace transparency, originality and empathy. Most changes in work culture happen because a new group of young people enter the workforce and an older group retires each year. The youngest employees—those who have joined the workforce in the past 10 years—have very different expectations about employer behavior. They want to know what’s going on, and work with humans who care. If younger employees feel like a cog in a machine, they are more likely to pack up and go.
- Embrace flexibility and resilience. Technology that drives flexibility in blended work, telecommuting, shifting teams, and flexible working hours will go a long way to improving employee experience and sense of well-being.
- Develop a comprehensive approach to employee satisfaction. With a hybrid and remote workforce, companies need to help employees cope psychologically and emotionally with the realities of varying and changing work locations and environments. In the past, occasional team-building exercises and off-site events were sufficient. Now, managers, supervisors, and leaders must help employees not only feel part of the team, but also help employees maintain their physical and mental health. Part of this process is technological. Feelings of connection, participation, sense of mission, and work-life balance can be helped — or hurt — by technology choices, as well as work policies and management approaches.
- Make avoiding burnout high on the list when choosing technology. With each passing month, artificial intelligence gains advances in technology, for example. But they can have the opposite effects, either contributing to or alleviating fatigue. AI that replaces human interaction — for example, overly automated human resources — can leave employees feeling frustrated and abandoned. AI that enhances human performance can enhance employees, making them feel empowered and supported. It’s also true that automating repetitive tasks can free up employees to do things that only humans can do. Automation should be applied to help and empower humans, not replace them.
The reasons for the great resignation are many. But it’s time we acknowledge the role technology has played in alienating employees in droves—and the role it can play in bringing people back by creating a flexible, humane, and empowering workplace that makes employees happy, productive, and invested in the company’s mission.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.