The great Resignation: Not Afraid of Change

24-year-old Pablo has already presented his first resignation letter. The profession of his dreams, his recent incursion in the labour market and the excitement that comes with first times… None of that was enough when faced with stress, endless days of work and a bad working environment.

He was working in the communication industry and he had reached an ambitious position that suited his curiosity quite soon. His training and his young value were properly valued. However, the workplace became unfriendly territory after just 9 months of his arrival. The weariness and tension covered it all, until it all stopped being worth it.

With hope but with no certainties, Pablo was back to being unemployed. Pablo’s story copies the American model as well as the model of other continents. Let’s remember that, in 2021, in the United States, almost 40 million people quitted their jobs; and while, in Europe, there is a certain degree of normality, almost 30,000 people in Spain have followed this trend since the start of 2022 — a number that takes it to an all-time maximum. This trend was born on the other side of the Atlantic, where it was called The Great Resignation — or The Big Quit. Even though this massive quitting was brewed during the pandemic, there are many explanations for it now, two years later.

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Reason for This Phenomenon

What can lead Pablo, who was taking his first steps in the professional world and was full of excitement, to quit so soon and not regret his decision? There are many reasons that have fueled the resignations of the past two years:

  • Change of Priorities: The working collective now seeks more flexibility, new work formulas and conditions that allow them to enjoy a better quality of life.
  • Over-Qualification: Young professionals are overqualified and there are only a few positions that value those qualifications in their first years as professionals. The search for greater recognition fuels the change of job. Maybe it wasn’t Pablo’s case but, however, it is the situation of many young professionals who don’t feel that their solid academic training and capacities are being appreciated.
  • Stress and Anxiety — And Precariousness: There are industries that are known for their never ending work days, unpaid extra hours and salaries around 1,000 monthly euros. This combination is the height of massive resignations.
  • Millennials Have Imposed Their New Conception of Work: The younger generations describe this change. Away from slave-like labour, born in digital environments and bon vivant by definition, they have no problem leaving their job position when things don’t go right.

Is This the Prelude to a New Model?

Is the Great Resignation a prelude of a new trend that’s destined to set in? It may be a bit too soon to say such a thing and we should keep on observing the phenomenon but, if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that there are no longer jobs for life.

Work stability is hard to reach these days. That’s why many young professionals who have just started are looking for that minimum stability first, so that they can move on later. They seek to change sectors and to move forwards in the search for a position that really fits their academic training and ambition.

However, it’s not always easy to present a resignation letter. The opportunities to turn down a job are drastically reduced when you don’t have work alternatives, or a financial cushion to get by for a few months, or a specific plan. Then, the only ones who resign are those who can actually afford it.

Reformulating the Concept of Work. What Can Corporations Do?

Workers seek flexibility, better work conditions and, mostly, peace and tranquillity, both emotional and work-related. They prioritise their mental health and avoid work-related fatigue and high exhaustion levels. The dilemma comes when there’s a disagreement on one of the parts. A resignation shouldn’t always have a negative connotation but, in general, it’s an unfortunate outcome for at least one of the parts involved.

In this situation, companies are the ones who watch their workers leave and face a possible increase of costs, unstructured teams and the demand for a reconfiguration of their operations. Are executives being controlled by the nervousness of having no control over the situation? What can they do about it?

These could be some of your goals in an employee retention strategy:

  • Take an Active Roles – Companies can foster the reconstruction of the workspace, both physical and virtual, transforming it into a nice environment for their teams.
  • Re-Define Remote Working and the New Professional Ideas – Coming up with a well-being plan on two levels —on-site and remote— will help develop the company-worker relationship.
  • Valuing Employees’ Quality – Previous generations seemed to have the exclusive premise of profit. Those who are just entering the working world, as well as millennials, shy away from inhumane performance and they seek bosses who are aware of this reality.
  • Mind the Causes for Resignations – Salary tends to be the main cause. But there are others, such as the work environment, the search for flexibility or excessive stress. There are multiple factors that motivate these types of decisions, so the best you can do is to tackle them individually and see how your employees react.

The solution for companies who are stressed in the face of the talent drain is to try some of these formulas or to start setting forth contingency plans for intensive resignations. Could reducing the length of the work day and of the exhausting rhythm made Pablo stay in his company in the position he had fought so hard for? He says that, at least, he would have given the company a second chance and, mostly, to his team. However, the situation got to him before any new opportunities were presented. Until when are companies still on time?

The solution for companies, anxious about the brain drain, involves trying one of these formulas or starting to implement contingency plans trying to face the resignations… A reduction in the working hours and exhausting journey would have made Pablo keep his job? He assures that, at least, he would have given the company a chance. However, the situation ran over him before considering giving new opportunities. When is the company on time to avoid the resignation?

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