Why the great resignation is a great thing

Employees do their employer and themselves a favor by committing entirely to their calling.

While most news coverage refers to the mass exodus of employees as a negative obstacle to overcome, I know the “great resignation” is a good thing for companies. Heck, it’s a great thing.

In September, the Edelman Trust Barometer special report on the belief-driven employee showed that one in five employees had left their job or planned to leave their job within a six-month window of the report. The primary motivators were a desire for a job that better fit with their values (59%); a job that better fit their lifestyle (50%); and better compensation or career advancement (31%). 

The U.S. has a record-breaking 10.4 million job openings. Employers across the country have entered a new war for talent. But where there are challenges, there are opportunities. Here are three reasons why the “great resignation” is a good thing for the future of work:

It weeds out those with one foot in and one foot out the door
There are advantages to voluntary termination. It might sound unempathetic, but when an employee’s alternative passions outweigh their need for their current paycheck, they need to move on. We all know the employees with a bad case of FOMO, fear of missing out, with one foot in and one foot out of the door. Mentally and emotionally MIA, their productivity wanes. We should applaud employees who go after what they want, instead of remaining half engaged in critical work that deserves full attention. These employees do their employer and themselves a favor by committing entirely to their calling.

Those who come back, come back with better skills
Emotional intelligence. Ability to deal with ambiguity. Scrappiness and perseverance. Some of these desirable soft skills are not always learned through formal education or from the same job held for several years. Leaving the workplace and pursuing another career can provide invaluable experience. Developing new skills will not only enrich people’s lives but also the success of future organizations that they join.

It gives power to the employee
In a world where shareholder value was the strongest business driver for years, the pendulum has swung in favor of employees as the company’s most important stakeholder. Employees have the power, and their expectations of potential employers have never been greater. Successful organizations will revamp their employee value proposition, making it harder for employees to think that they will find a better experience elsewhere.

Our call to action
With the current labor shortage and anticipated inflation, today’s talent-friendly market demands going beyond compensation to keep employees engaged and satisfied. Flexibility, empathy and opportunities for professional growth must be top-of-mind. Companies must reestablish their employer brand narrative across all channels and answer the wakeup call of the “great resignation.”

Now is the time to empower your employees to find their home in your organization — or find their true calling elsewhere. 

Jonathan Jordan is GM of Edelman’s Southern California office. 

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