It’s no secret that the pandemic was a wake-up call for millions in the workforce.
Employees felt less engaged with their companies and teams, as remote work became a long-term reality. Personal needs came first, job loyalty decreased and people began to realize that maybe it was time for a change. Now that some are headed back to the office, others continue to re-think their options. Many are simply calling it quits.
Economists call it “The Great Resignation. Others the “The Great Reassessment”. Whichever the term, it’s clear that people are taking this newfound bargaining power and unprecedented moment in their lives as an opportunity to re-evaluate their long-term priorities. How many? 47 million Americans in 2021 and 4.3 million in Dec 2021 alone.
The questions they ask themselves probably sound familiar: Can I have a better work-life balance? Am I being compensated appropriately for the work I’m doing? Am I balancing my family’s needs appropriately? Is sitting in a room and writing 10,000 lines of code a day what life is supposed to be?
The Great Resignation…**
Anthony Klotz, a Texas A&M organizational psychologist coined the term, calling the trend a pandemic epiphany. At its core, employees are tired of an overworked world and a life under-lived. They never again want their lives to just revolve around their work.
Instead, they want their jobs to adjust to the kind of life they want to live.
As we now enter the third year of the pandemic, the Omicron variant threw many companies’ 2022 back-to-the-office plans out of the window. Even the mention of returning back to in-person work can cause attrition, and some believe that a full-scale return to work will simply never happen altogether. Remote work has become not only more popular, but also the new norm with Americans 2.5 times more likely to apply for a remote job.Seen another way, before the pandemic, 1 in 67 jobs advertised were remote, now in 2022 it’s a whopping 1 in 7.
Companies continue to struggle with hybrid / entirely remote setups, managing employee mental health, redefining internal communication programs in a still uncertain environment. With over 50% of the global workforce prepared to quit and only 15% of employees looking to return to full-time office environments, Gartner estimates that organizations risk losing over a third of their workforce lest they adapt.
…Or The Great Reassessment?**
Resigning from a job is typically the result of a period of reflection. Companies don’t just experience resignations, rather, people like you and I go through a personal journey that can lead to change.
And what a journey it’s been these past two years, with almost everyone having the time and perspective to evaluate their life, and reassess their career goals.
Yes, the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us as we coped with remote work, extended periods of isolation, and complete disruption of our professional lives.
Rising from the ashes, however, is a sense of optimism. New expectations around work flexibility, equitable treatment, fair wages, and inclusive work environments are becoming the norm. The tables have turned and some believe that this is a fundamental talent revolution that has been simmering for years…with permanent ramifications.
At the same time, companies used this time to reassess the size and complexion of their workforce - wasting no time to trim costs. Nevertheless, now more than ever, the burden is on leadership to take an active role in creating a positive, engaging, and inclusive environment that inspires loyalty within their company.
What’s this got to do with software?**
When the world shut down, our laptops flipped open.
Remote work created an unprecedented need for business software and overnight we became denizens of Zoom (+insert other software here) for the long haul. We were compelled to adapt to a completely new dependence on software to connect and stay engaged. This translated to skyrocketing market value of public cloud companies, (doubling to $2.2T in a year) which fueled an unexpected tech rally that saw the Nasdaq rise 47% in 2020 and another 26% in 2021.
Technology certainly came to the rescue in many respects (imagine the pandemic without the ability to work…or binge Netflix!) but the flipside was clear: A landscape littered with layoffs, impacts on company culture, employee disengagement, unprecedented attrition, and unclear return-to-work plans.
The lasting impact of the pandemic will vary by company, industry, and country. Each company must take a look at their unique business, industry and market situation. Nonetheless, companies know they must re-assess how they attract, engage and retain employees for the long term.
A simple way to get started is to reflect how technology - and specifically software usage - has changed at your company. Dig into your data, speak with your teams and reflect on your company strategy to take proactive steps to address the positive and negative ramifications. Ask yourself:
People and Strategy:
- How do we reimagine the employee experience?
- How do we adjust to changing employee demand, increasing dependency on technology, and resulting company culture implications?
- Have we challenged our assumptions as a business to constantly adapt?
- Have you analyzed your business processes and how they stack up with the shift to remote work?
- Do we know the friction points that impeded teams from working better together (and may impact team culture)?
- How can we normalize the experience of remote and onsite employees?
- How have your software subscription mix changed?
- Which tools are you paying (much) more for, and which ones less?
- Beyond Zoom…which tools proved indispensable, and how do our employees use them now vs. before?
- Is there a hidden cost related to all the software your employees depend on?
It’s safe to say that this is a dynamic, consistently changing environment for both employers and employees with unclear long-term effects.
What seems clear though, is that we are in a multi-year re-evaluation on both sides of the coin that has just begun. In the meantime, as people re-evaluate their relationship to work, companies can take proactive steps to reflect on their strategy: what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be reimagined.