By now, we are all familiar with the idea of a Great Resignation. Some are beginning to suggest that it will come to a screeching halt if the country enters a recession sometime this year (2022) or early next. In the meantime, if behooves employers to figure out the main reasons behind the Great Resignation. At the heart of it are systemic changes in the modern workforce.
As baby boomers age out and enter retirement, the bulk of the workforce will be made up of Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. Indeed, that shift has already begun in earnest. As those older workers sunset their careers, younger workers are taking a more prominent place. And the fact is, younger workers see the world differently.
At BenefitMall, a Dallas-based general agency that works with more than one hundred insurance carriers and thousands of brokers and benefits agents around the country, they have been focusing a lot of attention on the Great Resignation and what it means to the benefits industry. They say the following five things are driving change in the modern workforce:
1. The COVID Pandemic
Few things have had as profound an impact on the workforce as the COVID pandemic. Perhaps the only other thing we could compare it to is the Great Depression. Because COVID forced so many systemic changes, people began examining their priorities. They started rethinking what was truly important.
As we emerge on the other side of the pandemic, it is glaringly apparent that the workforce is no longer interested in continuing the grind mentality. Family is too important. In fact, a lot of things are more important than grinding away for the sole purpose of increasing company profits and making shareholders happy. The people who do the actual work have had enough of it.
2. The Gig Economy
Many people whose jobs were displaced by the pandemic decided not to collect unemployment or wait around to get the call back. They took advantage of the gig economy. Some went to work as subcontractors providing gig services. Others started their own businesses. The net effect is that a growing segment of the population has decided it no longer needs traditional employment.
3. A Rethinking of Benefits
How the younger workforce views employment benefits is also changing. For baby boomers and Gen X, expectations were pretty simple. A good health insurance option and a retirement plan were enough. Millennials and their younger counterparts do not see things that way. With the costs of health insurance going up and policies covering less, employees want more. More importantly, they want more voluntary and non-compensatory benefits.
4. A Willingness to Fail
Younger workers, especially members of Gen Z are no longer obsessed with the world’s definition of success. They are willing to fail, believing that failure makes them better. Therefore, they are also willing to jump ship and look elsewhere if they are unhappy with their current employment. They do not see themselves as company men and women the way the baby boomer generation does.
5. A New Self Responsibility
Rounding things out is a new self-awareness. The workforce has become painfully aware of the fact that their jobs can be taken away in a heartbeat. This is causing a lot of people to take personal responsibility for their own careers instead of letting their employers handle it.
The workforce is changing. Much of the change was spurred by a pandemic that exposed things previously obscured by a robust economy and a generally easy life. How companies respond to the changes will determine their future success.