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Is the Great Resignation a Reality?

“We are coming back this fall. It will be voluntary at first. By the end of the year, I do anticipate a full return to the office. However, we are going to have to bake in a whole lot more flexibility than we’ve offered previously. That is going to pose some challenges.”

I wasn’t surprised one bit by this CEO’s assertion during a strategy call this week. He wants to preserve a culture that aligns with what the best talent wants, and he understands that the landscape has changed.

We have entered a period of time where, “for the first time in a generation, workers are gaining the upper hand,” as noted by Neil Irwin in his recent New York Times article “Workers Are Gaining Leverage Over Employers Right Before Our Eyes.”

Is the Great Resignation upon us? Texas A&M University professor Anthony Klotz predicts that is exactly what will happen when people are asked, or told, to return to their offices and the old reality of the commute, a nine-to-five job and cubicle life

The argument is that, in times of uncertainty and insecurity — like during a global pandemic — people behave conservatively. They’ll stay put. But once things “normalize” again, we ought to expect employees to head for the exits.

Will they? Like most complex things, it depends. However, what is abundantly clear is that employee attitude and expectations are evolving.

Nearly 90% of knowledge workers say that when they search for a new position, they will look for one that offers complete flexibility in their hours and geographic location, according to Citrix Research. In addition, 76% of the workers polled believe that employees will be more likely to prioritize family and personal interests over proximity to work. According to Citrix, it’s expected that workers will pursue jobs in locations where they can focus on lifestyle factors (family, friends, personal interests) even if it means taking a pay cut.

Employees are realizing that making a move and even finding a new career is an option. According to a recent Forbes article, there were 1.4 million fewer mothers in the workforce in January 2021 than one year earlier, while applications to law and medical schools have significantly jumped.

If it isn’t a Great Resignation, it’s most certainly a Great Reset in what we prioritize in our lives. The question becomes, how should employers respond?


    About Ryan Estis

    Ryan Estis understands the challenges business leaders and top performers face, because he’s been in their shoes. He spent 15 years helping companies connect with employees and customers as an ad agency executive, building a client roster of category leading brands.

    He inspires audiences with practical insight, plenty of energy and powerful, relevant stories that resonate long after the meeting ends. Attendees walk away with a specific plan for applying new ideas once they get back to work.

    His clients include AT&T, Motorola, MasterCard, Adobe, MassMutual, the National Basketball Association, the Mayo Clinic, Honeywell, Thomson Reuters, Ernst & Young, Lowes and Prudential.

    To Learn more about Ryan Estis contact [email protected]

    Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency  www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]