The tables have turned and the CEOs are the ones cowering in fear.
Just a few months ago most employees were clinging desperately to their jobs, scared that their company would be the next one to initiate a round of Covid layoffs or furloughs. No longer.
Now we’ve entered into the Hot Vax Summer era of hookups, quitting jobs and jumping into pools. Or in the case of one now famous Taco Bell employee, a large workplace sink.
Clearly, employers no longer hold the power. Instead of shying away from this new dynamic, I believe that bosses should embrace this change and meet their employees where they are.
First, a little background.
The Big Quit
The American “Big Quit,” or “Great Resignation” is a post-widespread-vaccination phenomenon that is touching everyone from McDonalds workers to software engineers. A record 4 million people quit their jobs in April, many of them in low-paid, inflexible industries like retail.
The same thing is starting to happen in higher paid jobs. Polls show that nearly 40% of white-collar employees would rather leave their jobs than give up remote work, and even highly sought after companies like Apple are scrambling to avoid mass resignations from return-to-office policies.
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For many CEOs who’ve spent the past 16 months focused on how to prevent layoffs, this rise in resignations may feel like a slap in the face. Instead, it should feel like a wake-up call to embrace the new humanization of work.
The Humanization of Work
Perhaps my favorite part of working remotely during Covid-19 has been the constant video parade of pets, partners and kids.
Recently I took a Friday afternoon video call while sitting on the ground with my 9 month-old daughter as she happily played with her toys. About ten minutes into the call, she decided that my computer was the best toy, began climbing on top of me, and with one spectacular dive into the keyboard, managed to hang up the call.
When I got back onto the call, the entire group was laughing. One of the fellow CEOs told me afterward that my video fiasco brought an immeasurable amount of much-needed joy to his week.
With so many white-collar workers working from home, there is no longer a separation between life and work. While this comes with its own set of challenges (read: baby hanging up your Zoom calls), it has also made many workers reconsider the type of work that works for them.
Workplace flexibility is the new money in today’s post vaccine economy. It’s the ability to walk your dog at 2 p.m., or drop off kids at 10 a.m. It’s in folding laundry while on a conference call, or going on a run in between meetings. Working remotely has enabled many white-collar workers to feel like they no longer had to choose between their work, family and well-being.
Three Questions Bosses Should Be Asking Themselves
This new dynamic can be a challenge for bosses who are used to measuring productivity by seeing who’s left in the office after 7 p.m. For those leaders and managers, I recommend asking three simple questions:
1) Did productivity of this person/team fall during quarantine? Research shows that focus and productivity improved
2) Do I need employees in the office full-time to reap the benefits of the office? Many companies are embracing the 3-2 model of three days in the office, 2 days remote
This is a moment for leaders to step up and reimagine how their workplace can be a flexible space. It’s time to create a workplace that encourages both productivity and quality of life. It is my hope that more bosses will embrace the humanization of work before the big quit hits their office.