For all the hand wringing about the current “Great Resignation,” the reality is that we should have seen this coming. Long before the pandemic, there were signs that more than a few employees were unhappy. And as the pandemic progressed, even more worrying signals emerged.
These are just two of the warning signs that the Great Resignation was imminent; there are dozens more. The point, however, is that the current exodus was predictable. Whether we discovered this through surveys or simply listening to employees, the signs were there. The big question for every executive moving forward is whether we want to start listening to avoid this problem again in the future.
Note how this “ignoring of reality” within the workplace over the past couple of decades shows the cognitive dissonance of management in these companies. In effect, they didn’t want to believe that things were beginning to fall apart and no longer working effectively, which would mean that they weren’t effective at their job anymore, so they just ignored it and believed that everything was fine. But you can only ignore reality for so long.
And a further downside of this is that the more things fall apart, the more management will try to take more control of things, thus making things worse because it causes more burnout of staff who actually want management to let go of control, giving them the autonomy and responsibility to do their work on their own through a collective sense of leadership instead.
For myself, these signs have been blatantly obvious since the Dot-Com Bubble burst in 2001 and they’ve only been building since then. So the pandemic isn’t causing these issues in the workplace today. All it’s doing is bringing them all to the surface so that they can no longer be ignored. That’s because whereas before people’s livelihoods we’re on the line in the past, now their literal lives are on the line and it’s making them question everything about their world and the way work has been done within it.