The Great Resignation should come at no surprise. In fact, it’s been long overdue. Before the pandemic, leaders of the “Talent War” equipped themselves with trendy workplace perksfrom beer on-tap, to meditation booths, to… surprise trips to Vegas? But amidst the transition to remote work and ongoing global crises, these bells and whistles have lost their luster. Workers are now reevaluating their experience of work itself and seriously reconsidering their jobs as a result.
Burnout is often framed as the root cause to this Great Resignation, but mental health is only part of the picture. Mind Share Partners recently published our 2021 Mental Health at Work Report in partnership with Qualtrics and ServiceNow—a follow-up study to our 2019 Report. From our research, we’ve found that the issue with the Great Resignation is less about mental health. Instead, it’s fundamentally rooted in a broken culture of work.
The Great Resignation isn’t driven by the mental health of employees—it’s driven by employers themselves. Research has long shown that poorly managed workplace factors can cause diagnosable mental health conditions. In our study, 84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor that negatively impacted their mental health in the past yearmost commonly, emotionally draining work, which was also a workplace factor most commonly reported as having worsened since the pandemic.
We’re at a junction point. Employers must move beyond individualistic approaches to mental health and address the foundational elements of work that have long been left unresolved from work-life balance and flexibility, to a sense of feeling valued and connected, to how an organization’s culture helps—or hurts—the individual employee. And the solution has to work for all of us. Many historically underrepresented and disenfranchised groups still continue to face social, structural, and safety challenges at work. Significant investments in and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice are all necessary to bring about meaningful change for true mental health equity.
Ultimately, the Great Resignation isn’t a problem for employees to solve, nor cope through. It’s a problem for employers to decide for themselves how much they value their people.
Pretty much spot on. In effect, employers need to stop denying the reality of the workplace that they’ve helped to cultivate. They can change it, with the collaboration of their employees, if they have the courage to do so.