The workplace matters in the aftermath of the Great Resignation

When the history of the COVID-19 pandemic is written, the economic and cultural impact of the disease will surely include the Big resignation. An unprecedented 45 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in 2021. In January 2022 alone, 4.3 million workers left their jobs according to Bureau of Labor Statistics The figures.

Many employees quit for what they believed to be greener pastures. Others have sought sabbatical ‘9 to 5’ employment, while still others have entered a period of ‘perpetual retirement’ where they have left the workforce but, for various reasons, are expected to return, perhaps be cyclical.

deep transformation

Behind the exodus lies a deeper transformation: American workers are demanding a reassessment of the contractual nature of work – and the power is in their hands.

The relationship between employer and employee is changing and employers are no longer in the driver’s seat. To cope, American companies must not only adopt these new attitudes, but also use them as catalysts for change.

The Big Resign is also a “Big Judgment” that requires organizations to take concrete steps to improve the overall employee experience. Before the pandemic, a positive experience relied heavily on perks like free lunches, gym memberships, and in-person events. The sweeping changes wrought by the pandemic, however, have forced a reconsideration of the very nature of work.

Employees today do a lot of introspection about what’s most important to them. How, when and where work is done has changed; it caused people to rethink their work, personal pursuits, and larger life goals. Their decisions will have a huge impact on the employment landscape.

To attract and retain talent in this new era, employers must face the fact that one size fits all is no longer enough. Now is the time to engage employees in meaningful conversations, to listen and to act.

Fostering cultural change

The first step is to accurately identify employee needs and concerns, a process that will require intentional awareness and a willingness to hear what is being said. In our new hybrid reality, managers don’t have the opportunities or the means to engage their teams like they did just a few years ago. Face-to-face interaction is not as frequent, which means that discovering what really matters to employees will require proactive, intentional and continuous research into the diverse, hidden and, above all, holistic needs of individuals.

Holistic wellness is a concept that most employers haven’t had to deal with in the past. This new era of work requires meeting the needs of the whole person, including their physical, mental, financial and social health.

It is not easy to clearly capture such a deep range of imperatives. It takes trust and a sense of security and belonging employees ; employers, for their part, will only be able to foster these traits through commitment and a culture of care. Every employee, from every employee population, should not only feel safe and welcome at work, but also empowered to discuss their individual needs and concerns.

Wellness redefined

The second step is to take action. This will require both leadership and empathy as the focus of wellness has changed. Stress and burnout are commonplace among the global workforce. The shift to more mixed work and family life, along with caregiving, organizational changes, unfamiliar workflows and new forms of team communication erupted virtually overnight. Each new day of the pandemic has brought with it a new challenge, leading to heightened anxiety.

As well-being has broad implications, it is essential to address the needs of the whole person, not just job-specific factors such as autonomy and career growth. Financial well-being, for example, is one such undisclosed need. For some people, the pandemic has actually been beneficial, as they have been able to focus on their spending and increase their savings. Many others, however, are under considerable financial strain. Family members may have lost their jobs or been pressured to leave the workforce to care for their children or aging parents, which has significantly affected financial reserves.

Make no mistake – when personal finances are at risk, the entire workplace is affected. BrightPlan’s Well-being Barometer Survey 2021 found that financially stressed employees lost more than 15 hours of productivity per week, translating into a $244 billion impact for U.S. employers each year. Supporting workers in times of financial difficulty and providing them with the tools and resources to achieve their financial and personal goals is beneficial for both employers and employees.

Professional well-being also requires a new definition. Employers need to think about how they provide opportunities for career growth and development, as well as how to increase retention through greater job mobility. Traditional conferences and technical training, for example, are undergoing a permanent transformation through virtual options. The definitions of success are also changing. Managers, HR leaders and the C-Suite will need to assess their approach to helping employees develop and deepen their skills.

Tailored rewards

An organization that fosters a culture of caring, empathy and inclusion will deliver the well-being employees seek. People are more likely to stay in a workplace that genuinely cares about them, understands them, and supports them on many levels, from physical, financial, and professional well-being to relational and even generational concerns.

The Grand Judgment is the result of trends that most employers have likely missed, ranging from burnout to demands from outside of work. If identified and addressed, the exodus to greener pastures, sabbaticals and retirement could be mitigated. Organizations need to start looking to total rewards as an employee retention strategy.

We are in an age where employees expect a comprehensive set of rewards tailored to their specific needs. Different employee populations care about different things. Some benefits will be standard, but others will need to be flexible and personalized, even by the employees themselves. Family leave, flextime, gym memberships, paid time off, and even pet insurance all have their place in a solid stash of rewards alternatives.

Keeping valuable employees on the job is rarely about pay and bonuses. Creating a culture of care is essential. Employers need to ensure that workers have a clear idea of ​​what their job represents and provides. Mental health services, child care, elder care, financial planning and other forms of support are very meaningful and compelling forms of compensation.

Total involvement

A phenomenon as vast as this calculation requires the attention of more than the HR team. Everyone from C-level executives to middle managers and even the board must be involved in finding solutions.

For innovation and productivity to thrive, every organization must create a culture that treats all employees with the care and respect they deserve. The big resignation has been a wake-up call for employers of all sizes, in all sectors. The intensity of their listening, their caring and their compassion will determine their success in the years to come.


Martin DeBeer is founder and CEO of BrightPlana financial wellness platform.


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