Why the Great Resignation Is a Great Opportunity for Your Association

You’ve probably seen headlines about “The Great Resignation”—the wave of people quitting their jobs. A Prudential survey says 26% of employees plan to look for a job at a different company once the pandemic has subsided. A Microsoft survey says it’s more—41%, and Monster.com says 95% of employees are now considering a job change. The current resignation rate is the highest ever reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since they began measuring it in 2000.

Why do so many people want to quit their jobs?

The pandemic has caused many of us to reassess priorities and values. People are giving serious thought to how they want to spend their time and live their lives. Many professionals were juggling responsibilities, working long hours, and dealing with stress, burnout, and exhaustion before the pandemic hit, then things got worse. For others, pandemic conditions allowed them to experience a better work-life balance.

54% of the people surveyed for the Microsoft survey said they’re overworked and 39% said they’re exhausted. Professionals are looking for jobs that align with the lifestyle they seek. Many are willing to take a cut in pay (or status) to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The decision to quit depends for many upon their employer’s decision to have staff return to the office or continue working remotely. If the decision goes the wrong way, they’ll leave to seek the work environment they prefer: in-person, hybrid, or remote.

80% of the people who said they’re quitting are concerned about career advancement—a perennial topic of concern for younger professionals. 72% said the pandemic made them rethink their skill sets. Many people want to move to less volatile industries.

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The role of associations in The Great Resignation

Just as associations have supported professionals and organizations during the COVID-19 crisis, you can also provide valuable services and resources during The Great Resignation to your industry, industry employers, professionals seeking a new job in your industry, professionals entering your industry, and retiring or downsizing professionals.

Help employers rise above The Great Resignation

Some industries and HR departments saw this coming and have taken steps to minimize the damage. HR and employer associations have been writing about and presenting programs on this issue. State hospital associations are hosting webinars.

But many industries and organizations have been caught off guard by The Great Resignation. Treat this issue like the crisis it is. Raise awareness through town halls and newsletter articles. Member employers need to learn about strategies for preventing and weathering this wave of resignations. Because they compete for talent, they aren’t likely to provide much peer support to each other, but as the industry leader, you can provide the guidance they need.

What would it take to get their employees to stay? Conduct an industry survey to find out what’s important right now to employees. The answers will vary by organization and employee segment, but you can shine a light on widespread problems.

An employer’s underlying issues must be resolved if they want to close the swinging door—and many issues can be traced back to culture. 42% of the people planning to leave their job give their company a grade of “C” or lower on office culture during the pandemic.

Prudential found that nearly half of remote workers are nervous about job security if they stay remote while colleagues return to the office, and the same percentage feels disconnected after a year of working remotely. Many companies desperately need training on remote/hybrid staff management. Provide training that teaches supervisors how to focus on what matters: an employee’s results, not the hours they spend on the keyboard. Employers must learn how to treat a hybrid workforce fairly, giving employees equal opportunities for collaboration, promotion, networking, and mentoring.

A Fast Company article explains the importance of culture in a competitive talent marketplace. “Employees stay because they feel emotionally attached—to the people, the culture, or the work itself—this is affective commitment… [People] have their eye out for organizations that genuinely care about their wellbeing and recognize the implications of affective commitment.”

Do your members realize how important wellbeing is for their employees and their productivity? Consider whether you should offer wellbeing education for employers and employees.

Study after study shows that employees seek career growth and professional development opportunities, but employers don’t always provide a budget or schedule flexibility to pursue education. If employers want to remain competitive in this jobhunters’ market, they must support lifelong learning for their employees. Promote your learning pathways, credentialing programs, conferences, and other educational programs to employers and their HR departments.

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Promote the industry/profession to career changers and young professionals

With so many professionals on the move and young people searching for a place to land, this is the optimal time to promote and attract people to your industry/profession. Double-down on your efforts to capture the interest of students, recent graduates, and young professionals—a wise investment in the future solvency of your association.

Many people who left service, retail, and hospitality jobs are seeking employment in less volatile industries. Does your industry have entry-level positions for people with service industry experience? Many associations offer bootcamp education or a 101 series of courses to help people get up to speed with new skills and knowledge. An entry-level credential can also help them stand out from the competition.

Stay connected with retiring and downsizing professionals

Many older professionals have decided they’ve had enough. They’re either retiring or downsizing their career by reducing the hours they work (or the intensity of their work) so they can focus on other aspects of life. Experienced professionals with more time on their hands are ideal candidates for volunteer positions.

However, if members are feeling pulled in too many directions, they could pull back from volunteer commitments. Stay alert to what might happen in the volunteer and leadership ranks at your association and chapters.

Keep in mind, these talented people are self-aware enough to make courageous moves in their career, so they’re not about to tolerate a mediocre volunteer experience. Because everyone is more aware of the value of time, you can’t waste anyone’s time. Members are seeking volunteer work that makes a difference—work that helps move your mission forward; work that has meaning and is tied to association strategy and goals.

In addition to purpose, volunteers (and members) are also looking for social connections. Schedule social and educational meetups where members can hang out online together (or in-person when the time is right) and develop and deepen relationships.

The Great Resignation will be hard on employers, but the smart ones will use it as an opportunity to improve their culture and practices. Educate member employers about the strategies they can adopt to become the employers of choice in your industry.

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