In 1977 there was a popular song by country music artist Johnny Paycheck titled “Take this job and shove it.” The song was #1 on the country music charts and even crossed over into the pop music charts because it really resonated with people across America at that time.
Fast forward 40 years and that sentiment takes on new relevance as America and other countries globally experience what many have referred to as The Great Resignation. In 2021, some 47.8 million workers quit their jobs, which translated to about 4 million resignations each month, up from 3.5 million job quitters in 2019, according to SHRM data. And while resignations have slowed in the current year, signs indicate that the phenomenon is continuing, albeit at a slightly lower rate with one in five workers saying they plan to quit or change jobs in 2022, according to some estimates based on global surveys of workers.
With America experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in about 50 years at 3.5%, this presents a real challenge and concern for employers given shifting employee expectations. It’s no longer an employer’s market, it’s now an employee-focused market and they’re making demands that their bosses can’t afford to ignore.
Factors Driving Job Resignations
Some have attributed the COVID Pandemic as a primary driver of this historic job movement, and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, it’s probably more correct to look at the Pandemic as a factor that sped up the pace of people quitting, not the only reason by far.
Of course, things like retirements of the Baby Boomer generation are impacting the statistics, as is the demand for things like work/life balance, childcare expenses, pay issues, and according to many younger workers “toxicity in the workplace culture.”
So it’s evident organizational culture is also a major driver of resignations and culture is where diversity, equity, and inclusion contribute in a major way to attracting talent, not repelling them.
The DEI Factor
The Kaleidoscope Group’s weekly podcast Becoming Inclusive tackled the issue with host Reggie Ponder and guests Chere Nabor and Melanie Munoz, both DEI consultants, offering their insights. Given the diversity of the participants—on racial, ethnic, gender, and generational levels—the discussion reveals very interesting and often conflicting perceptions of what the rate of resignations means for both workers and employers.
After a lot of discussion, with Ponder playing devil’s advocate, the three were able to reach a consensus in concluding that employers needed to be creative and open to hearing the demands of workers and acting on those demands—among them more representation from women and minorities, more commitment to social justice issues, and more ethical behaviors writ large.