The Great Resignation

Recently Radio Host David Rancken from KRLD NewsRadio 1080 in Dallas contacted me about doing an interview on The Great Resignation. His questions and my answers follow.

David Rancken:

Hey, Shannon. First off, we have to define The Great Resignation. That name has been getting thrown around a lot lately. What is it?

Shannon McKain:

Thank you so much for having me on your show. The Great Resignation is a term coined at the beginning of the pandemic by a professor at Texas A&M. He predicted that this fallout was going to happen. The Great Resignation is simply saying that employees are quitting their jobs left and right.

David Rancken:

There is something to be said for the dynamic shifting some. It has gone from employers have all the control, to now the employees having a little bit more than they would have prior to the pandemic.

Shannon McKain:

Absolutely. It’s important to note that The Great Resignation is talking about employees voluntarily leaving their jobs. It’s not about unemployment or employees that are being let go. So, yes, in a sense, it all comes back to supply and demand. If employees aren’t willing to work under the restrictions or terms and conditions that an employer has, then they’re not going to work for them right now. So that’s the name of the game.

David Rancken:

So why would an employee decide to leave one company to go to another? Is there any guarantee that the other company’s going to be any better?

Shannon McKain:

I don’t know that there’s necessarily a guarantee, but it’s certainly an interesting shift that we’re seeing right now. And I think you just have to look at behaviors and psychology. This even goes prior to the pandemic and The Great Resignation. If you think about generationally, we’ve seen the most recent generations not as loyal as previous generations were to maybe one or two employers. And so, maybe this grass is greener mentality or just the advancement of technology and the opportunities that we have today that weren’t there 40, 50, 60 years ago that you have access to so many more types of jobs and types of employment. And so, therefore, employees can say, “Hey, we want to name the terms.”

David Rancken:

Previous generations would have seen on their resumes if they had multi jobs and multiple companies over a short period of time. They would be considered less hirable.

Shannon McKain:

Correct. Or considered what we would call job hoppers and somebody that wouldn’t stay with us. So therefore, we don’t really want to hire them. But, again, that mentality is shifting today.

David Rancken:

So what industries get hit at the hardest by the great resignation?

Shannon McKain:

We’re still looking at that data, but if you look at an overall whole of the information, we’re really seeing that food and service industry-related, also healthcare, and retail types of positions. Those are the three industries that we’re seeing have been hit the hardest over the last year, year and a half.

David Rancken:

If you’re on some kind of a career path, you know you want to be at a certain point at a certain period of your time. If you decide you’re going to leave at one company and then go to a different company, aren’t you starting out at the bottom, and doesn’t that hurt your path?

Shannon McKain:

It’s an interesting question you raise. But what I’m seeing right now with a lot of the employers that my team recruits for, and also looking at the trends and the data and analytics, is that because companies need employees so badly right now, companies are willing to offer new incentives or different types of incentives than we’ve seen before. So it’s not just like, “Oh, you’re now the new low man on the totem pole again, but now maybe we will raise other benefits that you maybe already had, and we’ll get in a raise to keep you, or to get you to come over to us.

David Rancken:

You bring it up that companies are now looking to hire people. Does that mean they have to lower their standards in the kinds of people that they’re going to take on because they need to fill quotas of just bodies?

Shannon McKain:

So that’s another interesting question. With the employers and the CEOs of companies that my team works with, they are not willing to settle just to put a body in a seat. In one sense, it creates a different stress on the current employees because there is a workload that still needs to be accomplished. However, I understand and respect the employers that I’m working with, that they say no: we don’t want to change our workplace culture solely to just go grab candidate A or candidate B. If they don’t fit, they don’t fit. And we’re willing to hold out until we find the right fit.

David Rancken:

How tough is it then for companies, employees that are already there? They’ve given their years. They’ve given their blood, sweat and tears to the particular job they have, to see their company going out and looking to recruit as much as possible. What’s in it for the people to stay where they are?

Shannon McKain:

Yeah. Well, I think in the circumstances that I’ve seen over the last year is that in most circumstances, it’s because the company is expanding. So these are new roles they’re looking to fill. It’s not necessarily because they’ve let somebody go or that they’re looking to let people go. So from that perspective, the psychology is great. Th current employees understand that, “Hey, things are going great here. We’re looking to add more team members to the table.” And I think it all comes back to, again, communication and psychology. If you’re communicating to your current staff, “Hey, this is what we’re trying to achieve here. And if you’ll just bear with us, it might take us a few more months to find the right person. But if you’ll just bear with us.” Then I think it just alludes itself to saying, “Hey, we all understand, and are in agreement about what we’re trying to achieve.”

David Rancken:

Is it a good thing to change companies every so often just to learn a different way of doing something that it could be better for you?

Shannon McKain:

Well, I’m a millennial and I probably come from the mindset that, yes, absolutely. I don’t think it hurts anything to maybe switch it up every three, four, maybe five years. From a recruiting standpoint, it’s an unofficial line where we say, if somebody’s with a company at about seven years, seven years is that marker of saying, we don’t think that that person’s really going to leave, or at least they’re not going to leave as readily as somebody who’s only been there a couple of years. So, from my standpoint, the advantages and the gain of maybe changing it up a little bit is not only monetarily, but as to your point that you can learn new skills and you can learn new perspectives.

David Rancken:

So what happens when an employee says, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m going to another company.” And then they find out that company is worse. Will they go walking back to the old place with their tail between their legs, and will that old place take them back?

Shannon McKain:

Well, again, I can’t speak for others, but what I’ve seen over the last year is that companies know what the market looks like right now. And they know that it’s so much harder right now to be able to find somebody if they have to replace someone. So they’re doing anything and everything they can to keep their current employees. Just to give you a couple of examples, I’ve never seen so many companies so aggressive with increasing pay. Now, this gets into a double-edged sword here because, at the end of the day, human beings are not motivated by money. They’re really not. There are so many other motivating factors that go into why somebody gets up every day, performs the job that they do, goes in and selects the type of work that they want to do and or who they want to work for.

We have a misconception that people are going to be satisfied with an increase in pay. I’ll get to that in a second, but it is happening. And I think employees are “chasing the shiny object syndrome” right now because we are seeing such an inflation in people’s pay and salaries. So again, it’s a double-edged sword. People are getting thrown money at them left and right to either stay or to be recruited to another company. And then, ultimately, at the end of the day, I think we all need to asking ourselves, really, what’s going to make us most happy, most productive, and want to be able to give 110% in our careers?

David Rancken:

Are employees getting smarter about what to ask for from a company?

Shannon McKain:

I think as a culture, we are all getting smarter about what we want out of our lives. The American way or the Western way is that you live to work. You are supposed to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week and not say anything about it. And I think that we’re just getting smarter as humans saying, “Hey, that’s not realistic anymore.”

David Rancken:

Is it the whole concept because the phrase work-life balance has become so popular in the last couple years, especially during the pandemic?

Shannon McKain:

Yes.

David Rancken:

We worry more about making sure we have a balance in our lives.

Shannon McKain:

Yeah, absolutely. #WorkLife balance. Look, at the end of the day, human beings are complex individuals. We have so many different interests. We have so many different pieces of our lives that pull us in different directions. And so, really trying to find that balance and what works. I think also too, the one size fits all mentality, it’s just not applicable anymore. Again, humans are complex creatures, and we need to really understand those intrinsic values and motivations.

David Rancken:

One last question. How long does The Great Resignation last?

Shannon McKain:

Oh, my goodness gracious. I think we were really surprised with the data that just came out from November. We kept seeing this trend of increasing resignations from month, to month, to month, and then it dipped in October. And we thought maybe this is the end of it. But then November, we just saw a record high of 4.5 million resignations. Golly. I think we’ve still got a few months ahead of us here.

David Rancken:

. A follow-up to that one. In another survey you found, almost 30% of people are willing to leave their jobs even if they don’t have another job lined up. They must be really confident they’re going to find something quick.

Shannon McKain:

The psychology behind that, I personally don’t understand. I personally would never put myself in a situation like that. But I guess if the rhetoric that you’re hearing on a daily basis is that there’s all these openings, then maybe yeah. Maybe it is affecting people’s thought process and how they handle that.

David Rancken:

People looking more at jobs versus career. I mean, looking to do, I’m going to do something like this right now, five years from now, maybe doing something different.

Shannon McKain:

I don’t know if the trajectory is still the same as it was 20, 30, 40 plus years ago. We were conditioned to believe that you go to primary school, then college, and then you enter the workforce at the bottom and then you work your way up to management, middle management. And again, I just don’t know if that’s the mindset people have anymore. Again, going back to the idea that we really are honing in on this idea of work-life balance, and mental health, and really trying to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally, that a job is a job, and it pays the bills, and it’s not the same as building a career.

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