In the labour market, the pandemic has led to two major contrasts; massive job losses and the great resignation. The great resignation is a term that has been coined to demonstrate how workers across industries and career levels are quitting their jobs in leaps and bounds.
There are a number of reasons for this as we will look into shortly. We will also examine the question on whether as a HR professional or an executive it is worth conducting exit interviews.
Causes of the great resignation
As reported in the Standard, more than 40% of workers considered quitting their jobs in Kenya in 2021. The percentage is higher in other countries like the US which has been recording millions almost every month.
There are some reasons why this could be happening:
- Perceived demand
Generally, the resignations have been majorly by mid-level employees. While one would expect millenials who form a majority of the entry-level population, it is possible that financial insecurity and lack of demand could be making them to suppress the need. Some mid-level employees however know the ropes in the industry.
Also, looking at the financial effects of the pandemic, it is possible that employers feel that hiring entry-level employees will be riskier as there are minimal chances of in-person training. This may have led mid-level employees to believe that they will be on demand hence the resignations.
- Unmet expectations
While the pandemic affected everyone negatively, it challenged employers to look beyond the professional space into the personal lives of their employees and the link between them for high performance.
As a result, employees had expectations of what their employers should do for them. If such needs- voiced or unvoiced- were not met, then employees could have considered quitting. If they had contemplated quitting before the pandemic, then any crucial and unmet expectations solidified the reason.
We have an article on what to do if employees open up about their mental health struggles.
- Search for new opportunities
For some, the pandemic led to a shift in priorities that pushed them to pursue a ‘dream’ career. Some of those who had been struggling to manage home and work affairs saw the possibility of excelling in both by running businesses remotely or taking jobs that are fully remote. If their careers cannot offer that to desired levels, then the chances of them resigning increase.
Others have had the epiphany and the actual meaning that as the cliché goes, life is short. They are therefore driven to take the leap and follow their dreams that may or may not be related to their current careers.
Should you conduct exit interviews?
An exit interview gives you a glimpse of how workers are thinking. While as an executive you may be interested in your industry, some workers on the other hand look at other industries for working strategies, culture, etc. They may also experience some challenges more closely than executives.
While planning to conduct the exit interview, you should also be mindful of who will be doing it as that will determine the nature of the result. For instance, if the employee could not get along with the immediate manager, it is unlikely for him/her to agree to such an interview or give truthful information. The employees may also not reveal everything to a HR as they are careful not to burn bridges. The best thing would be to bring in a neutral candidate.
What to do when conducting the exit interview
- Present it in a forward-thinking manner
Losing an employee is costly, but the manner in which the exit interview is presented and conducted will determine whether the results will be useful or not. For instance, if the interviewer takes the resignation as a sign of ingratitude or deliberate interruption of activities and is determined to show that to the exiting candidate, then the results from the interview will not be useful. The candidate can also decline to take part, thus making the relationship sore.
On the other hand, letting the exiting candidate know that the feedback from the exit interview is essential for the growth of the company eases the tension and allows them to open up.
- Listen attentively
Some resignations are the culmination of unbearable challenges. As mentioned above, sometimes workers experience problems more closely than executives, for example bullying. Sometimes they may have alerted the relevant authorities and failed to get enough assistance.
Listening to such confessions allows the interviewer to know whether there are ways in which the organization has failed the employees. When such revelations are taken seriously, they can assist the managers to know who is also at risk of resigning, the impact of the issues, and insights on how to better the workplace culture.
- Seeing the exiting candidate as ambassadors
Some employers see the resignation as the end of the relationship. Sure, you may not cross paths with the exiting candidate for a while, but they may offer great value by giving positive reviews on websites such as Glassdoor or referring great talent thus saving you the talent search expenses.
The numbers for the resignation are fluctuating and researchers are predicting an increase in the coming days if some of the basic causes are not observed. This is therefore a challenge to the employers and executives to use the data to plan ahead.