How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your job? Have you gone virtual? Have you been furloughed or laid off? Have you considered leaving your job or changing careers? Since the pandemic started, there has been a rise in job loss and employees quitting their jobs, so much so that economists and organizational psychologists are dubbing this The Great Resignation.
Why is this happening?
Burnout – especially for those in frontline industries like healthcare, education and hospitality – is the main culprit. For others, uncertainty and lack of support are major factors. I don’t know about you, but there hasn’t been a day since March 2020 that I haven’t heard a teacher or nurse say they are exhausted. I have heard parents talk about (and experienced firsthand) the hardship of virtual learning and daycares being closed. Unfortunately, our workforce was not prepared for a global pandemic, and we are seeing the effects.
What can employers do?
It’s no surprise that employers are frantic. Being understaffed leads to a number of consequences, business closure being one of them. So how can employers keep their employees?
Communicate: Employees are concerned about the security of their jobs. Organizations need to be transparent about where the organization stands. Is the organization in a good place, or is it floundering? Employees deserve to know. In crises, employees' mental and physical health will suffer. Being transparent eases that and helps them know what to prepare for.
Empathize: Help employees feel safe enough to share their concerns and needs by being empathetic. In particular, organizational leaders must be empathetic to their employees' change in motivation and strive to meet their psychological need for security in these difficult times.
Be flexible: With the ever-changing pandemic situation, employers need to stay flexible. Children keep going from in-person instruction to virtual, daycares keep closing, and all the while employees need to keep working to support their families. To help employees manage their household and care for their children, allow them to break their workday into shorter intervals. When possible, keep remote or hybrid work an option.Employers must realize that their employees are not machines, but humans that have very human needs. Frontline workers, especially those who cannot work remotely, need extra care and empathy from their employers. It’s time for employers to make some organizational changes to support our current environment. While, yes, there is a shortage of workers in all industries, working employees harder is not going to make things better, only worse.
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