The way people regard work is undergoing tremendous changes following the Covid crisis.
It is not generally understood that the inner processes people went through during this health crisis were very deep; and some of them are just being revealed now.
In 2021 we saw the “Great Resignation”. Where millions of people resigned from their workplace, often without an alternative job.
In some countries this movement amounted to an astounding 40% of the work force.
Studies show that the main reasons for this were jobs that were perceived as lacking any meaning, low wages, feeling overused, poor managers and unsuitable work conditions and environment.
In short, people wanted a change that would lead them to more meaningful work, with better conditions and a better attitude from their employers.
The current movement in the workplace is termed “Quiet quitting”.
This is most typical to the younger Y and Z generations of employees.
In essence it is a situation where employees remain in their current jobs but fulfill only the minimum requirements.
They refuse to work extra hours or to invest above and beyond their job description. The level of engagement with the workplace is declining.
It seems that a lot of employees want to set boundaries around their work in order to not be overused by their employers; and moreover, they do not consider their jobs to be the main anchor around which they build their identity. This is another post Covid revolution.
For managers and organizations this is a serious headache, given that since the industrial revolution they have gotten used to demanding that employees give everything to their work, that they sacrifice their personal lives and all of their energy, often without the corresponding payment or suitable conditions.
Why is this happening now?
I believe that this phenomenon has deep roots.
The first root is the fact that most workers still use the model of survival and not the model of Greatness in the way they select their career path.
In other words, their choices are based on opportunities to make a living and not on their passion, their core capabilities, and the possibility to fulfill themselves at work. This career path leads people to be mediocre at work and to miss out on the deeper meaning that self-fulfilling work can provide.
“If I work just for the pay check, why should I invest above and beyond?”
The second root is that most organizations still view each employee as a resource to be used and not as a whole person that wants to contribute, have meaning in their work, feel well treated, and have the possibility to grow and develop.
Until organizations deeply change their culture to accommodate this shift in their employees’ needs, the phenomena that we see will simply increase in different forms. “In my company they do not really care about us, why should we care overly much about them?”
The third root is most managers’ lack of capability to deal with the deeper needs of their employees in terms of the meaning, belonging and care in the workplace.
Most managers were never trained to handle these aspects of leading people and they find themselves incapable of handling these post pandemic requirements. It is important that managers now use a more participative type of leadership and more of a coaching approach to their employees, attending to their deeper needs.
Organizations where managers have developed this type of leadership are much less affected by resignations or quiet quitting.
“My manager coaches me, listens to me and cares about my development” (from Google Oxygen study about the characteristics of their best managers globally).
Therefore, the answer to employees’ needs today is not just a larger pay check. What is needed is an integral approach that deeply shifts the organization’s inner culture to truly become employee centric.
Moreover, it is necessary to develop managers and leaders at all levels, to adapt their leadership style to what their people really need from them now.