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Economists, sociologists and others have spent most of the past year trying to figure out what’s causing the “great layoff”: the millions of people who have left their jobs. Was it wage stagnation? Job dissatisfaction? Pandemic security issues? All of the above?
One idea holds that the pandemic has caused many people to pause and re-evaluate what is most important in their lives. Leave, lockdowns and working from home allowed people to look at their lives and work with fresh eyes. They decided the drudgery of their jobs just wasn’t worth it anymore, so they resigned.
A recording 47 million Americans leave their jobs in 2021, and most reports say the trend is set to continue, with another 4.4 million people quitting in February. The same trend seems to be happens all over the world.
Related: What employers should have learned from the big layoff?
New research shows most business leaders are hovering near burnout
While the reasons people quit vary, there are some broad trends driving the Great Resignation, including the fact that many people are hovering near the possibility of burnout. How do we know? More than 3,000 business leaders and professionals told us through our Resilient Leader Assessment. This is a proprietary 16-question survey that we developed to help people determine some sort of credit score for resilience in four zones: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Some of our key findings include:
Overall, none of the average responses fell within the “green zone” for optimal resilience.
More than a third of all respondents scored in the ‘red zone’, where chronic stress and change make them vulnerable to acute events.
The average score of 64 out of a possible 100 means that many of us are hovering close to burnout.
Average physical resilience scores fall completely into the red (danger) zone, largely because of the amount of time business leaders spend on their smartphones. Many also report that they work evenings and weekends. They are afraid of losing their sharpness, so they work themselves to the bone, riding on that edge of overload.
This is an organizational problem, as many leaders model the kind of toxic behaviors that can lead to burnout for their teams.
Related: Experiencing Burnout? Here’s how to fix it.
Build resilience before you need it
The World Health Organization says burnout is caused by “chronic stress at work that has not been successfully managed”. It is characterized by “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from work, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to work; and decreased professional efficacy.”
Healthy organizations care about the health and resilience of their employees – not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. When leaders and employees become exhausted in any of these areas, they are more prone to burnout and more likely to quit. That’s why we need to take steps to build our resilience before we need it.
One of the ways organizations can fight burnout is by encouraging employees to set up and perform resilience rituals. These are things we do every day, or several times a day, to recharge, replenish, renew our energy, and recover from stress.
Building small, daily resilience rituals is an easy way to fund your resilience bank account before you need it. It may mean scheduling time to catch your breath between meetings. It could mean alternating days off, taking a walk outside, or simply weaving thoughts of gratitude through the day. By switching back and forth between intense activity, concentrated performance, and periods of rest and recovery, we develop resilience. Build recovery into your workday so you can switch back and forth between being “on”, with full focus and creativity in whatever you need to do for work, and “off” being truly at rest.
In addition to many people hovering near burnout, we found evidence of something else driving the Great Resignation: a mismatch between what leaders say is most important in their lives and how they actually use their time and energy. spend.
We asked people to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I am engaged in a livelihood that is consistent with my core values and beliefs.” Most people we surveyed agreed. But we also found broad agreement with these statements: “There are significant gaps between what I say is most important in my life and how I actually allocate my time and energy” and “I am not putting enough time and energy into making a positive difference to others or to the world.”
One of the reasons many people have quit their jobs is because they want to close the gap between what they say is most important in their lives and how they actually spend their time and energy. And when it comes to making a positive difference to others and the world, many people feel that they are not doing enough.
Every day we are bombarded with news about everything that is wrong in the world. So it’s only natural that caring, compassionate, empathetic people want to do something about it.
One of the ways we define resilience is how well we leverage change and leverage uncertainty as a catalyst for growth. The growth opportunity of the Great Resignation is for organizations to understand on a deeper level why people leave and respond in ways that make the workplace better for new employees and those who return.
Related: 5 Ways Leaders Can Fight a Burnout Culture
Listen to your employees
For too long, workplaces haven’t properly cared about the exhaustion of their employees and whether they spend time on what matters to them or what they get paid for. In many work cultures, people are unwilling to speak honestly about the stress they are experiencing or ask for help. Leaders can change that by speaking honestly and transparently and listening to the challenges and needs of their employees.
Organizations that are open to listening to what is really going on within the company learn what they need to help people grow. They can use that knowledge to create workplaces where people feel more valued and aligned with what is important to them, which in turn can lead to a new phase that we can call the Great Restoration.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.