The Great Resignation
He may not know it, but I think I'm somewhat indebted to Graham Robertson.
Not just because he's agreed to join my class on a few different occasions to share his extensive marketing expertise with my students.
And not just because he's often engaged with me on debates, challenging my thinking on several occasions and making me smarter in the process.
But because he's published such great material, both on his Beloved Brands website and in his Beloved Brands book, that's helped me quite a bit in various ways over the years.
So when Graham reached out to ask me if I'd consider contributing a few thoughts for an article he's writing on "The Great Resignation", I leapt at the chance to give a tiny bit back.
What follows are my responses to the five questions he asked me to answer.
1) What are you seeing or hearing as the main reasons for the great resignation in the marketing space?
Marketers are knowledge workers, and based on what I've seen and heard, the pandemic did two things for knowledge workers.
First, it showed them how effectively most of them could do their jobs from outside of the office. Companies that resisted any sort of work-from-home arrangements prior to 2020 were forced to adapt to the circumstances created by the pandemic, and subsequently, many were forced to admit their initial reluctance to offer this flexibility to their workforces was unwarranted.
And second, it showed knowledge workers how much money they saved by not having to commute every day, and how much better they could spend the time they used to spend travelling to and from an office: exercising, pursuing a hobby, spending quality time with their loved ones.
So a knowledge worker's work can be done effectively from offsite, and their quality of life improves when they work from home... but for some reason, some companies now want everybody to return to the office five days a week?
At best, that shows a company favours an outdated command-and-control structure that knowledge workers no longer need to tolerate, and at worst, it demonstrates a complete lack of respect for a workers' life outside of work.
In any case, knowledge workers have seen a preferred way of working, and they're looking for (and moving to) companies that are offering them greater flexibility.
2) Has the internet hiring and managing of people made it more impersonal and does that contribute to making it easier to quit?
Admittedly, it's much more difficult to feel attached to a company when you've never met any of your colleagues in person... And that lack of connection certainly makes it easier to leave an organization when a better opportunity comes along.
But let's not pretend that bringing everyone back to the office five days a week will fully address this problem. Decades ago, when you joined an organization, it was reasonable to think you would retire with that same company. That idea is long gone. People have become more disillusioned with companies in general over the years; they recognize that most will put their bottom lines before their people if that choice has to be made. And as such, workers have learned to become less attached and less reliant on companies as a simple self-preservation mechanism.
3) Do you see any generational differences for why this great resignation might be happening?
I suspect younger workers have never experienced the type of loyalty to an organization that I described above, so they feel less attachment to begin with.
Also, it's easier and far less risky to decide you're fed up with an organization and want to leave for greener pastures when you're young and unattached, versus when you're older have greater financial responsibilities. If you have a mortgage and a family, you might be more willing to put up with a more inflexible environment in exchange for a stable paycheck and benefits.
Finally, age discrimination is real: it's often more difficult for older workers to get hired when they find themselves unemployed for any period of time. And as such, they may be less likely to leave a stable job without having something else lined up because of the fear they may not be able to easily secure their next opportunity.
4) Do you think the pandemic and working from home has added to the great resignation?
The pandemic was the spark that lit the fire, without question. People have seen there's a better way of working, and have become unwilling to go back to the way things were if they can do anything about it.
5) Do you think people are running away from the job, or running towards freedom?
People are running towards freedom. They're running towards a better quality of life, and if that means running away from companies that don't want them to have that, well, so be it.
P.S. I'm doing my very first "Instagram Live" tomorrow, talking about a subject near and dear to my heart: The Importance of Brand. I'll share the complete video on this platform when the final video is ready, but if you have some time tomorrow at 1 pm EST, I hope you'll join us live on Amanda's channel (@promanda)!