Image credits: Ono Kosuki
News Article

The Empowered Post-Pandemic Worker

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Thu, 09/23/2021 - 09:45

The Great Resignation, an ongoing phenomenon that began in information economies like the United States, is projected to make its way to Mexico. Based on the observed consequences, companies should be prepared to meet the demands of the post-pandemic worker.

The post-pandemic worker is characterized by a newfound autonomy and disposition to preserve their safety, demand fair compensation and maintain a healthy work-life balance—even at the expense of their job or career. These new expectations were formed in quarantine when people learned to value their health and set their own schedules. In light of this lived experience, returning to the office under pre-COVID-19 norms was perceived as an unmistakable step backwards, an infringement on what they now considered basic worker rights. Given the observed wave of resignations, apparently, its not something many are willing to compromise on any longer.

In short, while the employee has changed, the standards under which they are expected to perform have not, and this is the underlying problem driving the great resignation. An analysis of trillions of labor signals across Microsoft and LinkedIn found that over 40 percent of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer, according to Work Trend Index. In the US, where the phenomenon has been most visible, some 4 million people had quit their jobs in July 2021 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This outcome indicates that there is a current disconnect between employees and employers on what the work model should look like.

Employers that have failed to heed and adapt the new demands of their employees have seen the most turn over and loss of experienced human capital. A global study of more than 4,000 companies by the Harvard Business Review revealed two key trends and how to increase employee retention. First, resignation rates are highest among mid-level career employees between the ages of 30 and 45 years old, who given their mobility have the greatest leverage against their employer. Second, resignations have not been uniform across the market. The Health and Technology sectors which bore the brunt of the social change brought on by the pandemic has seen the greatest turn over rates due to burnout. In contrast, manufacturing and finance sectors, which contracted during the pandemic, actually saw resignations decrease.

The loss of experienced personnel has a direct effect not only on companies’ operational performance but also to their bottom line, thereby forcing entire market sectors to explore and develop employee retention strategies. Unable to keep pace with the rate of resignations and the current scarcity of qualified applicants, companies have had to scale back on their hiring criteria and expend additional time and money to train new hires. The Harvard Business Review study cites an example of a trucking company that identified what was on paper a small turnover was actually costing them millions of dollars. This actually points to the need of a data-driven approach when forming retention strategies in order to avoid glossing over potential problems or misinterpreting causation.

After seeing the cumulative effects of this phenomenon employers are now concentrating their efforts towards retention; and while data is important, the central advisor should be the employees that make up the company body. From here the autonomous post-pandemic worker will have a greater say in the work model as long as they continue to uphold their newfound work-life expectations. Since the market is in the process of correcting itself, it remains to be seen how both employers and employees agree on what this final work model will look like.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Work Trend Index, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Harvard Business Review
Photo by:   Ono Kosuki
Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst