If someone has not told you that “no one wants to work” in the last three months during what we’ve been calling a Great Resignation, consider yourself blessed. I’ve heard it a million time – on planes, trains, and from every client struggling to hire hourly workers. No lie, I was sitting next to a preacher on an airplane a few weeks ago and he said it. Even Jesus is having trouble hiring.
Every time it comes up, I bite my tongue. I know they’re frustrated and trying to figure out one of the hardest talent markets they’ve seen. Thousands of employers across the country are seeing drops in applications and increases in resignations. Everything is in shift.
It reminds me a lot of the feeling of constant change I experienced during the last big R of my career: the Great Recession.
Great Resignation Flashback:The Great Recession of 2008
I remember spinning in my chair in a big open space conference room. Everyone was gone. All the desks sold off.
I remembered what made it feel full – my friends. The employees that were laid off in the last 6 weeks because we ran out of funding. The deep conversations behind closed office doors. The connections we built, not just with each other but our families. I went on my very first business trip with that team – a trip to Seattle that changed everything for this army brat that never saw the Pacific Ocean before.
There I was. Two years out of college and looking for a job in a recession. I don’t think I understood what was really happening or how bad it was. I had no idea where I would go next. I was lucky not to be tied to any one place because my next move was to go on Monster.com and type in “social media manager” and set the location as anywhere.I would zoom out and see where the most jobs were located. I would move there.
The winner? Boston. I packed up and moved there, no shit. Plot twist: I got a job at Monster.com.
The Great Realization: It’s A Candidate Market
But the fact is? Most stories don’t have that magic about them. Reality lacks that allure. Most people have a lot on the line when they lose a job. They can’t just pick up their family and everything they own to move to whatever city has the most jobs.
When people talk about “oh no one wants to work” and this Great Resignation, that’s where I go first. Remembering all the people who lost their jobs. Then their houses. All the while feeling so powerless. They wanted to work. I genuinely believe most people do – no matter the market dynamics.
Let’s get this out of the way. People want to work. I won’t discuss that. They don’t want to work for a wage that doesn’t pay for their life. They don’t want to go into offices during a global pandemic. They are tired of your subpar parental leave and benefits.
But people want to work. They want to dream. They want a good life, whatever that means to them.
Now they also know their value.
They know how much they matter. How they control the negotiations. They are demanding what they want to create that imaginary work-life balance everyone hypes up so much. The consequence? A Great Resignation. A great realization, too, that enough is enough.
I’m for it, even if it makes the employer’s job harder. We were overdue for this realization.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.