Annually, 30% of the workforce leaves their jobs.
They all work in advertising.
Marketing and advertising has one of the highest turnover rates for office-based jobs, exceeded only by hospitality. As a relatively small company in the marketing industry, we’ve been seeing a lot about the Great Resignation and what it means for marketing and advertising agencies.
The general consensus is that the Great Resignation is unavoidable for businesses.
Respectfully: we disagree.
The Great Resignation is unavoidable for businesses, collectively.
But it doesn’t have to be unavoidable for yours.
The Great Resignation: An Overview
The Great Resignation is an American phenomenon.
But, as with most American phenomena, it has spread to other regions extremely quickly. We’re seeing it already, in smaller doses, in Europe. It’s only a matter of time before it goes further.
Anthony Klotz, associate professor at Mays Business School in Texas, predicted that there would be a meteoric rise in employees leaving their jobs once the immediate threat of COVID-19 had reduced.
That was true.
Employees who had plans to leave their jobs held off because of COVID-19. Employees who had no plans to leave their jobs found themselves working from home and didn’t want to go back to their normal 9 – 5. Employees who started small businesses online didn’t want to go back to their career. Some employees just didn’t want to go back to work.
People will quit their jobs. That’s an unavoidable fact.
You can be in a career you love and not realise how bored you are with it until something catastrophic – like the COVID-19 pandemic – happens. Conversely, you can be in a career you hate and not realise how much you hate it until it comes home with you.
COVID-19 made the global workforce stop and see what they were doing.
It’s not surprising that a lot of the workforce didn’t like what they saw.
Why are people leaving their jobs?
Because their jobs suck.
Because their jobs don’t suck, but aren’t what they want.
Because life is too short and people are only on earth for a finite amount of time and what is the point if they’re not doing something they love.
Because they felt like it.
Because they want to go into business on their own.
Because they don’t want to work anymore.
Mostly, it’s because their employer doesn’t see them as people.
The Great Resignation isn’t spur of the moment. It didn’t sneak its way in underneath the cover of COVID, infesting employees with the sudden urge for #vanliving, starting their own business, and moving career paths. The Great Resignation has always been there, waiting in the wings for the moment when the workforce as a whole came to a screeching halt and thought, what the fuck am I working for and why does it matter?
Two hour commute each way. Working at the office until 8 o’clock at night on the daily. Watching your kids grow up in Facebook posts you were tagged in. Clients that want fast, cheap, and good. A company culture that makes you keep going even when you’re exhausted. Wages that don’t even cover the cost of the coffee you need to stay awake.
Get that bread, hustle culture, rise and grind: the portion of the workforce that believes in this way of life grows smaller and smaller every day. The more the question “what are you working for?” becomes prevalent, the more people realise that what they were working for was never what they wanted to work for to begin with and put in their two weeks’ notice.
But it isn’t unavoidable.
The Great Resignation is a culture problem.
The Great Resignation: Perspectives from the Marketing Side
We’re a small company. Our clients are widespread – America (including Hawaii), the Netherlands, UK, Germany. Pre-pandemic, it was rare to see the office empty before six o’clock, including our CEO and all of upper-management.
“It’s just the way it is in marketing” was a collective belief.
And then the pandemic hit.
We had to go remote. We had to take a pay cut for a while. We worked four days a week instead of five days a week and we had double the work to do.
Not a single person left that didn’t want to be there.
We went into the pandemic with 15 people, and we came out with new hires.
Right now, we’re still working remotely. We’re looking at implementing a four-day workweek over the next few years. We’re not sure when, but it’s a goal we’re all working towards. We’re hiring new people. We’re working with more international clients, and we have more varied work than ever, and it’s because of what we learned during the pandemic.
Office culture is important.
It isn’t everything.
Stopping the Great Resignation
There will always be people that quit your company.
That’s not something you can control or avoid.
What you can do is make sure that people don’t quit because they feel like they have no other option.
And here’s the secret to that: don’t make your employees do things that you wouldn’t do.
If you don’t work until 8PM, don’t make your employees work until 8PM. If you don’t go into the office, don’t make them go into the office. If you have client meetings remotely, give them the option to have client meetings remotely. Create company-wide events for your employees to socialise in. Make sure that their pay reflects what they’re worth to you. Give them opportunities to grow within the company.
Treat people like people.
It sounds simple.
Mostly, it is.
Look at the reasons why people are leaving their jobs:
- Only 20% of global employees feel engaged or connected at work.
- 48% will leave a company due to poor company culture.
- 89% of employees are experiencing burnout.
- Over 11% of global employees are working over 50 hours a week.
The Great Resignation isn’t a surprise. It’s the very predictable and understandable outcome of a lot of very exhausted people realising that they can do better.
So be a better choice for them.
As our CEO says, if I won’t do it, I won’t make you do it.