GenZ and younger millennials are speaking up about what they want their workplace to look and feel like — something that no other generation has done. (Courtesy of Jacob Lund, stock.adobe.com)
GenZ and younger millennials are speaking up about what they want their workplace to look and feel like — something that no other generation has done. (Courtesy of Jacob Lund, stock.adobe.com)

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the Great Resignation phenomenon and it’s still going on. 

Many workers have continued to resign and switch jobs and the pandemic reportedly has changed what matters to employees and what they want from their jobs – leading to a disconnect between leaders and workers.

GenZ and younger millennials continue to speak up about what they want their workplace to look and feel like – something that no other generation has done. 

“Many GenZ workers got their first job during the pandemic, so they expect flexibility and remote work as the standard option. In addition, they view jobs as ‘experiences’ that they can end if they no longer need or feel connected to them,” said Dr. Ximena Hartsock, founder of BuildWithin. 

The D.C.-based company identifies, trains and manages tech-related apprentices. 

“And they have always been presented with a ‘buyers’ market’ in terms of jobs which has led to job-hopping which is unlikely to go away and puts pressure on employers to lead with an employee-centric and value-driven culture,” Hartsock said. “This new generation is putting needed pressure on employers to make the workplace more empathetic. Perhaps the Great Resignation will transition to the Great Enlightenment.”

Mark Pierce, CEO of Cloud Peak Law Group, said he believes employees aren’t feeling valued or that their working location puts them at a disadvantage. He said that’s a primary contributor to the Great Resignation.

“Whether employees are working in-person, fully remote, or hybrid, it’s important to ensure that everyone feels welcome and valued in their roles,” Pierce said. “It can be easier to focus on employees who work in the same way that you as a leader do most often. If you’re in the office a lot, you’ll likely be more in touch with employees who work in-office frequently and vice versa if you work remotely.”

He added that micromanagement becomes amplified when performed remotely, making it even more bothersome for employees than when they worked in the office where employers did so in person. 

“Giving employees autonomy shows that you as a leader trust them to do their work without needing to intervene,” Pierce said. “It also frees you to focus on the most important tasks at hand, rather than simply monitoring employees.”

A Pew Research Center survey found that low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work represent the top reasons Americans quit their jobs last year. 

Released in March 2022, the survey also found that those who quit and are now employed elsewhere remain more likely to say their current job has better pay, more opportunities for advancement and more work-life balance and flexibility.

“A few factors are driving the Great Resignation but one that stands out is that most workplaces simply aren’t doing as much as they could to support the health and wellness of their employees,” said Logan Mallory, vice president at Motivosity. 

“This means offering support for mental health and workplace options that support overall health and wellness, such as flexible working hours or the ability to work remotely,” Mallory said. “When employees see that their employers truly care about them as individuals, they’ll be much happier, more engaged and less likely to resign.”

Pavel Stepanov, CEO of Virtudesk, added that COVID-19 confronted many workers with the question of what it means to have meaning in their lives.

Stepanov said Generation Z has entered the workforce with a distinctly different mindset and culture. Meanwhile, increases associated with cost of living and homeownership have made housing more unattainable for young people. 

“So many factors are contributing to the Great Resignation. However, this isn’t just a brief trend anymore. What’s looking to be a long-lasting shift is changing culture and economic environment,” Stepanov said. 

“Also, the culture of Gen Z has also proven to be very different from Gen X and Millennials, where they strive to attach more meaning to what they do and strive to have a strong impact on the world,” he said. “This, coupled with the hardship of COVID in the last two years, is having people demand greater job fulfillment. People want to stand out, be different and make change where they are [but] many jobs have not been designed to deliver that feeling of purpose.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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