The ‘Great Resignation’ is burning out those who stay. Here’s what they can do
Carol Sloane, a project manager based in New Jersey, is getting burned out.
Several members of her team have left in the past few months, which means an increase in responsibilities and new projects on her plate. It’s resulted in a longer work day.
“There’s just not enough hours in the day with some of the things we’re being asked to do,” Sloane said.
Much has been made about the “Great Resignation” and the abundance of Americans looking to leave their jobs. A record 4.3 million quit their jobs in August alone, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Those left behind are feeling the pain.
Following their former coworkers’ departures, 52% of those who chose to stay at their jobs said they’ve taken on more responsibilities, a survey by the Society of Human Resource Management found. Moreover, 30% report struggling to get necessary work done, 27% feel less loyalty to their organization and 55% now question whether their pay is high enough, according to the survey, which polled 1,150 employed U.S. adults in July.
“There’s this vicious cycle. Employees leave, which means all of their work has to be done by the remaining employees who remain,” said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society of Human Resource Management.
“The employees who remain now say, ‘I’m working too hard, I don’t have balance in my life, etc.’ And so then they want to leave and thus a vicious cycle continues,” Taylor added.
To be sure, employers know they are having retention problems.
Fully 49% of U.S. executives report their organization is experiencing much higher turnover than usual in the past six months, according to the same survey, which also polled 220 executives in July.
What’s more, on average, it costs a company six months to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace him or her, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. For someone making $60,000 a year, that comes out to $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting and training costs, the organization said.
Ask for help
If you feel like you are overworked and struggling, it is critical that you have an honest conversation with your people manager, Taylor said.
“This is where empathy comes in to say, ‘Listen, I’m carrying the workload of now two people, and I need some help. I need a break. I need your sensitivity,’” he added.
Negotiate with your boss
If you are looking for higher pay, better benefits or another perk, you’ll have to be willing to leave, said career transition and leadership coach Alex Durand, founder of Los Angeles-based Frable Consulting.
“Employees who choose to remain with their organization only have leverage if they are willing to look elsewhere if their employer isn’t willing to play ball,” he said.
“There’s this vicious cycle. Employees leave, which means all of their work has to be done by the remaining employees who remain.
Before you have a conversation with your boss, confirm what it is exactly that you want, whether it is time off, additional resources, more money or a promotion, advises Caroline Ceniza-Levine, founder, DreamCareerClub.com.
Even if you think it is all of the above, prioritize your list, she said.
Then, schedule a time with your manager to make your case.
“Treat this like a negotiation – have responses for what you think your manager might object to, expect to go back and forth and not get a decision right away,” Ceniza-Levine said.
Explore your options
While career management should always be ongoing, right now it is particularly important to pay attention to.
“If you are above average at what you do and choose to stay with your organization without exploring what the market will pay for your labor, there’s a good chance you are limiting your long-term ceiling,” Durand said. “A market that favors candidates over employers is rare and it’s likely we won’t see it again for a while once the great reshuffling settles down.”
Durand thinks it may last for about six to 12 months, while SHRM’s Taylor is calling it a 24 month to 36 month problem for employers.
What employers can do
Not everyone wants to necessarily leave their job, but those who are getting burned out are asking for help.
“I like my job but would love more resources to help accomplish it to achieve a better work-life balance,” said Sloane, the project manager. She’d also like to be recognized for her hard work with a boost in pay or spot bonus.
Employers should exercise more empathy for its employees by listening to and addressing any issues, Taylor explained. They should also consider bringing in other workers to help fill the gap until permanent hires are made, he added.
Another way to be proactive is to have managers and directors identify talent they don’t want to lose, Duran suggested.
“Invest in them today,” he said. “Show them you care before they tell you they are leaving.”