The Great Regret

“The Great Resignation” marked an exodus of employees fed up with work life as they knew it, and “The Great Reshuffle” shook up the labor market as workers sought out jobs with more perks and flexibility. Now, experts are predicting a new phenomenon, “The Great Regret,” defined by many employees’ realization that the grass isn’t always greener. 

According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review, nearly a third of those that took the leap since June 2021 did not have a good outcome; and in a survey of 2,500 job changers by the Muse, 72% were disappointed for the following reasons:

  • Difficulty assimilating and integrating into a company when everything is virtual
  • Unmet job expectations: 30% said the new role is different than what was described
  • Jumping the gun: 24% said that they did not thoroughly evaluate the pros and cons

While this quitter’s remorse provides an opportunity for organizations looking to upgrade or win back former talent, it also calls on employers to exert more effort into understanding the reasons for their losses and retaining their current employees​​⁠ — because there’s still plenty of opportunity out there.

Currently, there are 12 million job openings in the United States but only 7 million people looking for work. Meaning that if all 7 million people secure a job, there will still likely be an open position for everyone in your company should they choose to leave. 

And they might. According to a recent study by Gartner, 70% of information technology workers indicate they’d like to change jobs for better pay, better advancement opportunities, and better management. 

Realizing that these candidates are being recruited by almost everyone, seek to position your organization and its culture in a unique and positive light. It’s not just about chips and drinks in the breakroom anymore. Millennials and Gen Z workers embrace purpose, technology, and want to know that there is a clear career path.  

If you haven’t developed career paths for your current workers, do it as quickly as you can. If your culture could use some change, start with by conducting interviews with current employees, then act on the feedback so that you bring focus to the reasons why employees left in the first place. 

Setting clear expectations will be key to ensuring that offering flexible working options reflect what’s best for the company, not only the employee. Hiring managers should be explicit from the get-go. For example, employers may expect new hires to spend more time in the office during the first few months for training. If this is the case, this should be clearly articulated in advance regarding job expectations. Honest communication between both parties is what can minimize any second thoughts.

And don’t forget to stay in touch with former employees, who can offer honest insights into how to improve your company’s practices and culture and may have regrets of their own. We suggest:

  • Checking in on former employees from time-to-time. Ego may prevent the majority of those seeking to return to their old job from reaching out.
  • Facilitating an exit interview, even if they’ve already left. Because they are not worried about office politics or hurt feelings, your past employees are the best source for important information that could prevent your company from losing other key employees. 
  • Keeping the door open. If someone is regretting an employment switch, their previous job might be the easy landing since he or she is familiar with the teams and culture. And onboarding will be cheaper and easier for the organization.

The war for talent will continue to be at the forefront of what makes a company successful or what makes a company fail. Every problem in business is a people problem. Focus on what is important and you can set your company up in the successful category.