DEI and the Great Resignation

In 2021, we witnessed a surge of vacant workplaces as many Americans left their jobs.

4.3 million Americans, in the month of August alone.

Into 2022, there were more than 10 million job openings and the trend of folks quitting to pursue other opportunities seems like its not going away. Employers are not only having a difficult time hiring new employees, they are also struggling to retain them.

Referred to as the Great Resignation by Anthony Klotz, this record-breaking increase of departures may be pandemic-inspired, but is reshaping the future of employment moving forward. People are more aware of what they desire most from their employers, and are willing to hold out or find employment elsewhere should their needs go unmet.

So what role do diversity, equity, and inclusion have in prolonging the Great Resignation? An extensive one as DEI is a growing demand of employees throughout the country. According to a survey conducted by the academic publishing company Wiley, 50% of employees left their jobs due to a lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

If organizations want to attract people and keep them long-term, it’s important to first determine the primary causes of turnover, it’s impact on organizations, and how to develop an equity-driven plan that will keep businesses moving forward through 2022.

Why Folks Are Leaving Their Jobs

The more important question should be, why are folks continuing to leave their jobs? Many employers assumed that when people went home during the pandemic, they’d be back. This has not proven to be the case.

Instead, people have become more intentional with the positions they pursue and the companies they choose to represent. Folks have taken the time at home to reflect on their values and whether their employment situation aligns.

There is a higher demand for remote working, more flexibility, and higher pay– all things ultimately tied to equity and inclusion. People of Color, who are more likely to work lower-paying jobs with little to no benefits, are leaving to pursue better opportunities. The availability of remote work has made it so that folks have options for employment, regardless of distance or accessibility.

People of Color are also more likely to prefer working from home, and express an unwillingness to feel uncomfortable or discriminated against in their work life. Some say that working in a predominantly white workplace has taken an emotional toll on their mental health.

It is clear that while the pandemic may have fueled the Great Resignation, it is no longer the only thing sustaining it. People want more equity in the workplace, and office spaces will continue to be empty until employers make the necessary changes around company culture.

The Impact of the Great Resignation on Employers

With millions of vacant positions opened, and more expected this year, employers are growing increasingly desperate to fill them. This means for many companies, a possible departure from the DEI initiatives they previously promised.

Employers feel pressured to hire new workers regardless of diversity, for the sake of running their organizations. The problem, however, is that as more and more people prefer a company that prioritizes DEI, this can likely hurt their ability to retain workers in the future, and hire new ones.

Instead, companies are better off reevaluating what may be deterring candidates from applying, or staying long term. Though the reasons may require that employers spend more initially, the payoff is that they will ultimately save by retaining diverse and loyal employees who are more likely to contribute to the organization’s overall growth and success.

What’s Next?

If the primary goal of organizations is to stay profitable, then it is essential for leaders to focus more on DEI in the workplace, than hiring to fill vacant seats. When companies prioritize a company culture that is built around diversity, equity and inclusion, research shows they do better.

Companies are more likely to produce more innovative products, outperform their homogenous competitors, and attract more clients and customers. With Americans growing more concerned about DEI in the workplace, it is in the best interest of companies to adjust accordingly, rather than revert back to old habits that can ultimately reinforce the Great Resignation.

Are you ready to create an equitable culture in your workplace? Let’s talk about how our team can evaluate your company’s approach to DEI and help you develop a plan that is clear, impactful, and improves hiring and retention.

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