HR lessons from the Big Quit 

This pandemic-triggered phenomenon has brought three factors that strengthen the employee-employer bond into sharp relief

March 23, 2022 11:19 am | Updated 11:19 am IST

Are Indian companies also up against the Great Resignation? By discussing this phenomenon in the Indian context, are we attempting something as ludicrous as having Motu and Patlu slip into clothes that uniquely belong to SpongeBob SquarePants?

The right answer is probably grounded somewhere equidistant from a yes and a no.

The Great Resignation might have barely scratched the surface in India — with the technology industry dealing with it more noticeably than any other sector — but corporate India is not immune to the work conditions that triggered the phenomenon elsewhere, particularly the United States.

So, it is not only legitimate, but also necessary to dissect this phenomenon and take lessons from it.

On the Big Quit in India, Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder of the staffing company TeamLease, says: “It is not really a practical thing; or a lifestyle choice that Indian employees can afford to think about. The only employees that can think about it are in the technology sector and that too in jobs that are niche and in high demand.”

The reading of the Big Quit in the United States in fact factors in the pandemic stimulus package, which gave people the economic leeway to make that decision.

Navneet Singh, CEO, Avsar HR Services, points out that in India, based on experience-wise categories of employees, the Big Quit has been relatively most pronounced in the group with two to four years of work experience.

“It is an age group that wants to experiment and explore and in the technology sector, the opening of the job market during the pandemic gave this group just the reason to make that job switch,” says Navneet.

Great Engagement

While remarking that the Great Resignation reared its head in non-technology sectors as well (in degrees that can probably be largely defined as mild), KS Raja Rajasekar, Deputy General Manager — Human Resources, KONE Elevator India Pvt Ltd, remarks that the positive outcome of this phenomenon is “Great Engagement”.

Rajasekar notes that three factors can cause employees to call it quits, pandemic or no pandemic.

“In their order of importance: One, organisational culture; two, growth opportunities, which include the scope for learning and upskilling and mobility through internal job postings; and compensation comes a distant third.”

Rajasekar explains that during the pandemic, employees engaged in considerable introspection as their priorities had changed.

If their organisations lacked in the first two areas — a positive culture and in-built systems that promoted employee growth and wellness — overnight, these employees found these insufficiencies to be more glaring than before.

To use an analogy, extreme and challenging circumstances can bring barely-hidden stressors in a marriage out in the open and wreck it.

Rajasekar notes that the pandemic-triggered phenomenon has made one question inevitable: “Do you give your employees customer-grade experience? Are you treating your employees the way you treat your customers?”

Great Reshuffle

CoffeeMug, a community of founders, investors, CXOs, and business leaders, recently undertook a survey picking the brains of those of its members who had quit their big jobs during the pandemic.

It found out that 74% of these senior professionals had moved to startups with a majority of them remarking that the scope for creating greater impact offered by startups, increased flexibility, greater work culture and a flat hierarchy were reasons that influenced the decision.

A note about the study remarked that in this case, the Great Resignation had led to a Great Reshuffle, one that directed and distributed talent to places where they would be better utilised.

Great Realisation

Rituparna notes that for many professionals, “the Great Resignation is making way for the Great Realisation”. She explains: “They are missing the ‘social capital’ they have built in an organisation. Hence, we are also seeing a trend where people are going back to their previous employers.”

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