More Americans than ever are quitting their jobs. It is at a record high at the moment. In Germany, too, the labor market is on the move. According to the last Job Change Compass, the number of those who can imagine changing companies grew from 6 to 62 percent from summer to fall 2021. A recent survey of 1,500 employees by EY paints a similar picture: According to this study, almost half of all employees in Germany are thinking about changing jobs.

Employees Have Developed New Values And Needs

Why are employees so willing to change jobs at the moment? One reason is certainly that many employees postponed their plans to quit due to the pandemic. Now, after almost two years, their career planning is gaining importance again, and this is causing a disproportionate increase in the willingness to switch overall. In addition, companies have limited or frozen further training measures and salary increases due to the uncertain economic situation. These are also reasons why workers are likely to consider changing jobs. A higher salary is the decisive factor for most to switch to a new employer.

However, this fact itself does not explain the alarming survey results. The first pandemic lockdown in March 2020 has set something in motion: Many employees were sent to home offices for months. There they suddenly worked more flexibly, independently, agilely and digitally. In the meantime, however, many companies want their employees to return to the office. Not all of the team members are pleased with this decision by their leaders.

However, the home office also has its downsides: There is often a lack of separation between work and private life as well as a lack of undisturbed workplaces. As a consequence, stress levels have increased for many employees. Some also find it difficult to cope with the new digital way of working. They feel disconnected from the team or isolated due to the lack of personal and social contacts. Fatigue around digital meetings is increasing, too. In addition, some employees have been put on short-time work. A total of all these situations has led many to overwork and frustration, as well as worries and fears about the professional future.

While everyone experiences the new world of work differently due to their individual situation, it has changed employees’ needs: Today, employers are confronted with requests for flexible working hours and independent work, for more work-life balance, or for mental and physical health. But this development itself is not responsible for the fact that many employees think about changing jobs. Only if organisations do not respond to the new needs of their employees and their managers do not adapt their management style, it will lead to resignations.

Companies Should Now Close Their Culture Gaps

It is undisputed that a healthy corporate culture ensures satisfaction. A company culture is based on values that are shared by employees and management. If the needs within the workforce have changed, organisations should find out what these are. The first step is an assessment in the form of individual interviews and a comprehensive employee survey. The aim is to take stock of the new values shaped by the crisis, their strengths and weaknesses.

The data is used to analyse the extent to which the company culture – lived before Corona – matches the needs and values desired now. A kind of new target culture then develops from the vision and mission of the company and the current results. Before this is decided, it should once again be openly discussed. After the final feedback from all team members, an action plan is drawn up so that the transformed culture is optimally implemented and lived.

In this way, organisations strengthen the bond with their employees, because they listen to them, value them and thus ensure a working atmosphere that is desired by the majority – preferably all. This creates satisfied, motivated and productive employees and is a successful lever against the current willingness to change jobs.

Leaders Need New Qualifications

Humanity, empathy, understanding and caring are leadership qualities that are needed to recognise the new needs in the team and to create suitable framework conditions for them. In this context, it is crucial that the manager knows the personal and structural requirements of each individual and knows whether the current work situation is suitable and motivating for them or whether frustration is building up in the team.

Only with a deep understanding of one’s own employees can discrepancies be eliminated, team members assigned to the right projects and necessary training courses initiated. Together, the team searches for optimal solutions in the new world of work. After all, every team member is vital to accomplishing the work and the challenges that come with it. Employees can only achieve their goals through different opinions and an open exchange of ideas. This requires leadership that encourages autonomous, creative, and innovative thinking.

Unfortunately, surveys show that many leaders still micromanage and still wish to exert strong control. Such behaviour contradicts the new needs of workers. For this reason, it is likely that managers with an old leadership style make their contribution to the current mood on the labor market and are responsible for employees thinking about quitting their jobs.

That is why companies should not only take a close look at their culture, but also help their leaders to embrace the new work reality and the challenges it brings. They have to learn to lead at distance in a personal, individual, self-responsible and result-oriented manner. In addition, enterprises should review their continuing education and career development programs to ensure they still meet the current needs of their workforce and talent. Here, too, there are important levers to prevent possible layoffs.

The article by Janet Haupka was first published by the Trend Report magazine.