Automation will fend off The Great Resignation (just not how you think)

The ‘Great Resignation’ has seen a mass exodus of jobs over 2021 and into 2022. The reasons for this exodus are multiple, from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the rising cost of living.

One thing is certain: workers are leaving businesses at unprecedented levels. In turn, organisations need a plan in place to deal with — or mitigate — the impact of workers leaving in droves.

Automation is a popular mitigation candidate to turn to. And it’s a good idea — automation will help to fend off the Great Resignation. But not, perhaps, in the way you might first think.

The Great Resignation

Beginning in early 2021, workers across industries began voluntarily resigning from their jobs at an unprecedented level.

Since December 2000, when records began, the quit rate in the US never surpassed 2.4%. Until 2021. When, unexpectedly, the quit rate hit 3%, with as many as 4.5 million quits.

It’s a similar picture in Europe. China is experiencing a similar phenomenon too.

But why? There are multiple reasons that quitting workers have given. For example:

1.       Job dissatisfaction

For many, feeling unhappy with work is a primary cause of resignation. We spend a lot (if not most) of our waking time working. Needless to say, when you don’t enjoy that work, it makes it hard to want to stay.

Contributing factors to job dissatisfaction include (but are not limited to):

  • Poor work/life balance
  • Feeling disrespected at work
  • Not having opportunities for advancement
  • A lack of goals to reach for
  • And so on

2.       Poor compensation

A large amount of those quitting cite low pay as a major reason — as much as 37% of those surveyed, in fact.

The rising cost of living is putting a strain on many. If they can get a higher compensation rate elsewhere, they have no reason not to quit and go for it.

3.       Impact of COVID-19

The world of work changed completely when COVID-19 hit. Everyone was forced to retreat to their homes. The importance of essential workers was highlighted more than ever before. And crucially, the changes to the way we worked showed what was possible.

Now, with everything returning to some semblance of normal, a few issues have arisen. Namely, there’s a justifiable reluctance to give up the perks of remote work. Workers have learned that they can have more flexibility in their schedules.

Knowing that this is what they want from their work, and that it is possible, has helped to fuel the Great Resignation. Workers won’t stay if they can get their desired perks and flexibility elsewhere.

4.       Greater demand means more power to workers

As more people join the mass quit crew of the Great Resignation, they’ve created a higher demand for workers in those fields. As such, this gives more power to workers. There are more options out there, and their value is being recognised. This helps encourage more people to quit and find a new role or better option for them.

5.       Plus more

Finally, some of the other more common reasons for quitting include:

  • The desire to relocate (particularly now that remote work is readily available)
  • Issues with childcare
  • Feeling disrespected at work
  • Vaccine requirements

Automation – the ‘popular’ thought process

No matter what their reason, workers are leaving their jobs more readily than ever before. And in the wake of the Great Resignation, many organisations have looked to automation. The overarching approach is to fill the gaps left by the departing workforce.

So, the focus lies on how automation will protect companies by filling resource gaps when employees leave.

Automation software can indeed fill this role. (To an extent.) With software shouldering the routine workload left undone by departing team members, remaining tasks can be absorbed by those still working with the business.

But this is not the best use of automation in the wake of the Great Resignation.

There’s a much better angle that organisations can take.

The true power of automation

Automation isn’t just a way to patch gaps left by departing team members. It can also help companies retain employees in the first place.

That is, the right use of automation can fend off the Great Resignation, rather than merely deal with the outcome.

But how?

1.       Automation creates better work

Automation software takes on the repetitive and mind-numbing tasks that contribute to job dissatisfaction.

Because automation technology removes this kind of monotonous administrative work, human workers get to complete higher-value tasks. Tasks that are more engaging; more creative; more strategic. Not the humdrum tasks that require little to no thought.

As well as being more enjoyable, this type of work tends to lead to higher satisfaction. It makes workers feel more valuable. So, highly automated workplaces will tend to have more satisfied employees.

2.       Automation eases workload

Automation can support workers by handling bits of their harder tasks and much of their routine, time-consuming ones. This, in turn, means that workers get the greater balance and level of flexibility that they are looking for.

For example, they don’t need to spend as much time on manual data entry. Things on a deadline can be sent automatically. Document admin takes care of itself. And so on. Their day opens up somewhat.

If employees have the schedule flexibility they desire, there’s less motivation/need to quit and find alternative employment.

Additionally, this liberating ability of automation can help support employees that are struggling due to long-term health issues. (Like long covid, for instance.) By reducing their workload, companies have the flexibility to offer such afflicted team members reduced hours.

So, employees have more freedom to continue to work when they can and recover when they can’t.

3.       Automation can help address pay rate woes

Automation is an inexpensive way to boost efficiency and productivity. This translates to business growth. Long-term, then, this can enable organisations to offer a more competitive salary range. Well-compensated employees are more likely to remain than resign.

Automation vs the Great Resignation

Fuelled by the pandemic, by the rising cost of living, and by workers recognising their value, the Great Resignation is an interesting and transformative phenomenon.

But it also represents a potentially large problem for businesses that experience it first-hand.

Automation is a tool to turn to, but not necessarily in the way you might think. By deploying it sooner, rather than later, automation can act as a preventative measure.

Automation can fend off the Great Resignation, instead of merely patching the post exodus wounds.

Useful links

How automation can help you work from home

Automation and the post-work society

The future of automation: a more integrated outlook