Recently I read a post on LinkedIn that referred to what we’re in as a “Quitter’s Market” and although I agreed with most of the content being provided, this choice of wording sent me over the edge. There are so many other potential choices that could’ve been made like employee’s market, talent market, job seeker’s market, etc. But to position what’s happening in our workforce right now as “quitting” did not land right with me. This points blame at job seekers for making a decision that is better for them in one way or another.
Merriam-Webster defines the word quitter as “one that quits; especially: one that gives up too easily.” A simple Google search of this word yields a result from Oxford that states “a person who gives up easily or does not have the courage or determination to finish a task.”
This doesn’t sound like job seekers in the market to me! Job seekers are not giving up or lacking courage or determination. They are understanding their value and their worth and they are going out in the market to get those things and to align their values with their employer’s.
As someone who has worked in corporate HR, I was often unsurprised when an employee would come to me with their resignation letter. Very few times did this catch me off guard. Why? Because I knew the employees in the organization that were unhappy and that was because they told us! They’d either been to their manager or HR to share some element of their role or the company, etc. that was no longer aligning with their values or needs. Oftentimes they would provide the area of concern and a way that this could be changed for the positive. And in my experience, the organizations I supported did nothing to make change but were upset when employees left.
Employees are leaving their roles for many reasons that range from work-life balance to work option type and from culture misalignment to unfilled promises. Sure, employees leave because they can get better compensation somewhere else, but that doesn’t mean they gave up. It means they found an organization who understood their worth in a different way than the previous employer did. It means they went out to find something that aligned with their needs. This is probably better for both parties in the long run.
When we think about employment partnerships, let’s look at who holds all the cards. If an employee wants to make change to the culture or the values or the way in which people can work, etc., they can propose their suggestions to the employer who can agree or disagree. In most situations, employers hold all of the cards when it comes to the employment relationship. So this means if the organization isn’t making changes that align with the requests or needs of their employees, there are very few options for those employees to seek. They have to focus on what they can control, which are their decisions and their actions. Often this means leaving an organization.
Gone are the days of complacent employees who operate as robots and do as employers tell them because they receive a paycheck. That model still resonates for some people, but not all. Employment is not one-size fits all. Some employees want to grow and others want to stay in their position until they retire. Employers need to have a culture that aligns with their workforce and potentially the five generations that are working in it.
So rather than calling this a “Quitter’s Market” I’d rather call it a “Go-Getter’s Market” or leave it simply as an “Employee’s Market”. I’d like to think of these employees as go-getters and individuals who understand what matters to them and have the courage to go after it. I’d like to think of them as self-starters. Interestingly enough, self-starter is a buzz phrase often seen on job postings as qualifications that employers are looking for in their future talent. I believe that these employees are not giving up or lacking courage or determination. I believe it’s quite the opposite actually. They are standing up for themselves and going out into the market to obtain what they feel they deserve and value, because now they feel like they can. The shifts employers made during the pandemic, in a multitude of ways, showed their hand in a way that employees hadn’t seen before. Now employees can stand up for themselves and their value with more confidence.
If you’re an employer who has been struggling to retain talent or secure talent for your organization, contact A People Partner. We can help your hiring needs, but we can do a lot more than that. We can offer some guidance or feedback on ways in which the organization could increase retention and enhance culture. We can also complete tasks or projects that help you to achieve success in these areas.
Employee market or not, there are still things employers can do to set themselves apart from their competitors. This starts with listening to the needs of their employees.