Rethink Mental Health

From the Great Resignation to the Great Renovation

Sep 8, 2022

By Delvina Miremadi-Baldino, Ph.D., Ed.M., CAPP

The pandemic has impacted our lives in unimaginable ways. It’s given us the time and space to step out of our hamster-wheel lives and truly think about how we are spending our time, what we are prioritizing, and most importantly, what our attitudes are towards how we live. Before the pandemic, employees were accustomed to careers designed around an endless pursuit of more money and success. But, as the challenging and traumatic days, months, and years of the pandemic have passed, the helplessness so many of us felt in the beginning transformed into an unexplainable longing for something more, and eventually, the impetus to go out and find it. 

This pursuit of “more” came in the form of people quitting their jobs in record numbers, with almost 57 million doing so in the 14 months from January 2021 to February 2022.[1] And, there is no sign this trend is easing. According to a widely cited survey by Microsoft, 41 percent of the entire global workforce is thinking about resigning from their jobs.[2] This mass exodus has been coined “the Great Resignation,” and it’s causing employers to examine the larger systemic workplace problems and processes that need to be dramatically reimagined and renovated.

What is fueling the Great Resignation?

Before we renovate anything, we need to understand what resides at the root of the problem. We’ve all heard the stories in the news or on social media of employees feeling overworked and burnt out, or how the lack of support and toxic work environments became too much to bear. As Viktor Frankl wrote in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.” 

When we think about it from Frankl’s perspective, the Great Resignation feels like less of a surprise and more like an inevitable and almost necessary occurrence. Start with a global pandemic and then add the growing political unrest, climate change, inequality, and economic collapse, all of which are happening to us, and it’s no wonder we are responding with the one thing we can control—how and where we choose to spend our time. 

Millennials and Gen Zs are responding this way in droves, with the highest resignation rates coming from their generations. They are saying they just don’t feel heard and appreciated.[3] Pay is a chief reason employees are reporting why they are seeking other employment, but that’s not the whole story. There is a deeper need at the core of these departures that raises questions about the traditional workplace culture and the need for sustainable change and repair. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, the top reasons that Gen Z and Millennial workers cited for quitting included pay, burnout, and mental health concerns.[4] That report found that just under half of Gen Zs and Millennials said they feel stressed or anxious all or most of the time, with two in five citing their mental health as a top reason for the stress. 

How to turn the Great Resignation into the Great Renovation

In many cases, business leaders are attempting to respond with pay increases and enhanced benefits, but even still, the divide remains steady, and departure numbers persist. There is too much unrest and turmoil in the world today to expect that a simple policy change or new app benefit is going to provide an impactful resolution. Each employee is experiencing their own traumatic response to these events, recalibrating their priorities, reallocating their time and energy, and reimagining what brings meaning and purpose to their lives. They are forever changed by these experiences and can no longer fit themselves into legacy workplace models. It’s time to implement workplace policies and programs that better meet the needs of the ever-changing workforce and ultimately attract valued talent. 

Three Renovations Leaders Can Consider Making to Improve Employee Retention

  1. Build a Culture of Psychological Safety. Because leaders and managers across the globe are facing a high demand for employee wellbeing care and support, building a culture where employees feel psychologically safe to communicate openly about their mental state and wellbeing needs is now a necessity for employee performance and productivity. According to research, psychological safety is an important factor in improving innovation, creativity, learning, and growth.[5] Most importantly, when employees feel psychologically safe at work, they are less likely to leave.[6]
  2. Embrace Flexible Work Options. According to recent studies, flexible working arrangements, such as self-scheduled work hours and remote work, positively impact employees’ mental and physical health and general wellbeing.[7] In-office, nine-to-five work schedules just aren’t going to cut it for much of the working population anymore. The pandemic was an eye-opening experience for many working professionals who, for the first time, were able to work from home. This led to some important realizations, such as how much time, stress, and costs are avoided by not commuting, how much money is saved by eating at home, and how much more productive work can be (for some employees) at home. According to a  recent survey, over half of employees (55%) say they’d like to be remote at least three days a week.[8] Depending on the type of work, the version of “flexibility” will look different from organization to organization, but the implementation of some kind of hybrid workforce model is needed and indeed demanded by employees going forward.
  3. Invest in Wellbeing. There is currently a big disconnect between what employers think they are offering for wellbeing support and the reality of how much their employees are feeling supported. Research from a leading provider of workers’ compensation and disability insurance, The Hartford, found that only 50 percent of workers said they had more access to mental health resources compared to 82 percent of employers who said the same. Bottom line: Addressing wellbeing goes beyond access to care. It’s about building a culture that destigmatizes mental illness and help-seeking, encourages employees to prioritize their families, and fosters engagement, connection, and personal and professional development.

Building a new desirable work environment where employees want to stay is the task of the moment. Employees have prioritized their needs and taken action by leaving their jobs in record numbers in an effort to create a life that better aligns with what’s important to them: financial security, work/life balance, and mental wellbeing. Now it’s time for employers to respond by renovating their systems and mindsets to create a workplace where the modern, post-pandemic employee can truly flourish. 

CredibleMind is the one-stop shop for your employees’ mental wellbeing. Let us help you turn the Great Resignation into the Great Renovation.

[1]  Bartash, J. (2022, April 7). The Great Renegotiation: Millions of employees quit old jobs for better ones. MarketWatch.

[2] Microsoft Worklab. (2022, March 16). Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work. Microsoft.

[3] Leonhardt, M. (2022, May 18). In the midst of the Great Resignation, here’s what keeps Gen Z and millennial workers in their seats. Fortune.

[4] Deloitte. (2022). The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey.

[5] Edmondson, Amy C. (2018).  The Fearless Organization: Creating psychological safety in the workplace for learning, innovation, and growth. John Wiley & Sons.

[6] The Predictive Index. (2021). 2021 People Management Report.

[7] Joyce, K., Pabayo, R., Critchley, J. A., & Bambra, C. (2010). Flexible working conditions and their effects on employee health and wellbeing. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

[8] PwC’s US Remote Work Survey. (2021, Jan 12). It’s time to reimagine where and how work will get done. PWC.

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