Why the Great Resignation is a Great Opportunity

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Don’t dodge the unfamiliar or unexpected; that’s how opportunity is packaging itself these days.

Everywhere I turn, I see articles about the “Great Resignation” or the “Great Attrition.”

Employees, fueled by changing workplaces courtesy of COVID-19, are exercising their choices. While the Harvard Business Review chalks it up to “The Toxic Effects of Branding Your Workplace a ‘Family,’” we’re seeing lights at the end of tunnels and not dead ends. Which is why we’re thinking about now as a time of Great Opportunity. 

You know when you have the perfect job candidate but you don’t think they’re going to say “yes” because they’re, well, perfect? And then they do? We’ve had those kinds of surprises more often and we’re looking at why and how to keep that momentum going. 

First, admittedly, this is a fairly unique time of disorganization. Where and how people work continues to change. Being comfortable with discomfort and embracing the chaos has served us well. But we have had to adjust. Especially since we always thought that to do great creative work you had to have people in the same room, putting up sticky notes on a wall or drawing venn diagrams on a whiteboard. Together, breathing the same air and bringing in lunch that perfumes the hallway. 

But when we were acquired by Infosys three years ago we started working in global teams. It gave us a head start on working across time zones and geographies well before the pandemic. 

There was always the assumption though that we’d go “back to normal” — that is, back to working in person, around that white board, sharing lunch. While we love that, we now have muscle memory of working with teams around the world. That’s allowed us to seek talent based on skills and affinity, rather than geography. 

We’ve built our organization on the Democracy of Good Ideas. That has always meant that a good idea can come from anyone at any level. Now, it’s expanded to include good ideas from any country or time zone. By embracing that we’ve been able to make some great new hires who don’t live anywhere near a Wongdoody studio. 

Second, people are questioning why they do what they do. It’s not just a generational thing, it’s a pandemic thing. Too many people lost loved ones or jobs, and began questioning why they were staying in a grueling job with people they didn’t like doing things that weren’t important to them in a city that was too expensive. 

So, we give people reasons. We let creatives create. Recently, we hired a new AVP of marketing content, Eugene S. Robinson. Eugene is a journalist, writer and musician. He makes all kinds of content that people pay to consume, from books, to podcasts to Substack newsletters. We told him if he came to Wongdoody, he could work with nice people and make content for us. You tell us, we said, where we should be and what we should be saying. 

Because creatives like to be given latitude to be creative in ways that ignite their interests. And that works for our business. We are a business, after all, and we have budgets, clients and processes. But, fundamentally, we hire smart creative people and get curious about what they think we should do. Then we try to do it. Which is a heady brew for the disillusioned content maker. 

Women have also carried a disproportionate burden during the pandemic as workers, caregivers and homeschoolers. Many have left the workplace altogether. That means companies with female leadership and family-friendly policies are that much more attractive. 

I’ve had three children during my time working at Wongdoody. When I tell my friends that any of my sons could have flown with me to any business meeting in the first year of their lives, on the company’s dime, they are amazed. But when I tell that to potential candidates, it matters in a different way.

We have creativity, a high tolerance for chaos and a parent-friendly culture. That’s been why people come to work for us. But now, it’s allowing us to be so much more competitive as those things are in high demand by all of those who are ready for the next opportunity. 

So, if you’re thinking that the light at the end of the tunnel could be a train, we have on good authority that it’s not. It’s the dawn of a different way of working, hiring and creating. 

Vive le difference. Don’t dodge the unfamiliar or unexpected. That’s how opportunity is packaging itself these days.

Skyler Mattson is president at Wongdoody.

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