Epidemics and pandemics have historically created labor unrest, followed by a rewriting of the employer/employee relationship. The Black Death, for example, resulted in higher wages, contributing to the end of the serfdom system. Similarly the labor movement took off after the 1918 “Spanish” Flu.
The Covid pandemic is no exception. We are now in the middle of what might be called “The Great Resignation”, according to The Atlantic:
“Americans are quitting their gigs at a record-setting rate: 4.3 million people said bye to their boss in August, according to new data from the Department of Labor. That’s up from the previous all-time peak, logged this past April. Open positions are likewise trending high.”
It’s not difficult to see why employees are quitting and such record numbers. Having stared in the face of the pandemic for nearly two years, a lot of workers, very much including office workers, are just not willing any longer to put up with the crap that employers and managers have been dishing out for the past 50 years.
Here are the 5 all-too-common manager behaviors that in the post-pandemic environment practically guarantee you’ll be understaffed (if you aren’t already):
1. Required attendance
The pandemic proved, once and for all, that the majority of office jobs can be done remotely. As a result, requiring people to come into the office every day just seems silly, especially since the unnecessary commute time constitutes a pay cut. The core problem here is that the pandemic also proved that office workers don’t need a manager looking over their shoulders, which was never much value added. So rather than trying to get employees back into seats in the office, managers need to find ways to that add real value, lest higher-ups realize that their “walk about” management style is obsolete and counterproductive.
2. Temper tantrums
Plenty of CEOs think it’s perfectly OK to blow off their steam and stress by yelling at employees during business meetings. (After all, the billionaires do it, so it can’t be all that bad, right?) Anyway, having worked remotely and (perhaps) seen a few temper tantrums on Zoom (which are effing hilarious, especially when you cut the volume and just watch the tiny little managers throw a hissy), few office workers are likely to tolerate this toddler-style bullying.
3. Non-compete agreements
Why would anyone let themselves get locked into working for a particular employer when they can easily find a job working remotely for thousands of other companies that aren’t still living in 2010?
4. Open plan offices
Employees have always hated these noisy, distracting workplaces. Rather than encouraging collaboration and innovation as promised, open plan offices decrease both, and destroy productivity. Nevertheless, a lot of managers love them because they facilitate “walk about” management. After the pandemic, though, another aspect of the open plan office became intolerable–the lack of sanitation. In a large open room, a single sneeze can throw droplets hundreds of feet away. Who’d want to go back to that, when other alternatives are available?
5. “My Way or the Highway”