Although many people expected the “Great Resignation” to be over by now, workers in nearly every industry continue to leave their jobs in record numbers. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4.3 million American workers quit their jobs in August 2021 - that’s almost 3% of the entire U.S. workforce.
Human resources and business experts have written countless articles addressing the Great Resignation, focusing mostly on highly visible industries like healthcare and hospitality. One industry that’s not often mentioned, though, is energy. The energy sector is reeling from the effects of this trend alongside many others, and the implications are serious.
In this article, we’ll uncover the factors that are driving the Great Resignation’s momentum, look at how this trend is affecting the energy sector, and reveal strategies energy leaders can use today to thrive in the midst of continued mass resignations.
What’s driving the Great Resignation today?
In the first year of the pandemic, when businesses shuttered and office buildings sat empty, job resignations steadily grew. As restrictions eased and the business world settled into its “new normal,” though, resignations didn’t slow down as many experts expected. Instead, the Great Resignation continued to gain momentum.
In August 2021, there were 10.4 million open jobs in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professionals have more opportunities available than ever, but they’re not taking advantage of these opportunities.
There are many possible reasons for this. Childcare and education have become a stressor for many people - some parents are quitting to homeschool their children rather than having them return to a physical classroom.
Employees in many industries that involve frequent contact with the public are also leaving their jobs because of concerns about virus variants, breakthrough infections, and other lingering risks of the pandemic.
The “new normal” of homeschooling, remote work, and virtual meetings have been etched into our brains, and some experts believe that this will continue to shape our decisions for many years to come.
Still, there’s another side to the “Great Resignation” - one that many employers aren’t seeing.
The stress, isolation, and uncertainty of the pandemic’s early months led to “pandemic epiphanies” for many people. They decided to make major changes in their lives, leaving urban centers for smaller towns and rural areas. They began prioritizing their goals, families, and personal fulfillment over doing work that didn’t fulfill them.
The results of an Adobe survey showed that 53% of enterprise employees would like to spend more of their work time on activities they’re passionate about. They’re no longer willing to settle for work that doesn’t challenge, engage, and reward them.
This means that attracting and retaining high-performing employees requires a creative approach.
How does the Great Resignation affect the energy sector?
The energy sector has long been overlooked as a career of choice; however, it is an indispensable part of solving major issues that affect us all as humans.
Addressing human-driven climate change is one of the most obvious examples. Developing and implementing cleaner energy systems that provide reliable power for residences, businesses, and other buildings must continue to be a priority for the energy sector. How we address climate change today will directly and dramatically affect the well-being of future generations.
Energy poverty is another difficult challenge. The term “energy poverty” refers to the lack of reliable access to modern, sustainable energy services. Many of us in the United States and other developed countries take energy for granted - we flip a switch or plug in an appliance knowing that power will be there. What we don’t realize is that one billion people - about 13% of the entire world’s population - do not have access to electricity.
Despite efforts by the energy industry, progress hasn’t always been ideal - 2.7 billion people (40% of the world’s population) do not have access to clean cooking resources. Instead, they’re forced to rely on coal, kerosene, or solid biomass as fuel - sources that produce significantly more pollution than modern energy sources.
Meeting these challenges is no small feat. It requires energy leaders to attract engaged, innovative professionals with the passion and know-how to help provide people with clean, safe energy they can depend on.
This is what makes the Great Resignation so challenging for the energy sector. In a time when innovation is sorely needed to address real, pressing issues, talented energy professionals are becoming harder and harder to find.
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