The Great Realignment

Hardly an hour goes by without another reminder about the exodus of employees, i.e., the “great resignation.”  Reasons for departure include more flexible work environments, higher pay, and greater stability.

Gallup’s article, “The Great Resignation’ is Really the ‘Great Discontent”, confirms that 48% of American workers are actively searching for new job opportunities. Lack of engagement is a critical factor in one’s call to action. There are many contributing factors to an individual’s engagement to the organization.

Companies looking to understand employee engagement work with Gallup or other companies/consultants to measure employees’ expectations and experience. They use this information to identify challenges and opportunities to improve.  

Engagement is only one aspect, though. With every new article published, there is another theory or reason for employee discontent.  I can’t help but think that, while they all have good points, there is still something missing. Something bigger.

So, I started asking clients, friends, colleagues, those who’ve expressed the need for change, to provide insight. What I’ve learned is that the fundamental reason for change is lack of alignment.

When individuals are out of alignment, or feel alignment is unattainable, change may be the natural next step. So, this begs the question, what is does “alignment” mean to this general audience?  Unfortunately, it is not a one-size-fits-all answer. 

There are many areas of alignment, and I’ve found that the most critical relate to each person’s, self-defined, non-negotiables.  These are the things that must exist to achieve balance or alignment in their lives.  

In my interviews, misalignment in these areas cause employees to re-evaluate the commitment to their employer:

  • deliver on core values and principles
  • live a life of purpose and meaning, e., doing what you love and living purposefully
  • focus on critical relationships
  • act with honesty and integrity
  • freedom to dream and pursue one’s goals
  • appreciate work for a job well done
  • opportunity to have a voice and be heard
  • ability to work on their own personal development

Misalignment in these key areas result in an employee’s awareness that their current situation may no longer be a fit.  Depending how intense the value, goal, or priority determines the speed of departure. So, if family time is my number one non-negotiable and my job severely limits time with family, staying requires me to compromise my value. Most people will not choose to do that for the long haul unless they feel stuck or have no alternative.

Individuals look to companies to respond to their need for greater alignment.  They are less willing to compromise on these values and priorities. And, when employees perceive, either by action or lack of action, that their company is not interested in this connection, they will look for one that is.

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