People who quit their jobs with flair are the new folk heroes. The overwhelming public support for both the JetBlue flight attendant and the young woman (Jenny with no last name) who supposedly quit her brokerage job with a series of bold messages on a dry-erase board is a not-to-be-ignored sign that the wind is beginning to shift direction.
A year ago, the employee trend was to put up with anything, just to keep a job. Companies were undergoing massive layoffs, freezing salary increases and eliminating employer funding of 401(k)s, all with little complaint from the employees who managed to remain on the payroll. The CEO of a global consumer goods company we were pitching, when asked if he was concerned about low employee morale, replied, “Where else are they going to work?”
They’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. It doesn’t matter what made airline attendant Steven Slater crack or whether Jenny the HOPA was a hoax. What’s noteworthy is the way the American public has responded with such fervor.
This is a signal to the corporate employers who are paying attention. The economy will improve, sooner or later. Meanwhile, Boomers are retiring, and the Gen X generation following on their heels is not large enough to fill all the positions they’ll leave behind. It won’t be long until the tables are turned in the workplace and the jobs outnumber the people available to fill them.
The companies that will win star talent in the coming competition will be the ones able to create high employee engagement. Does your company have a clear vision at the top? Is that vision communicated to and embraced by employees? Do you have a strong corporate culture that makes the company a good place to work? Have you actually managed to turn rank-and-file employees into brand ambassadors? Otherwise, you’ll need to keep a close eye on those emergency chutes. Not to mention the beer.