What the great resignation means for sustainability professionals

What the great resignation means for sustainability professionals

Earlier this month, a data reporter for Recode, Rani Molla, wrote tweeted that Google searches for the phrase “how to send a termination email” has increased by 3,450 percent over the past three months.

During the pandemic, and especially over the past six months, the labor market has been very dynamic, with tens of thousands of American workers resigning as part of “Great Resignation.” The labor market was fluid, even before this happened. Throughout the pandemic, millions of women were pushed out of work due to job losses, which mostly women have, and due to increased care responsibilities. Moreover, opinion polls show that people think their employers have demanded too much of them during the pandemic and a large number of people have considered changing jobs or field to get something better.

So what happens when you overlay the big resignation with the ESG rise?

It gives them the confidence in the job market to ask employers for more, whether it’s more flexibility, more teleworking, more pay or something else.

For many people, the pandemic has made the work challenging. People living alone have felt the isolation of working from home; others have found it hectic to work from home in shared living spaces. Parents, meanwhile, have had to juggle work, nursing and distance school management under one roof. This is on top of the ongoing stress and trauma from the pandemic, racial violence and weather disasters caused by climate change.

Anecdotally, I regularly hear about (sustainability) candidates receiving multiple offers, competing offers, and counter-offers.

In addition to this pressure, sustainability professionals have lost much of the joy, community and influence that comes with these jobs. Travel stalled, rallies were canceled, and many sustainability programs were put on hold due to diversion of business resources, office closures, and travel disruptions.

The last 19 months toll has been huge; it is no wonder that so many people have resigned or considered moving jobs. And with a hot job market, it’s no wonder so many employers and leaders in the field of sustainability and ESG are wondering what they can do to retain talent.

In order to retain talent, employers should create a culture of flexibility, belonging and growth.

I see three main ways employers and managers can create a desirable work experience for sustainable practitioners:

Create a flexible work culture: Organizational psychologist Adam Grant shared that “flexibility is now the fastest growing job priority in the US” LinkedIn research has found that people want telework at least half the time, and many employers think of other forms of flexibility, including asynchronous work and four days of work week. People who have caring responsibilities experienced the greatest difficulty balancing work and life during the pandemic, and they may be looking for less than full-time opportunities and job sharing.

In my conversations, I have noticed a disruption between what employees want and what employers are willing to offer. But all indications are that the employers who want to win the war for talent are the ones who offer flexibility that meets people’s personal and professional aspirations as well as their limitations.

Cultivate true belonging: McKinsey found that employees mentioned three main reasons for quitting: They do not feel valued by their organizations; they do not feel valued by their leaders; or they do not feel a sense of belonging. Colored people were more likely to cite these reasons, underscoring the problem of discrimination and racial bias in the workplace.

The sustainability field lacks racial diversity, and according to research from Diversity in Sustainability (Weinreb Group was a sponsor of this research), barriers such as high education requirements, access to elite networks and the ability to take lower paid jobs in expensive cities prevent. many people from entering the field. The research also noted barriers to advancement, which include lack of workplace connections, growth and sponsorship opportunities, and discrimination and lack of psychological security.

Sustainability work is powerful because it draws on both lived and professional experiences of people in these jobs. But if employers fail to create a culture of true belonging, people who are asked to bring their “full selves” to work will feel alienated and burnt out. It is important for business leaders and managers to question how their organizations can change and listen deeply to understand and meet the needs of employees, especially those who have been marginalized at work and in this field.

Invest in employee growth: McKinsey’s study also showed that people left their jobs because they did not have opportunities for advancement. “Employees are looking for jobs with better, stronger careers,” the report authors wrote. “They want both recognition and development.”

Like “How are you?” Podcast host Esther Perel has written, employees will also “want a place where they can grow and develop personally.” It’s important to think about employee growth holistically: How can you offer them opportunities for professional advancement that do not hamper their personal growth and aspirations? Sustainability professionals in particular can be proud of their own personal efforts to live a sustainable life, and if workplace growth creates demands and intervenes in these aspirations, they may be more likely to leave.

The Great Resignation is ready to change the work of the future and give employees a much greater influence on how, when, where, with whom and on what they work. Sustainability leaders have a chance to be pioneers in a better world of work by rethinking the work experience they provide their own teams. And this can increase the impact of the sustainability area as a whole.

As the work’s sustainability and the authors of the future Eva Dienel and Christine Bader have formulated it in their Life I Want narrative project: We have a chance to rethink the role of work in our lives and society – “to make work work so that more people can live the life they want, engage with their families and communities, and ultimately create a better world. “


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