The End of the Age of the Empowered Employee
Business leaders are reclaiming the power
The Great Resignation seemed to peak in November 2021, when a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in a single month. Desperate to retain employees, companies were scrambling. They offered more flexible work. They conducted surveys about company culture. How about more employee recognition programs? Four-day work-weeks? Pet insurance?
Sure, some of the attempts to retain hires were ham-fisted. Company swag and lunchtime yoga don’t stop people from heading for the door in a tight labor market, especially if they feel underappreciated (or under-compensated). But the wave of new perks and focus on company culture did signal that employees were gaining more control, and employers were listening. (To some degree, at least: Income inequality has likely only increased over the past few years.)
Now, more than a year later, as the country’s economic outlook has soured, employee power is less certain. “The Bosses Are Back in Charge,” declared The Wall Street Journal recently, pointing to the tens of thousands of workers who were laid off in January—and the likelihood that more painful cuts still loom. (Fast Company also explored this topic on The New Way We Work podcast.)
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