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The Great Resignation: Employer Challenges and Opportunities

By Gail Golman Holtzman, Taylor English Duma LLP

Have you recently traveled, only to find that your flight was delayed or canceled because of a pilot or other crew shortage? Have you gone to a restaurant and been told you could not be seated despite empty tables because of staff unavailability? If the answer is yes, you are experiencing the impact of the post-Pandemic phenomenon, the “Great Resignation,” also called the “Great Reshuffe,” that has resulted in employees leaving their jobs and the workplace in record numbers.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2021, the number of total separations increased to 6.3 million, up 382,000 from the previous month. It is no surprise that employees left the workforce during the Pandemic, considering their demands of a full workload, often in a make-shift offce and while managing childcare and child education responsibilities and caretaking of themselves and relatives with COVID-19. Significantly, employees also reassessed their priorities during the pandemic.

A February 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that “low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work are the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year.” In addition, the survey found that employees left their jobs so they could seek more work-life balance and flexibility.

In March of this year Microsoft Corporation released its second annual Work Trend Index report, Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work, that analysed 31,000 people in 31 countries along with an analysis of trillions of productivity signals in Microsoft 365 and labor trends on LinkedIn. The study revealed that Microsoft employees “are not the same people who went home to work in early 2020,” Significantly, the study found that the challenge for companies “is to meet employees’ great new expectations head on while balancing business outcomes in an unpredictable economy.”

As employers face staffing challenges, they are well-served to consider the options of remote or hybrid work opportunities, as applicable, based on their position and industry. (Definitely not an option for the pilots referenced in the introduction to this article).

Employers should consider starting with a job analysis to determine the essential job functions of the position and whether the job can effectively be performed in a remote or hybrid manner. Following that, employers can include that information in a new or revised job description. Employers who offer employees the opportunity to work remotely should consider security issues, such as the protection of confidential, proprietary information; providing necessary equipment and supplies for employees to perform the job; ensuring that employees are reporting their time; adhering to state and local laws, including tax requirements, if employees are working in other states; and managing other risk management issues, such as workers’ compensation coverage.

Also, in some states employers must reimburse employees for business expenses, and employers should understand those obligations and ensure that they have a system in place to manage employee expenses and reimbursement. For hybrid work, employers should plan for scheduling, particularly where team projects are involved, as well continuation of safety and health practices, such as monitoring and screening for COVID-19.

In sum, remote and hybrid work options may be helpful for employers to sustain their business and to attract and retain employees. However, pivoting to those models requires planning, and employers are wellserved to understand the applicable laws and regulations, review and revise their policies and procedures to address the new model, as well as addressing risk management issues.

As always, employee training is a valuable tool for employers to build in success and ensure that employees understand the job expectations. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Gail Golman Holtzman

Gail Golman Holtzman

GGI member firm
Taylor English Duma LLP
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Atlanta (GA), USA
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Taylor English Duma LLP is a fullservice law firm headquartered in Atlanta. The firm represents all types of clients from Fortune 500 companies to start ups to individuals. A 2018 recipient of the Forbes Small Giants award, the firm is the Georgia law firm member of GGI Global Alliance.

Gail Golman Holtzman is a Partner in the Labor and Employment Department with Taylor English Duma LLP, with more than 35 years of experience, including as inhouse counsel. She is based in Tampa, Florida. Holtzman has led investigations and been a national speaker on a myriad of employment topics, including discrimination, harassment, and board governance as part of the #MeToo movement.

Published: Employment Law Newsletter, No.12, Summer 2022l Photo: Julia - stock.adobe.com

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