The “Great Resignation” or the “Big Quit” refers to the idea that many people have become disengaged and disenchanted with their jobs and employers. Some experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, as many people have been forced to work from home and have become disillusioned with the traditional 9-to-5 workday. Additionally, the economic downturn caused by the pandemic has made it more difficult for many people to find new jobs. As a result, some have resigned themselves to staying in jobs that they are not happy with, leading to a sense of apathy and disengagement.
While consulting firms are eager to help their clients navigate this trend, they are affected by it themselves.
In this article, I want to look at how the Great Resignation impacts top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
What is the Great Resignation in a nutshell?
The Great Resignation is a term that refers to the growing sense of disengagement and disenchantment that many people have with their jobs and employers. Some experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, as many people have been forced to work from home and have become disillusioned with the traditional 9-to-5 workday. This, combined with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, has made it more difficult for many people to find new jobs. As a result, some have resigned themselves to staying in jobs that they are not happy with, leading to a sense of apathy and disengagement.
This disengagement can have serious consequences for both employees and employers. For employees, it can lead to decreased job satisfaction and productivity, as well as increased stress and burnout. For employers, it can lead to high turnover rates and difficulty in attracting and retaining top talent. Additionally, it can lead to a lack of innovation and creativity in the workplace, which can negatively impact the company’s bottom line.
However, there are steps that both employees and employers can take to address the Great Resignation. For employees, it may involve taking steps to improve their work-life balance, such as setting boundaries around when they will and will not be available to work. Employers, on the other hand, can take steps to create a more positive and engaging work environment, such as offering flexible schedules, providing opportunities for professional development, and fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration. By taking these steps, both employees and employers can work together to create a more positive and productive work environment.
What are the causes of the Great Resignation?
The Great Resignation is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes. Some of the main causes are:
- Remote working: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, which has disrupted the traditional workday and has made it more difficult for many people to separate their work and personal lives. This can lead to increased stress and burnout, which can negatively impact employee engagement and productivity. This is especially true for consultants, who are used to splitting their work life and private life during the week. Being at home comes with all the disadvantages and no advantage of the job, where everything is taken care of, once you work from the client site (e.g., logistics, hotel, food).
- Economic downturn: The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for many people to find new jobs. This has led to many people feeling trapped in jobs that they are not happy with, which can lead to a sense of apathy and disengagement. Exit opportunities for consultants have definitely become worse in the current environment.
- Job insecurity: The current economic climate has made many people feel insecure in their jobs. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact employee engagement and productivity.
- Lack of opportunities for professional development: Many people feel that they are not being given the opportunity to develop their skills and advance their careers. This can lead to a sense of stagnation and disengagement.
- Poor work-life balance: Many people feel that their work is taking over their personal lives, which can lead to increased stress and burnout.
- Poor working conditions: Some people feel that their working conditions are not adequate, with factors such as poor ergonomics, lack of light, poor air quality, and noise pollution which can negatively impact their engagement and productivity.
- Lack of employee empowerment and autonomy: Some people feel that they do not have enough autonomy in their jobs and do not feel that they are able to make a meaningful impact. This can lead to a sense of disengagement and apathy.
- Lack of diversity, equity and inclusion: The lack of representation, discrimination, and bias can lead to a feeling of isolation, lack of belonging, and disconnection.
How does the Great Resignation affect consulting firms?
The Great Resignation can have a significant impact on top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, as they rely heavily on the engagement and productivity of their consultants. A disengaged workforce can lead to decreased job satisfaction and productivity among consultants, which in turn can negatively impact the quality of work produced by the firm and its ability to attract and retain clients. High turnover rates among consultants can also be costly for the firm, as it can take time and resources to find and train replacement employees. Informal numbers put the cost of hiring and training a new consultant at around USD 100,000 for firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that these firms would have a tough time with decreased employee satisfaction.
Additionally, the Great Resignation can also affect the ability of top-tier consulting firms to attract top talent. If a firm is known for having a high-stress and disengaging work environment, it may struggle to attract top-performing consultants who are looking for a more positive and fulfilling work experience. This can negatively impact the firm’s competitive advantage, as it may struggle to offer the same level of expertise and service as other firms that are able to attract and retain top talent.
How are firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain reacting to the Great Resignation?
However, top-tier consulting firms are taking steps to mitigate the effects of the Great Resignation. This includes offering more flexible schedules, providing opportunities for professional development, fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration, and creating a more positive and engaging work environment.
Additionally, consulting firms can provide their employees with work-life balance and provide them with mental health support, making the work environment more conducive and employees more productive, motivated, and less likely to disengage. By taking these steps, the top consulting firms work to attract and retain top talent and maintain a high level of productivity and engagement among their employees, even with this mindset shift in the current post-pandemic workforce.
Asked about their measures to combat this trend, the responses of the top firms align. They are all taking steps to address the Great Resignation and maintain engagement and productivity among their employees. Some of the measures it has taken include:
- Flexible working: For instance, McKinsey has been an early adopter of flexible working policies, which allows its employees to have more control over their work-life balance. This can help to reduce stress and burnout among employees and make the work environment more positive and engaging.
- Employee Wellbeing: BCG has implemented various programs and initiatives to support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of its employees. This includes providing access to mental health resources and support and promoting a culture of self-care and resilience.
- Professional Development: McKinsey has a strong focus on professional development and provides its employees with opportunities to learn new skills and advance their careers. This can help to keep employees engaged and motivated, and can also make the firm more attractive to top talent.
- Collaboration and Communication: Bain promotes a culture of open communication and collaboration, which can help to foster a sense of community and belonging among employees.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: All firms have been actively promoting and addressing the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This can help to create a more inclusive and positive work environment, which can help to improve employee engagement and productivity.
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