Article

Workers are moving on without meeting their bosses, coworkers

The lack of face-to-face connection makes it easier to switch jobs

November 21, 2021

The Great Resignation is upon us, and some white-collar employees who started new jobs during the pandemic are leaving without ever meeting their team members face to face.

With the remote work experiment now inching toward its second year at many companies, it is not abnormal for an employee who has joined a company to have no personal interactions outside of video calls and chats. The lack of human connection has been a challenge for both employers and employees, with managers struggling to figure out how to retain team members they never met amid a labor shortage, and employees feeling isolated, like they have no ties that would hold them to their employer.

“This is part of the irony of companies staying remote and ultra-flexible to avoid losing employees right now,” says Benjamin Breslau, Chief Research Officer, JLL. “The employees inevitably feel less connected to the company and their teams so retention can be harder.”

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Resignation station

Four million workers in the U.S. alone quit their jobs in July 2021. Resignations reached a peak in April and have remained almost as high in the ensuing months. There were a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July.

For those that stayed, a return to the office on a hybrid schedule, as well as company retreats and other outings, can solidify bonds that were shaky virtually, says Emma Mon, Global Head of Talent, JLL.

“For the employees we hired to the talent team during lockdowns, they didn't meet anyone, and there was such an amazing difference in engagement when we finally met in person,” she says. “They said things like, 'This is amazing, I feel like I am just finally starting to work at JLL.'”

Isolation, Mon says, is at the root of the problem. So is the fact that it is harder to foster company culture over video. To combat it, employers can focus on making the office a place for collaboration and team building.

“The connectivity and stickiness to that company are really created in person,” she says .

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