Over the last six months, reports on employees’ turnover in most businesses around the world have been quite alarming. Figures from the hospitability and service sector of the United States of America have been particularly overwhelming. According to the US Labour Department, about 4 million people quit their jobs in April alone, and about 1 million of these people worked in the leisure and hospitality industry which include jobs in hotels, restaurants, theme parks and entertainment venues. Since April, more than 19 Million US workers have turned in their resignation, and this is still counting, noted in a McKinsey quarterly report on the great attrition and attraction.
Recently, fast-foods and grocery stores in the US are folding up in disturbing frequency due to labour scarcity; McDonald says it is open to stepping up hourly wage by over 50 percent, adding sparse benefits including a free bus pass for workers.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, during the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, FIDAS had observed a significant change in the nature of work and work culture across industries and noted a likely pain point to many entrepreneurs in Africa due to slowness in the cultural adjustment of their businesses to the new normal. The possibility of telecommuting and remote working is shifting attention from the mythical 9-hour rule and ‘’monojobbing’’ to multijobbing and flexible hours opportunities for the jobbers. The social relation of production is taking a new shape with the growing popularity of the hybrid mode of production which focuses on the work to be done rather than where it is to be done. The thriving businesses are now those solving the boundary barriers in labour and value exchange.
Hence, as people are fast experiencing how interesting it is to take in more jobs and earn more money within the same 9 hours or less without having to leave the comfort of their homes and their loved ones, they are leaving their jobs in search of more money, more flexibility and more happiness. Many are rethinking what work means to them, how they are valued and how they spend their time.
Femi Adekanbi, a full stack developer at a Fintech Startup in Nigeria, discovers he may have experienced the deepest feeling of productivity and career fulfilment while remote working during the lockdown. Femi who lives with his family in the mainland of Lagos travels several kilometres to his workplace on the Island every day. Due to the tedious traffic, sometimes he’d prefer to not go home after office hours but lodge in a hotel to brace for an important meeting or presentation at work the following morning. According to him, work-life in Lagos is hell.
‘’I’ve always described my job as a hell. But quite surprisingly, during the lockdown, I took in a couple of contract and part-time jobs in addition to my main job. And having more jobs not only meant more money and exposure; it was an escape from the usual monotony’’ he said. ‘’Besides, working remotely presented the most relaxing atmosphere to work. And the company of my family was also a great source of motivation and relaxation. I learnt to deal with the distractions too’’. He added, ‘’The new experience made me realize that the 8 to 5 thing is all a farce, so I had to quit for more flexible hours.’’
The labour exodus and attrition is a reality in Nigeria much as it is in the US. However, we suspect that many entrepreneurs in the country tend to attribute the attrition to employees’ disloyalty and search for better pay rather than seeing it as a corollary to structural disruption due to a change in the economic mode of production. We recommend that entrepreneurs and business owners within the country need to adjust their business models to suit the current reality. They should be willing to incorporate the hybrid model and encourage flexible hours for the employees.