How to Stop The Great Resignation Damaging Your Business
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted lives and forced many professionals to take a step back and reflect. The statistics are stunning. Over 4 million Americans quit their job in July 2021 and at the end of July, almost 11 million open jobs were available. The US has seen the most extreme employee reaction to the pandemic, but a similar effect is taking place in the UK and Europe. Organizations must invest in helping their managers relearn skills that will enable them to address the new, unique needs of their teams and stop the Great Resignation damaging your business.
We’re at a pivotal turning point in workplace culture, and employers need to be proactive about creating a more sustainable work environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching and unforeseen consequences in all aspects of society — one of the most prevalent being the workplace. Virtually overnight, companies needed to quickly and efficiently pivot to embrace a remote workforce and establish a completely new way of operating their business with their employees being the most crucial component to ongoing success. Although drastic, this change was not entirely negative, as it proved many employees could successfully handle working remotely, leaving them with more time to spend with family, less time commuting, and ultimately a better work-life balance.
The Great Resignation is a movement with momentum.
The people you’re hoping to save are likely already negotiating with their next employer. Other people considering leaving are feeling emboldened witnessing the fearlessness of their peers. The key to successful retention is truly understanding what employees value the most when it comes to their workplace environment and then acting on it. It’s imperative that we get creative with retention strategies and cater to the needs and wants of today’s workforce.
Employees are no longer willing to put work first in their lives; they want balance.
They are willing to leave their jobs to find what makes them happy. Organizations have started to realize that the retention of these quality employees is more important than having a rigid structure. Organizations should now consider if they can flex the rigid policies or schedules that have existed for years to accommodate this new employee mindset.
Here are five ways you should rethink retention strategies for the coming year.
So if you’re a business owner your palms may be starting to sweat right now. But, with any hurdle, there’s a way to get over it. After all, you got through 2020! So here’s how to develop your business into a resignation free zone. To navigate this new world of work, here are five ways that will help you go up against the Great Resignation and avoid damaging your business.
The Great Resignation Tip #1: Flexibility Is Key
Because the pandemic is an ongoing public health emergency, it’s only natural that some employees want to continue working remotely. It’s no secret that the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus is still high in some regions of the country and the world. Employees should be allowed to come into the workplace or remain home if they fear exposure to the virus. Do your best to be understanding and place yourself in the shoes of those who want to work from home.
Draconian policies are going to drive employees away.
Companies that insist on a complete return to the office, without even asking how employees feel, will find that this insensitivity is greeted with a wave of resignations. The answer is to take a human-centric approach. We are managing human resources, and this involves helping our people manage their work and careers. If employers start from the assumption that employee attitudes have changed since 2019 then they can begin to create a path back to how the office will function in future. Once you have a better picture of what your team actually wants then you can plan for the future. It may involve reducing your office footprint, introducing hot desks, or using managed office services like We Work to introduce more flexibility.
If your work-life lines are blurred, wellness is an even more critical goal.
When both work and life roles were forced into the same physical space, many people got better at managing self-care, recognizing that when they have autonomy with their day, they make choices that improve both work and life. For those workers facing a return to the office, they may fear a threat to the wellness routines they have come to appreciate. After a year of being told to look after our health, it should be no surprise that many of the behaviors associated with fairness at work have centered around the theme of work-life balance.
Even if you’re still finalizing your post-pandemic workforce plans, the time to give employees some assurances is now — before it’s too late.
If your leaders are still on the fence about remote work, ask them if they’re willing to risk losing top performers, because that may well be the price of making the office mandatory. There’s also the question of who will be allowed to work remotely and who won’t. For employees whose jobs can be performed from anywhere, extending remote work options to some and not others could leave a sour taste in people’s mouths. Aim to make your policy as extensive and equitable as possible, and provide clear guidelines around eligibility so that no one feels unfairly left out.
If 2020 taught the working world something, it’s that we can be trusted to work from home.
Although many people like social interaction too, it’s nice to be able to choose where you work. Letting your workforce retain that freedom will mean a lot to them. Businesses are increasingly requesting, in some cases requiring, employees to return to the workplace. However, employers must understand that employees’ lives have changed substantially since the onset of COVID; they’ve been homeschooling children, started a side business, taken on large home projects and, in general, have a new daily routine. With these changes have come new needs, priorities and expectations; therefore, it’s critical for managers to speak with each employee to understand what those are and then do whatever is possible to accommodate them. These accommodations in combination with demonstrating that your organization cares about their unique life situations are key to countering the effects of the Great Resignation.
The Great Resignation Tip #2: Keep an Open Line of Communication
Whether employees are on or offsite — and especially if they’re offsite — managers need to be highly attuned to the need for keeping employees engaged through ongoing, meaningful communications. Employees working from home can feel isolated and forgotten. Video conferencing can be helpful to maintain interactions, but don’t rely solely on that. Pick up the phone and call an employee. Invite them into the office from time to time. When in the office, make time to stop by and check in to see how they’re doing.
When employees are treated like valued people rather than cogs in a wheel, they’re more likely to remain engaged — and on the payroll.
Transparent communication among staff and management needed to increase during the pandemic. HR professionals, in particular, were tasked with constantly communicating safety, policy and business updates. This level of communication is now the expectation, which provides a great opportunity to build a stronger company culture. Ensure your HR department maintains processes that encourage open and honest communication. This can include anything from satisfaction surveys on a regular cadence to establishing open office hours for any questions or concerns. By creating opportunities to provide more frequent and even anonymous feedback, employers can glean much-needed information about how their programs are resonating.
Good communication is a cornerstone of successful businesses.
Team members collaborate with one another, and departments act in harmony working toward common goals. If members of your organization are not communicating openly, your business is not running as efficiently as it could be. Inviting your personnel to offer feedback encourages open communication. You show them you know you don’t have all the answers and that you value their input. Even when you feel like your plan of action is air-tight and unassailable, ask employees for feedback. They can see things you can’t. They may help you prevent a costly blunder, and all the while, you’re building a workplace that encourages open communication.
Effective communication seems simple, but it does take effort.
Management should communicate their goals as well as those of the company. Routinely talking with your employees about their goals, both personal and professional, will create accountability for both management and employees. When an issue surfaces, it must be dealt with immediately so everyone can move on. Achievements must be recognized and communicated not only directly to the deserving individual, but publicly so all can take part in the celebration. When you create an open environment, it will lead to greater job satisfaction, reduced stress, loyalty and mutual respect throughout the organization with the outcome of creating a more productive work environment and a positive workplace.
The success of a hybrid work model depends on communication.
And yet, 60% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communications strategy, particularly when it comes to communication in this “new age.” It is the job of leadership to ensure employees understand organizational changes. As leadership considers implementation plans, be clear about who is impacted by these decisions, as well as how and when you’ll communicate changes to employees. As with any communication strategy, communication surrounding a new hybrid work model should consider your audience, your messaging, and the channels you will use to communicate the new strategy.
The Great Resignation Tip #3: Develop Structured Growth Opportunities
Today’s employees more than ever are saying they value opportunities to learn and grow. If they can’t do that within your organization, they’re likely to seek those opportunities elsewhere. Even if you don’t have ample opportunities for employees to move into higher-level roles, you can still provide them with ways to learn new skills or take on more challenging projects.
A key retention strategy should include developing clear career paths and mentorship programs.
This not only helps your organization remain competitive to job seekers but also allows for succession plans for aging leadership. Make sure that you understand employees’ career goals during their initial interviews and continue this dialogue into their employment. It’s important that candidates and employees know that their personal career goals are prioritized, as this will increase engagement and prove they are supported in their growth. Managers should have regular discussions about career goals and seek opportunities for employees that align with their goals. This could include cross-training programs to expand individuals’ skill sets or establishing mentorship programs with an experienced leader within the organization.
World-changing events are enough to make anyone reevaluate what they want from life.
For some, this prompted the decision to finally pursue their dream job or get out of a career path that isn’t quite right for them. While you won’t be able to retain every employee who decides to radically alter their trajectory, you can take steps to help people make meaningful lateral moves. If employees don’t know how to find new roles at your company or fear their manager won’t be supportive, they’ll almost certainly look elsewhere. People want to work for organizations that help them grow. Flexible work assignments allow people who want to develop professionally to try different projects within an organization. Similar to cross-training, this would allow employees to grow their skillset and knowledge making them more valuable to the organization. In turn, employees that take on different assignments for different departments and/or supervisor will have a deeper understanding of the overall organization. They will be ready to step up to the next level in the organization when a position becomes available.
The organization and your team members will both benefit if leaders consistently assess each individual’s potential and help them see what their path and prospects could be.
When you invest in training and development for your team, you expect a performance boost from the new skills that employees can apply to organizational goals. But employees who believe that you’re investing because you care about their careers also tend to have increased engagement and commitment; their heightened sense of connection and loyalty often motivates them to achieve and contribute in new ways. Yes, your main goal as an employer is the success of your business or department, but if your employees aren’t feeling growth personally, they won’t care as much about your bottom line. Make sure you allow your employees time for themselves — to become what and who they want to become. This is key to employee engagement and retention.
Contrary to popular belief, offering your employees growth opportunities is more likely to retain top talent than drive them away.
Employee loyalty increases the more you invest in the people who work for you. If you’re not already prioritizing growth opportunities in your talent management strategy, you should be. As professionals, we can’t find ourselves falling into the trap of remaining stagnant or complacent with just a job as opposed to a career. Investing in growth opportunities will not only challenge your employees but benefit them and the organization. When employees feel cared for and trusted, it motivates them to do more and ignites the desire to thrive within the company.
The Great Resignation Tip #4: Boost Workplace Wellbeing
Employees need to come to work feeling well, both physically and mentally, to deliver on job expectations, get projects done and perform well. Sick or exhausted people are not contributing to the company’s overall performance, leading to job dissatisfaction and reduced productivity.
While providing opportunities for employees to get active, like offering in-person fitness classes, is great, understand that employee wellbeing encompasses much more than physical health.
It’s also mental wellbeing, feeling financially secure, having healthy, supportive relationships and having a sense of purpose. Try to schedule virtual or in-person coffee meet-ups and team-building activities to help promote connectivity. Professional or personal development can be a great way to boost wellbeing, as well. Topics to consider include financial planning, boundary setting and building resiliency. Remind employees of your company’s vision and mission and how each individual contributes to its success.
The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, but experiences during the pandemic have differed widely for employees depending on personal circumstances.
Stress has been a constant, as well as the uncertainty of what the future will bring and how the pandemic experience will impact a person’s health. Having conversations and offering resources to help employees deal with the stress and potential burnout they’re feeling can go a long way toward keeping them engaged and on board. When employees feel cared about, they’re more committed, engaged, have lower stress, and better well-being. Countless employees worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and faced the challenge of balancing both personal priorities and work responsibilities during a turbulent time. In response, this placed a focus on what organizations are doing to ensure employees feel supported.
To curb burnout-fueled resignations at your company, it’s not enough to give employees time off and expect them to take it when they need it.
For one thing, travel options remain limited, so people may feel they don’t have an excuse to use time typically earmarked for vacations. Others may feel that their work culture encourages always-on behavior, making it difficult to unplug. Employers like Mozilla, LinkedIn, and Bumble have tried to nudge staff into taking time for themselves by scheduling week-long, company-wide shutdowns. By making time off mandatory and showing that everyone (including the leadership team) needs and deserves it, companies can remove any stigma around it and show that they care about employee well-being.
Poor mental and physical health leads to low mood, poor concentration, difficulty with decision-making, and inadequate performance.
When healthy, employees think more clearly, are more optimistic, and cope better under pressure. Supporting employees’ mental health is as important as ensuring their physical wellbeing. A happy and health workforce is essential for the growth of the organization. It is therefore imperative for leaders to create employee wellbeing programs at focus on overall health of employees. Moreover, it helps employees is building trust and loyalty towards their employers and they are ready to go the extra mile for fulfilling organizational goals.
The Great Resignation Tip #5: Adopt a Spirit of Transparency
It’s safe to say that another workplace element that people are almost universally looking for is authenticity. Authenticity has always mattered, especially for the younger generations, but now it matters more than ever and it may be the difference between being a company where people actively want to work and one where they’ll only work until they can find something better.
By “authenticity,” I don’t just mean providing a workplace environment where employees feel they can be their authentic selves.
That matters too, but what I’m referring to is the need for employers to be authentic and transparent in the way that they communicate and present themselves. It means that if you present your organization a certain way, you want to make sure that you’re in a position to be able to back it with action and longitudinal commitment or there will be a backlash because Gen Z sniffs out inauthenticity with ease. For companies that don’t wish to lose any more employees, there is an urgent need to do an internal authenticity audit, and if there’s a gap between self-portrayal and reality, leaders need to either start showing real commitment to their spoken values or present themselves more truthfully.
No truth, no trust. No trust, no team.
Throughout this pandemic, leaders are on display. In organizations, cities, nations, or even families, the way leaders show up impacts those around them. We believe that authenticity in leadership has never been more critical. Over the past ten days, I witnessed examples of authentic leadership in two very different industries, large-scale financial services and high-growth healthcare. Both cases demonstrate the power of trust in calming fears and building hope, and ultimately, impacting individual and team performance. Although there will be many new challenges to tackle, one good thing that will come from this season is our willingness to be and see each other as more human.
Every individual has a set of values and fundamental beliefs that guide their behavior and make them who they are.
Same goes for leaders, because they too are individuals like you and I. Your perspective may evolve over time, but you should operate within a certain band and display consistency. As a leader you must adjust your leadership style to the situation to connect with people, but you should never compromise your values when doing so. That is where authenticity comes in — you have to be yourself. As an authentic leader you must be true to yourself, so do not try to be something you are not and attempt to emulate someone else. You may study other leaders and you should, but do not think that you can just duplicate their approaches and expect similar results.
If there’s ever been a time in our lives when the world has needed strong and authentic leaders to reassure us that there is, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel, the time is definitely now.
Early in the crisis, no one — not even business leaders — had all the answers. In fact, today, we’re still learning a lot as we go. But through it all, they’ve known that providing a north star for employees to latch onto was critical to keep business moving forward. Whether it was to give employees a glimmer of hope or simply remind them that, despite all the chaos happening in the world, each and every employee still had an important role to play in a company’s future. That really is the essence of authentic leadership, defined as a style of leadership that emphasizes transparency, genuineness, and honesty within the workplace.
How resilient has your company been during the pandemic? Do you have strong leaders who can lead into the future? Your ability to stem the flow of the great migration may depend on both. Refer to these tips if you feel overwhelmed by the Great Resignation. You’ll be ready to face any workforce issues that arise, and you and your company will come out stronger on the other side.
The Great Resignation is here. And it’s causing employees to question what matters most.
Eighty-five percent of employers agree that the pandemic has altered beliefs about what constitutes a good job. But this presents a real opportunity for learning and development professionals. Creating ways to learn and grow in the workplace — like the strategies discussed here — can reaffirm employees’ commitment to your organization and minimize the impact of the Great Resignation.
A misguided notion that needs to be put to rest once and for all is that “people don’t want to work.” That is not true.
People do want to work. That part hasn’t changed. What has changed is that they no longer want to work at jobs that aren’t working for them. And so as the Great Resignation continues throughout 2022, organizations that want to stop losing talented workers or, conversely, who want to attract those who have already quit other jobs, must remember and practice the aforementioned tips. And if an employee does join the Great Resignation movement, at least you’ve written a positive story for an employee to take with them when they leave.
If you’ve lost some people, apparently, there are a LOT of people looking for greener pastures right now.
This is your chance to make any adjustments you need to make to how your business is perceived by the best talent. Also, people who are leaving can be a great source of learning. Ask and then listen carefully to what they tell you about the things that could be better in your business and about improvements you could make in your leadership. The Great Resignation is disrupting businesses of all sizes and in all industries, and at all levels of the organization. However, organizations who utilize strategies to combat the mass exodus, such as those discussed in this article, can minimize the loss of top talent.
There are many reasons why employees may be considering leaving their jobs. While some may be outside of your control, getting proactive about the things you can control can help you get ahead of the Great Resignation and avoid losing your best people.
We’re past the days of office snacks and cool game rooms as a key retention tactic. Organizations need to shift from a work-life mindset to a life-work mindset and place a greater focus on employees. Make people feel like they are seen and valued as human beings, acknowledge that they shouldn’t have to struggle for their basic needs by paying them more, and strive to be more authentic. Organizations that are genuinely able to do this will find that what is the Great Resignation for other companies will be, for them, the Great Recruitment. Are you up for implementing some of the strategies discussed here? I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.