Quitters are Calling the Shots: Can Your Company Avoid the Great Resignation?

Quitters are Calling the Shots: Can Your Company Avoid the Great Resignation?

  • Is your business ready for the Great Resignation?
  • What’s In It for Me? Keeping the Talent You Have (and Attracting More) During the Great Resignation
  • “I Quit.” Retaining Talent (and Finding More) During the Great Resignation

When the Wall Street Journal runs an article called “How to Quit Your Job Gracefully,” it’s clear something very different is going on. As the pandemic that wreaked havoc on businesses and left millions unemployed enters a new phase and the Delta variant renewing our sense of fear and uncertainty, instructions on how to walk away from a paycheck seem out of place, to say the least.

Yet, it’s one of the hottest topics among employees and employers today. After more than a year of adaptation to remote and hybrid scenarios, there is a reckoning of sorts in which workers are reimagining the role of their career within the bigger picture. With over 4 million people leaving their jobs in April alone, it’s clear that companies who don’t address the new needs of a fundamentally changed workforce may end up scrambling amidst what is being called the Great Resignation.

Looking ahead, how can companies best prepare for this shift? Beyond that, how can they use this moment as an opportunity to position themselves as a valued employer?

New workforce analytics: Human capital

Now is the time for companies to take a deep dive into data that goes beyond the traditional metrics of productivity, performance and how to get the most out of team members. Today, the more important measurements are around employees as people. How are they doing in terms of mental health and wellness? Do they feel supported in terms of technology needs and communication? How are they feeling about their position?

It’s important to gauge the overall employee experience, including human behavior. When employees are fearful or feeling uncertain, they will often make a move from a place of emotion rather than one of logic. Using more personal analytics from the start, employers can better prevent these emotional moves. Acknowledging human capital means communicating around everything from job satisfaction to technology tools; anything that can help employees feel successful.

Tracking experiential analytics for new employees can start even before day one on the job. Addressing the full employee lifecycle means reevaluating onboarding processes to make sure new hires feel welcome, ensuring that clear expectations are set from the start and being clear about how performance is evaluated. Transparency and communication are critical so that feedback can continue throughout the full employee lifecycle.

Culture: Listen and adapt

When the pandemic took hold in 2020, companies that already had a solid foundation built around core values were best positioned to adapt to remote collaboration. With key tenets like transparency and communication in place, shifting gears for unprecedented times was a less disruptive undertaking.

Now, as the emergence of the Delta variant delays what most had hoped would be a return to normal, companies need to reevaluate what changed during the last year and what bigger needs were realized so that accommodations can be made going forward. Employees are paying attention, too; a recent study found that 85% of workers surveyed see reinforcing their connection to company culture as their manager’s responsibility. When asked the best ways for that connection to be strengthened, 42% said offering remote work resources and 33% said updating policies to reflect the way work has changed.

For employers, this might mean understanding that while some employees will come back to the office, others may not be able to for health reasons or have children at home who can’t go back to school. It may mean adjusting communication channels or creating more opportunities for feedback. An adaptive culture means supporting employees based on their needs, whether it be through mental health services, an employee assistance program, flexible hours or streamlined workflow.

Acquisition and retention: Get creative

With workers making career changes in large numbers, companies need to not only think about how to find the best talent in what is clearly an employee’s market, but how to hang on to the talent they have. In addition to leaning into people-focused communication and adaptive company culture, businesses can also empower current staffers by streamlining processes through automation. While it may seem counterintuitive, automation can often help employees by freeing them up to take advantage of new opportunities within the organization. Another retention step is recognizing top performers who are not only contributing to their employer’s success but can also be the most susceptible to burnout. Through transparent career progression conversations, stretch exposure and mentorship opportunities, companies can provide a supportive environment for high-value talent.

In attracting new talent, businesses need to see themselves from an applicant’s viewpoint. Today’s job seeker is concerned less about salary and more about what a company can bring to the table in relation to their needs and values. They are asking questions about work flexibility, social responsibility and sustainable practices. To address these touchpoints, companies should first and foremost update their careers page to reflect what they offer; show the ways they give back to the community, highlight employee events, present leadership as real people with stories to tell.

Beyond that, talent outreach that addresses today’s new priorities requires creativity. Getting in front of exceptional talent takes more than posting on job sites. It might mean working with colleges on opportunities for recent grads or advanced degree candidates. It could be working within organizations focused on diversity, equity and inclusion to bring in candidates who reflect a company’s commitment to those values.

The newly configured workforce of 2021 and beyond is demanding a two-way, mutually beneficial commitment. Businesses that respond will reap the benefits, as the more value they present to employees, the more value those employees will bring to the company. Strengthened by the combination, companies can then bring more to their clients and customers. In the end, a once-in-a-century shakeup could benefit everyone in the mix.

Written by Debra Lopez.