4 Ways You Can Avoid the “Great Resignation”

February 15, 2022

One of the defining factors of the past year was the start of what’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation” — in the U.S. alone, more than 11 million workers left their jobs between April and June 2021. In a global survey conducted by Microsoft, 41% of respondents are considering leaving their current employer this year.

Even more worrying are findings from Adobe, who reports that over half of younger respondents aged 18 – 24 plan to leave their jobs within the next year. Of respondents who classified as “Gen Z,” 59% reported dissatisfaction with their jobs and 52% stated that they’re unhappy with their work-life balance. 

These stats might seem shocking, but they’re not surprising considering how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed not just how people work, but how they think about work. 

Employees are reconsidering their priorities when it comes to their jobs, and stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction with management and leadership are causing many people to look for opportunities that better align with their values and needs.

So how can your organization retain your top talent and avoid The Great Resignation? Keep reading to find out.

1. Help employees find meaning in their work

One of the biggest mistakes that leaders make is assuming that their employees are making the connection between the work they do and how it aligns with the company’s goals, vision, and values. 

As leaders, we need to make sure we’re helping our teams feel as invested in their work as we are. Here are a few ways to make sure your employees feel aligned with your organization:

  • Host company “town halls” where people can voice concerns, highlight successes, and interact with top-level management in constructive ways.
  • Start a public employee recognition program where employees can “nominate” their coworkers each week or month so their contributions can be recognized and celebrated company-wide.
  • Clarify and share your company goals regularly through company-wide emails, reiterating your goals and values in meetings, while being mindful of your day-to-day  language.

2. Empower career development and lateral moves

Life-changing events like the pandemic are perfect opportunities for people to reevaluate what they want out of their careers. For many, this has meant “opting out” of career paths that didn’t feel fulfilling, or quitting a “safe” job to pursue their dream career.

While you won’t be able to retain every employee who decides to shake up their professional trajectory, you can take steps to help current team members make meaningful lateral moves within the organization and provide opportunities for them to develop their skills without jumping ship to another company entirely. 

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Start up a “part time project” program where employees can apply to work in different areas of the company for a specific time. This will give them the chance to try out new roles and responsibilities and can help ease a transition to a new role on a different team.

  • Create custom “career development plans” where management works closely with employees to help develop a plan to get them to where they want to be within the company.

  • Provide on-demand learning resources to help employees develop the skills they’ll need to move their career forward in the direction they want.

One of the keys to retaining top talent is becoming a more effective and inspiring leader. Start developing your skills by signing up for our next EQ-i2.0 / EQ360 Certification

3. Offer more flexible work options 

The last year and a half has shown us that employees don’t need to be physically in an office setting to be productive and get work done. With this in mind, companies should be careful about dictating when people need to be in the office, and work to develop flexible policies that are fair and equitable.

It’s also important to know that while some employees are eager to return to the office, some have no intention of ever going back. One survey found that 39% of people would consider quitting if their employer wasn’t flexible around remote work, with that statistic increasing to 49% among Gen Z workers.

A key element to this shift is to make your policy as extensive and equitable as possible so nobody feels left out. 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to flexible work options, it’s important to act now if you haven’t already. If leaders within the company are on the fence about continuing remote or hybrid work then you risk losing your top performers.

4. Focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

The new generation entering the workforce is more diverse than any other in history. Candidates are reading reviews, researching potential employers, and doing their due diligence before they say “yes” to a job offer.  As a result, company culture matters more than ever. 

In order to attract and retain top talent, you need to make sure that your company’s policies, culture, and values are reflective of the broader shifts in society. Employees expect that they can bring their “complete” selves to work and be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion, so make sure diversity, equity, and inclusion are key tenets of your company’s mission and values.

Make sure you avoid The Great Resignation

One of the driving forces behind The Great Resignation is that employees expect  more from their place of work. More flexibility, more opportunities for advancement, meaningful work, and a more diverse and equitable company culture are all “must haves” in today’s workplace.

Companies that recognize and react proactively to these changes are much more likely to retain and keep top talent no matter what the months and years ahead may bring. 

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