Associate Professor at Texas A&M University, Anthony Klotz, is credited with coining the term “The Great Resignation”. This refers to when there has been a surge in resignations in a company due to four key factors: Including a backlog of staff who felt like resigning pre-pandemic but didn’t as a result of current affairs. Resignation due to mass burnout, seen with frontline workers. ‘Pandemic epiphanies' , where people come to new conclusions about their personal identities and with that comes a wish to pursue new interests. As well as having an aversion to coming back to work in an office when they have had so much time working remotely. Generally speaking, employees are feeling a lot more empowered about asking for flexibility and amendments to schedules, salaries, packages and general work conditions. In fact, the work place is no longer what it once was and employers should embrace the change and work with employees in order to avoid “The Great Resignation” wave from reaching their businesses.
How to combat “The Great Resignation”
Understand the shift in needs
Over the past two years, employee expectations, priorities and needs have shifted dramatically. Hold in mind that this is not just because work changed, but because people’s personal lives changed too. For example they may now be homeschooling more, they may have had to let go childcare, routines may have changed or they may have become more efficient working remotely. With this in mind it is absolutely critical that employers speak to each member of their teams individually in order to ascertain what has changed and what they now need. Where possible, try and understand if their new needs can be accommodated and don’t apply a blanket rule to everyone. When you take this approach, you are demonstrating to your workers that you care about them and want them to live full, well rounded lives. This will counter the effects of “The Great Resignation”.
Carefully discuss burnout
Burnout is real, and ignoring it won’t help matters. Rather, create a supportive environment with a culture of care and where staff are okay with asking for help. One way of showing this is by creating effective communication. Think about implementing positive shows of appreciation and recognition directly from senior management. Continuously ask employees how they are managing their workloads and offer additional support where possible. If your business is in a position to offer resources like an Employee Assistance Program then do so. You will be surprised at how effective it can be to simply say “I see you’re having trouble and how can I help?”
Emphasis wellbeing in the workplace
Employee wellness programs are a wonderful way to encourage staff to get active and think about their mental health. But actually this extends beyond these areas into thinking holistically about balance, feeling secure financially, creating strong and healthy relationships and linking to a sense of purpose. It is vital that you remind your employees that your company’s vision and mission cannot be attained without their buy in and contribution. This will also help them tap into the bigger picture and build their lives around this.
Create loyalty incentive programs
It is important that you pay people well enough to take the issue of money off the table. So besides basic salaries, consider including other types of compensation like one-time bonuses and work-from-home stipends. When you revisit your compensation packages you also have the opportunity to reevaluate if salaries are in line with the value they are offering or if they are lower than they should be either due to colour or gender inequalities or changes in role.
Offer opportunities for growth
Forward-thinking companies around the world are now conducting ‘retention interviews’ where they ask each employee “what is your dream job here?” and then they look for ways to make that happen for them. Essentially here they are asking their staff, what would it take for them to stay.. Here you are engaging directly with employees around what makes them tick, what skills they have or still need and how you can work together for the greater good of both them and your business.
Heighten your purpose
Purpose is at the heart of any organisation. It links to why people join and why they want to stay. In difficult times, people will cling to order and belief in what an organisation is doing. So this makes it really important to prove to your staff that you are more than just about a bottom line but rather that your business stands for something important. Once you have a clear purpose you can then shape what you are doing and how you are doing it, together with your team.
The bottom line
“The Great Resignation” is a real concern for employers. Changing times and uncertainty cause enormous shifts and this can really interrupt team dynamics leading to resignation of strong people. Always keep in mind that staff are not just worker bees, but they are actually people with needs, aspirations and struggles. When a company puts staff individuality back in the picture, employees will feel it on a visceral level and will be more inclined to stay.