The Great Resignation: Insight into Retention and Empowerment

December 27, 2021
Devyn Mikell
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The world of work feels like it’s moving at a faster pace with a new load of stress weighing heavier and heavier each day. The Great Resignation has left employers scrambling to manage their employee shortage. Employers face significantly smaller teams, which has led to many companies shortening their hours or shutting down altogether. 

The Great Resignation reared its head in 2021 when 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. The term was coined by Texas A&M's Anthony Klotz. According to a survey recently conducted by Monster, 95% of workers are considering changing jobs, and 92% will switch industries if it means landing a new position. A high percentage of these numbers include Millennials and Generation Z, as 56% of Gen Z workers said they are unhappy with their work-life balance. 

What Caused The Great Resignation? 

In 2020, employees began working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, the lines blurred between their work-life balance. Workers are always using technology, and it is more difficult to fully “clock out” of work. Not to mention, the economic recession and unemployment rate is the worst it's been since the Great Depression

The pandemic caused many employers to change policies quickly and it left employees with anxiety and dissatisfaction with their workplace. Many watched their employers make budget cuts and lay-offs. The news cycle since 2020 has harmed people's mental health, and workplace changes amplified these challenges. SHRM has stated, “work-related concerns left more than 40% of employees feeling hopeless, burned out, or exhausted as they grapple with lives altered by COVID-19.” 

Workers are also resigning due to a lack of compensation and recognition from their employers. The federal minimum wage has not risen with inflation, and many cannot support themselves with their current wages. Employees also feel unrecognized and not listened to by their employers. 

What Helps Employers Retain Talent?

The economic downturn put pressure on essential workers and skeleton teams. Many workers are burnt out and employers are grasping at ways to improve retention and the employee experience. Here are a few places employers can place their focus: 

🔊 Communication 

One of the most significant attributes employees are looking for in a job is honesty and transparency. Employees know the difficulty of keeping up with constant economic and societal changes, and they want employers to be transparent when there is uncertainty. Employees value communication and when their managers listen to their input and concerns. 

☮️ Create a Positive Work Culture 

Companies only spend about 10% of their time developing and engaging with their most talented employees. Increasing this percentage will improve employee retention. Employees do not resign because of the company themselves but because of poor leadership. Focus on your internal leadership and improve your company's management skills. This could include constantly checking in with employees and changing policies to encourage a healthier work-life balance. 

💡 Reconsider your Hiring and Promotions Strategy

The changes in employee expectations offer you a blueprint for retention. Conduct pay equity audits and review your promotion process to provide clarity on how employees can move up in their careers. If your promotion and hiring criteria are objective and well-defined, it will make a positive impression on potential candidates and aid in maintaining your top talent.

Although The Great Resignation presents difficulties for employers, it’s an opportunity to improve your employee experience. Start by intentionally finding ways to mitigate bias in your hiring process. Show respect for your employee’s time and autonomy. Empower them to make decisions and intentionally show how you value their time and expertise.

The true key to hanging on to employees is up to each manager to decide for their specific team, but there is more to cracking this code than offering flexibility or remote work. It's now critical for employers to acknowledge the role work has on its employee's lives and convince them that the stress of logging in day after day is worth the mental and emotional toll, lost time, and missed family memories. After a year of devastating mortality across the globe, employees might be weighing their options more than you might realize.

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