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The Great Resignation: Learning from the ‘Great Saves’ of Other Workplaces

Fiona Stevenson
In Part 1 of our blog series on the Great Resignation, Energy for Growth Co-Founder Fiona Stevenson explores what we could stand to learn from leaders who have successfully retained their people, both proactively and in the nick of time, and shares her take on what workplaces can be doing to counterbalance this very real phenomenon.

Social media feeds have been flooded in recent months with warnings about the Great Resignation.  And, by all accounts, it’s a real phenomenon. 3.87 million US workers quit their jobs in June, according to the BLS’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, almost matching the monthly record, set in April, of 3.99 million.  And according to a study by Microsoft, more than 40 percent of the global workforce would consider leaving their jobs this year.

Amid all the news of mass resignations – there are also accounts of employees who were on the brink of leaving their current employer but ended up staying.  While these stories are less likely to get the media spotlight, they offer a perhaps greater opportunity for learning for employers looking – not only to mitigate the impact of the Great Resignation within their walls – but also build stronger, more magnetic and energizing workplaces as a result.

Even Those Prone to Staying are Reevaluating What’s Important

People aren’t just shifting jobs – but rather shifting their mindsets, contemplating what is important to them in terms of lifestyle, workplace factors and their career trajectory.  And although switching companies may be the most obvious way to achieve their pandemic-borne criteria across these dimensions – it’s not always the most attractive option, particularly for those who have formed close bonds with fellow colleagues or for those working in a field or at a company highly aligned with their purpose and values.

Transparent Conversations Key to Combating Great Resignation

Significant disruptions or trauma are typically triggers for people to re-evaluate some or all areas of their lives – and the pandemic has been a trigger for an entire global population at once.

Knowing this process of reevaluation is happening broadly, smart employers are recognizing the critical importance of initiating transparent and frequent talks with their employees about what they are looking to change in their professional lives – and finding ways to accommodate these evolving needs and desires, ideally in ways that are also beneficial to the organization as a whole.

Look for opportunities to facilitate deeper discussions with your employees, whether it’s carving out space in regular 1:1 catch-ups devoted strictly to this purpose, or scheduling a separate meeting where you have the time and space to dive more deeply into career aspirations and workplace factors – and then ensuring you do it on a regular cadence – whether it’s monthly or quarterly. If you manage other managers – ensure they are doing the same with their direct reports.

Offer Your People the Opportunity to Shape Culture

A fellow entrepreneur recently told me the story of a valued employee who had been approached by a competitive company with an attractive job offer. As this employee shared the news of the offer (which she had not yet accepted) with him, he could sense that there was perhaps something holding her back.

A deep conversation about what she was looking for from her role and in a workplace environment led to a restructuring of her position to include HR duties, including leading culture initiatives for the company. She was thrilled, declined the competing offer, and is more energized than she’s ever been.  A win for the employee, in this case, was also a win for the employer – not just in saving a valued employee from leaving by giving them an expanded role that aligned with her passions – but in a renewed focus on organizational culture, which will benefit all employees.

Sharing and Reapplying Successful Approaches

When faced with adversity, although it’s a lot more productive to focus on solutions, we often invest disproportionate focus and energy on ruminating about the problem or fearing potential negative outcomes.  Instead of reading article after article about how The Great Resignation might negatively impact your business, look for content from or profiling leaders that are making the Great Resignation an opportunity vs. a crisis for their businesses.  Chances are that there are great saves happening inside your organization or within the organizations of people in your broader network, making these a great source of successful approaches you could reapply. Make an immediate commitment to connect with some leaders you admire in or outside your organization on this topic in the coming weeks, and agree to be a resource for each other going forward for inspirational stories, helpful tips, and best practices.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, or a personal story on succesful strategies you’ve used to save or re-energize great talent. Please comment below!
We look forward to continuing this conversation in Part 2.


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