How can employers confront The Great Resignation? - Technical.ly

Company Culture

How can employers confront The Great Resignation?

After a particularly chaotic year, two in five professionals report planning to leave their jobs. Technical.ly's Culture Builder newsletter explores how getting a plan might make them think twice.

If some churn is welcome, too much is a genuine threat.

(Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash)

Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink, Technical.ly’s new Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces. Below is the latest edition we published. Sign up here to get the next one this Friday.


Nobody jumps out of the boat during the storm.

Conventional wisdom follows that for job-hopping during massive societal disruption. If 2020 was one of the most chaotic years in generations, then it figures workers might bide their time.

Enter The Great Resignation, which brings the threat that two in five professionals are projected to leave en masse their current employers as some semblance of normalcy returns. Others put the number even higher. Mid-career and manager-level departures are growing fastest. (Management professor Anthony Klotz popularized the term.)

Several factors go into the prediction, from workers who had delayed quitting to wage inflation to employee burnout. Other employees had an awakening last year about their company — losing faith in how leadership responded to the intertwined crises of the year.

On the whole, economists like a degree of worker churn, as that shows confidence in an economic rebound. Quits, which are commonly voluntary separations initiated by the employee, are surging at historic levels.

In May 2021, 3.6 million people quit, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week. That’s just slightly below the 4 million who quit in April 2021, the highest recorded quit rate since the BLS began counting that in 2000. Are you already confronting this? What are you doing? Email chris@technical.ly and let me know for future reporting.

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If some churn is welcome, too much is a genuine threat. What are founders and HR pros to do? The key is to identify and routinely reevaluate who on your team is most important and most at-risk of leaving. (This makes a helpful two-by-two quadrant, by the way.)

Do the salary analysis to preemptively avoid crucial losses, especially for the most coveted tech workers who have an increasing array of remote options. Believe it or not, though, not everyone is leaving for compensation alone. Think seriously about your existing efforts for employee engagement. Empower managers to have weekly one-on-ones with their reports that include thorough and honest conversations. Ensure your team knows what they’re working toward and what their future is with your company. Increase transparency to your all-hands meetings and understand employee needs — because they can vary.

In February, the Engagement and Retention Report from Achievers Workforce Institute, a research division of the Canadian HR tech company Achievers, included a survey of 2,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada. Though a third planned to leave their companies for higher compensation, two-thirds cited other reasons that essentially make up what we call company culture. A quarter sought better work-life balance, nearly one in five sought greater recognition for their work and fully 15% cited values and relationships.

I personally believe in the importance of retaining a strong core of teammates for the long term, while welcoming a degree of employee churn to allow your organization to evolve. Some of that natural churn was delayed by the storm. Without a plan, more bad weather may be coming.

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