7 Tips for Navigating the Great Resignation

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the “Great Resignation” or even experienced it firsthand. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined by Anthony Klotz, a management professor in London who predicted there would be a trend in large amounts of employees voluntarily resigning from their jobs for a variety of reasons. This has played out as Klotz predicted. I could bore you with stats about quit rates and percentages of employees looking for a new job, but the fact is, the Great Resignation is real and continues to happen.

As leaders and managers, it’s easy to get discouraged when we experience employee resignations, but there are steps we can take to help. Here are several suggestions for navigating this tumultuous time in the labor market:

  1. Truly want what’s best for people and their families – Even if this means they no longer work for your organization, this mindset is at the heart of being a respected servant leader. It will help build a team around you that appreciates the care and concern you have for their personal well-being, and, in turn, they will want to stay with your organization
  2. Connect with your people regularly – We have all been impacted by COVID-19 and other social and economic issues over the last couple of years. People may be reconsidering their positions in life (and at work) based on these circumstances. If you are not regularly talking with your team about this, chances are someone else is.
  3. Determine what models for work will be successful for you and which ones won’t – This may seem obvious, but how work gets done varies a lot by industry. Some roles could be adapted to allow you to retain staff that you may have lost by always requiring them to be in the office five days a week. At Interstates, we often say you need to find out what’s ‘the best place for your people to do their best work.’
  4. Understand that remote and hybrid remote (some days in the office and some remote) have become commonplace – Based on where you land with #3, you need to understand that some work has been changed, potentially forever. There are some jobs that can and are being done fully remote. You need to understand how this matches up with your model or risk frustrating your people and opening them up to the competition.
  5. Realize that the labor market and employment world are shrinking – The pandemic and subsequent remote work, along with media sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, make it easy for employees to seek out new job opportunities and understand what your company is really like. Companies from traditional metropolitan areas are recruiting in rural areas to expand their talent pools. If you are not engaged with these sites, know that your people likely are, and you’re missing an opportunity. Also, the workforce itself is literally shrinking as baby boomers retire, and there are not enough people to replace them. Competition for people is fierce.
  6. Be aware of cultural impacts within your company – Once you figure out the models that will work well for you and your business, you need to understand how your people and leaders will react. Different people will have different opinions about the models you’ve set up. Engage in conversations with your people and leaders to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
  7. Equip your leaders to lead people in different settings – Leading remote and hybrid remote teams takes intentionality but may not be as different as you think. Last year, our CIO, Mike Meyers wrote an article about this titled Leading Remote Workers: Is It Really Any Different?”. Assuming leaders and managers understand how to lead in remote and hybrid teams because they can lead in person is dangerous. Leaders need to adapt.

It’s hard to say how long the Great Resignation will continue. To whatever degree you’ve experienced this phenomenon, I believe the last couple of years have fundamentally and permanently shifted how we view work. Organizations and leaders need to recognize this and adapt to meet the needs of their people so their businesses can stay relevant.

Daren Dieleman, Vice President of Operations