The Great Resignation: How to Prepare Your Team and Keep Retention Rates High
August 6, 2021
The Great Resignation

Workers are starting to return to the office; however, not all employees are glad to be back. In April of 2020, employees were concerned about mass layoffs. In April of 2021, a record 4 million people quit their jobs according to this article published by NPR. Now, businesses are the ones who are worried. Under normal circumstances, employees taking their careers into their own hands and switching jobs is not uncommon nor unexpected. However, we are not living under normal circumstances due to the persisting COVID-19 pandemic.

This mass migration of workers is being dubbed as the Great Resignation, and it’s causing labor shortages in a variety of industries across multiple levels of employees. As employees continue to leave their jobs, human resources professionals are now faced with a much different issue than what they were faced with this time last year. To combat the Great Resignation and keep your employee retention rates high, there are a few things your team should consider.

Why are employees resigning?

If you have not experienced this labor issue quite yet, it may be difficult to understand why it began. For your team to prepare, it’s important to understand why the issue exists in the first place.

the great resignation

Employees’ priorities have shifted

Prior to the pandemic, employees expected to have to commute to and from work and understood what it entailed to go into the office every day. This way of working was the norm for the majority of the workforce and felt like a requirement. Now, after many of us have worked from home for over a year, many have had the time to think and reevaluate what matters most to them. For many, work proved not to be their top priority in comparison with what they received while working from home. Many employees felt that they were experiencing a higher quality of life working remotely because it allowed for:

  • Less personal time and funds spent commuting
  • More time spent with family
  • The ability to travel and work remotely from new locations
  • The opportunity to work for companies outside of their geographic location

Today, employees want to work for companies whose values align with their own. When companies asked that employees make the trip back to the office, some felt that their values and priorities were being pushed to the wayside. In fact, this article by HR Executive notes that 65% of employees would prefer to work remotely full-time and 58% said they would look for a new job if they were not allowed to continue working remotely.

With statistics such as the ones mentioned above, it should not be too surprising that the Great Resignation began.

How to combat the Great Resignation

Different employees may consider resigning for different reasons; however, you do not want to remain stagnant and wait for the issue to arise at your company. You cannot predict which employees will consider resigning or for what reasons, but you can be proactive about the situation and try to account for some of the more likely factors.

Consider putting hybrid or in-office work up to a vote

the great resignation

If your company can operate effectively with employees working remotely or on a hybrid work schedule, consider allowing your team to choose how they would like to proceed. This option can seem risky because you may have no concept of where each of your team members is at. If you’re going to allow your team to vote on the subject, we recommend prefacing the conversation with the idea that management will make the ultimate decision.

Putting it to a vote allows for your team to gather insight on what your employees want while also providing each of your employees with equal choice and equal say. If you preface the conversation correctly, your team will still hold the power. However, it is important in this situation to seriously listen to your employees. Be prepared to not like their answers and have a plan ready for either option.

Prioritize employee satisfaction and well-being

As mentioned above, one of the major factors in employees choosing to resign is because their values are shifting. Whether they want to devote more time to their family or more time to themselves, being supportive of these measures matters.

As Samantha McLaren mentioned in this LinkedIn article, employee well-being was placed front and center at the beginning of the pandemic. Conversations of burnout and Zoom fatigue were common and being taken seriously. While many employees have gotten used to remote work and its many challenges, those same issues still exist. Even employees who have set strict rules to establish work-life balances at home may find themselves working extra hours from time to time.

McLaren also notes how some major companies, including LinkedIn, have even begun company-wide shutdowns to force employees to take time off and relax. While not every company can afford to shut down in that manner, it can be beneficial to offer employees more paid time off or shutting down for a day every so often. Measures like these can help avoid resignations caused by burnout or stress.

Reevaluate what you can offer employees

The bottom line is: if you want employees to stay, consider what reasons you’ve given them to want to stay. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but sometimes it is. Ultimately, you should want your company to be offering value to its employees, which can include:

If you need more ideas of what your employees may want, ask them. Communication can go a long way toward increasing employee satisfaction. If you truly want to know what your employees want in order to keep them at your company, conduct employee surveys and interviews. Gather as much information as you can and formulate a plan that will keep your employees satisfied without putting the company into bankruptcy. When it’s all said and done, both parties should be happy.

the great resignation

We thought 2020 was going to be the only year of unprecedented occurrences, but it does not look like we’re done. As 2021 progresses, new challenges continue to arise. The Great Resignation is only another challenge that needs solving. Hopefully, it is not one you need to face, but if it is, we hope the advice laid out in this article helps.

Good luck and continue to check in frequently to BrandResumes’ HR Corner for new articles.


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By Emily Provost

Emily is BrandResumes' Content Specialist and is an Associate Resume Writer. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Publishing Studies with double minors in Marketing and Journalism from Hofstra University. She has had editorial experience working as an editor for various publications from Hofstra and worked as a writing tutor for undergraduate students.

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