Why The Great Resignation is Only Just Getting Started

Sep 01 2022 | Insights

The Great Resignation is nothing new, in fact, it's just getting worse! This article explores why companies must take preventative measures to not run the risk of seeing higher than ever staff turnover rates.

After 18 months of panic surrounding the pandemic, businesses across North America have found that the Great Resignation is one of the biggest threats to their companies. April saw a 20-year high as four million people quit their jobs, only for the figure to be surpassed in the following two months.

While many business leaders hoped it would be little more than a short-term post-lockdown reaction, the evidence points towards even faster acceleration and a Great Resignation that spills over into the new year and potentially beyond.

Why the Great Resignation is growing

A large percentage of resignations in the last year can be attributed to pandemic relief, student loan forgiveness, and other features that have put people – particularly younger individuals and low-income employees – in a stronger position. The reality is that the main reason for people leaving is quite simple: they feel unhappy and unappreciated.

Antony Klotz, Associate Professor, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, said that changing work landscapes caused by the pandemic have created a situation where “a lot of people now realise, ‘I’m more than just my job.”. Still, millions have aspirations of changing jobs at the first convenient opportunity, which will see ‘quits’ continue to rise for the foreseeable.

Employees are quickly finding themselves in a stronger position as demand soars, with 94% of US retailers struggling to fill positions, with studies showing that one in three people would rather quit and find a new remote job than return to the office. 

In short, employee mindsets have changed forever, with experts referring to this moment as the Great Awakening rather than the Great Resignation. Until employers sit up and take note, the Great Resignation will persist.

So why should companies care?

The threat of people quitting is set to circle overhead for a long time to come, and leaders must attempt to mitigate how this impacts their business. For starters, the average cost of filling a vacancy stands at over $4,000. With a sales lull across most industries, firms cannot afford to be incurring these high costs. 

On top of this, companies need to consider the investment of time spent and money needed for onboarding, staff training and other related tasks. Meanwhile, the company culture will be severely hindered as you’ll lose access to knowledge and experience, with colleague bonds weakening as a result. The productivity and quality of client interactions can also take a turn for the worse.

Low staff turnover rate, during the Great Resignation, shows a company that is backed by a winning workforce. For the sake of immediate finances, the quality of the working environment, and the brand’s reputation, preventing the loss of talent should be a priority.

Considerations for all leaders handling the Great Resignation

If a lack of satisfaction and value are the main reasons behind employees quitting, the solution is simple: keep them happier. As Richard Branson famously said, businesses should “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.”

Consideration 1: Flexible working

Most employees would rather stay at a company for many years as it avoids the hassle of relocating or settling into a new company culture. That said, they also need an incentive to stay. Post pandemic means employees demand a better work-life balance. If possible, consider providing flexible work schedules or allowing flexible work-from-home strategies to retain your workforce.

Consideration 2: Appreciate your employees’ commitments

Take time to actually communicate with your employees to see what support they feel is needed. FamilyFirst, as per Forbes, found that 72% of family caregivers felt that their employers could be more understanding and provide better help. A commitment to appreciating an employee’s human characteristics and responsibilities outside of the workplace can change the mindset and company culture forever.

Consideration 3: Show value and provide a purpose

When employees feel valued by their employers, their relationship with their job is two-fold. With only 15% of people engaged at work, it is critical to provide them with a purpose in their roles.

Thinking beyond these immediate challenges is equally crucial. Incorporating coaching at work can give employees space to think through their challenges and work on their goals to help them remain motivated for years to come. 

Creating an employee-centric work environment will keep ‘quits’ to a minimum, ensuring stability in what is perhaps the most difficult era in living memory. For startups and SMEs to global organisations, ignoring the talent drain is simply not an option.

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