Why The Great Resignation is Only Just Getting Started

Sep 01 2022 | Insights

The Great Resignation is nothing new and is something businesses have been fighting throughout the pandemic. If anything, the situation is actually getting worse! Companies must take control of the situation right away - or run the risk of seeing higher than ever staff turnover rates.

It’s quitting season! 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 spike  in the following two months.

While many business leaders hoped it would be little more than a short-term post-lockdown slump, evidence shows that the Great Resignation is gaining speed, potentially spilling over into the new year and beyond.

Why the Great Resignation is growing

Why do people resign? Well, many of last year’s resignations can be attributed to pandemic relief, student loan forgiveness, and other features that have put people - especially young and low-income employees - in a stronger position. Realistically the main reason people leave is 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 realize, ‘I’m more than just my job.” Still millions aspire to change jobs at the first convenient opportunity, which will see ‘quits’ continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

Employees now have the upper hand as labour demands soar. 94% of US retailers are struggling to fill positions, and studies show that one-in-three people would rather quit and find a new remote job than return to the office. 

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 will loom over us for a long time to come. As a leader, it’s important to examine how all these departures can impact 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 incur these high costs. 

On top of this, companies need to consider time and financial investments for onboarding, training, and other tasks. Meanwhile, your company culture will suffer, as you’ll lose access to knowledge and experience. Colleague bonds will weaken as a result and you’ll see less  productivity and quality of client interactions taking a turn for the worse.

Okay, so what about the companies with staff who stuck around? If you saw a low staff turnover rate during the Great Resignation, congratulations! This shows a company that is backed by a winning workforce.

Considerations for all leaders handling the Great Resignation

If lack of satisfaction and value are the main reasons behind employees quitting, the solution is simple: keep your employees 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 to avoid 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 allow 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 need. FamilyFirst, as per Forbes, found that 72% of family caregivers felt their employers could be more understanding and provide better help. Being committed to appreciating an employee’s human characteristics and responsibilities outside of work and you’ll see a permanent mindset and company culture shift. 

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, employees need to feel they have purpose in their roles. 

You should be looking beyond face-value challenges. Incorporating coaching at work gives employees space to think through their struggles 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. Making sure your working environment is stable will give you the edge in what is perhaps the most difficult era in living memory. From startups and SMEs to global organizations, ignoring the talent drain is simply not an option.

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