Turning the Tide on the Great Resignation

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2021 was a year to remember as The Great Resignation routinely made headlines as record numbers of employees quit their jobs. This pandemic-driven phenomenon is largely attributed to people re-evaluating priorities and re-thinking how and where they work. This assumption is further developed as results of a recent survey by Gartner show that 65% of employees pondered the place work should have in their lives amid the pandemic.

Unfortunately, the high level of resignations that is driving a more volatile labor market is predicted to continue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.3 million workers left their jobs in December 2021, and 73% of currently employed workers say they are actively thinking about quitting their jobs, according to Joblist. The number of Americans quitting has now exceeded pre-pandemic highs for eight straight months, according to Statista.

If companies, large and small, fail to find a solution, turnover and company growth will continue their decline. It is vital to address this problem and find ways to increase retention, loyalty, and engagement among employees. The only way to retain employees is to adapt and evolve as The Great Resignation continues.

What is the solution? Take an employee-centric approach that includes strengthening the relationship of managers with their direct reports, embracing flexibility, expanding company wellness policies and offering professional growth opportunities.

Related: As Resignations Soar, Businesses Must Put in Effort to Retain Talent

Strengthening manager/direct report relationships

Having a group of great managers will encourage loyalty to the company. According to Gallup, great managers reduce turnover more effectively than any other role in an organization, finding that it takes a pay increase of around 20% to lure most employees away from managers who engage them.

In the midst of The Great Resignation, managers and employees should communicate in a consistent manner. This can help to strengthen their relationships. It is important to communicate with employees in a once-a week touch-base meeting or informal “coffee chats” so that they can catch up on their work and discuss any issues. This will help develop relationships and improve the ability to manage goals and outcomes. In today’s remote and hybrid working paradigms, managing at a close level and paying attention keeps employees engaged and builds trust. This encourages employees to communicate openly with their managers and allows for discussion and feedback in real time.

Employees today want to feel that their work matters. Disengagement can lead to employees leaving the company and joining The Great Resignation. To avoid this, clearly communicate the company’s mission and where employees fit in to make that mission happen.

Related: How to Keep Your Most Valued Employees During ‘The Great Resignation’

Embracing flexibility

To stem The Great Resignation, listen carefully to your employees. A survey by Ernst & Young found that nine in 10 employees continue to demand flexibility from their jobs, and 54% of employees are considering leaving their job if they’re not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work. In 2022, adapt working models to support hybrid or fully remote work to keep employees happy.

Think about the structure of work the same way your employees think about it. Employees want work to be integrated into their lives.

The old hierarchical 9-5 office hours just don’t work anymore. This is especially true for women working in the workforce. Many parents, especially mothers, left the workforce during the pandemic. Schools and daycares were closed and quarantines were put in place. This allowed them to take care of their children and home. Between March and April 2021, approximately 3.5 million mothers living with school-age children left active work — “either shifting into paid or unpaid leave, losing their job, or exiting the labor market all together,” according to data from the census bureau.

To remain in the workforce, many women need the flexibility to work from home. According to a FlexJobs survey, 80% of women feel remote-work options are among the most important factors to consider when evaluating a new job.

Employees today expect flexible work arrangements to help them achieve work-life balance. Flexible working hours and time off are essential to allow employees to take care of their families while still achieving that balance. Providing a level of autonomy on where and when work gets done avoids burning out employees, boosts employee satisfaction and productivity and improves outcomes. If this flexibility is not provided, turnover in the company will continue its rise.

Expanding company wellness policies

As survey results show 48% of employees report that employers don’t prioritize their well-being, embedding employee wellbeing into company culture is a priority. A survey by Paychex shows that less than half of respondents (48%) reported that their employer prioritizes their well-being.

This could include implementing new-parent policies like paid parental leave for women, men and adoptive parents, on-site lactation rooms and a return-to-work program. Promoting healthy snacking options, offering physical fitness programs, providing access to a third-party behavioral health service and offering access to employee assistance programs are also excellent ways to promote employee well-being.

Financial wellness is another area in which companies can support employee well-being. The survey by Paychex found that nearly one-third of employees identified financial wellness as a component they’re struggling with most. Employee stress can be reduced by providing financial education. This will help to increase employee loyalty. Personal healthcare advisors reviewing employee medical bills have been proven to be a great tool in reducing stress among employees. This helps to build a solid foundation for personal finances and reduces the risk of unexpected medical bills.

Related: Innovative Strategies to Achieve Workplace Wellness

Offering career growth opportunities

Employees want career growth opportunities. They will leave if they don’t find it in their employer. Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that among employee respondents planning to seek new employment post-pandemic, 80% said they are concerned about their career growth.

This finding highlights the importance of investing to support employee growth and development. Programs such as educational group training across all levels, personalized employee developmental opportunities and career development coaching and planning can support employee development and provide the training and opportunities for advancement employees want.

The Covid-19 pandemic fundamentally changed how employees view their work-life balance. This shift is driving The Great Resignation, and making it imperative for employers that they transform the employee experience. Take an employee-centric approach that focuses on strengthening the relationship of managers with their direct reports, embracing flexibility, expanding company wellness policies and offering professional growth opportunities have an opportunity to turn the tide on The Great Resignation.

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