The Great Resignation Is Coming – Here’s How to Prepare

November 1, 2021
The Culture Equation
The Great Resignation Is Coming – Here’s How to Prepare

The Great Resignation is coming, and Employers should be 100% prepared. This read will shed light on what you can do as a Founder, Head of P&C, or a business leader of any role to continue to thrive in the midst of the coming wave of resignations.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused employees across various industry sectors to reevaluate their roles. Whether due to new priorities, burnout, or a lack of fulfilment, the global workforce has been resigning in droves. According to recent research, 95% of employees in the US said that they were considering leaving their jobs. That’s quite alarming. In Australia, data shows that 40% said they were going to look for a new job within the next six months.

Of course, the idea of mass resignation will inevitably set off alarm bells in the minds of employers. So, it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst. It’s already been a rough financial year for many companies, making the need for a safety net all the more palpable.

What is the Great Resignation?

The so-called Great Resignation is a term that was first coined in the US. Initially, it referred specifically to the millions of Americans leaving their jobs post-pandemic. But, since that first shockwave of resignations across the Pacific, more countries have experienced its ripple effect. In other words, the Great Resignation has gone from an American phenomenon to a global one.

As Australians readjust to life after the most recent lockdowns, it is widely believed that The Great Resignation will come to our shores soon. And, to an extent, it’s understandable. Seismic shifts in people’s personal lives like a messy divorce or having a baby often make people want to leave. Since the coronavirus outbreak brought about sudden change on such an immense scale, this period of reevaluation makes sense.

The Impact of The Great Resignation On Business

The fact that it makes sense won’t make the oncoming Great Resignation any easier on employers. The country is already dealing with a variety of employment challenges. According to the Australian government, 52% of surveyed employers said they were experiencing difficulty in recruitment and yet, 23% said they expect to increase their hiring. made clear by the latest finds of 52% At the same time, many companies are still trying to pick themselves back up and regroup in the wake of restrictions. The loss of the best talent can impact just about any business, we’ve all probably noticed how our local cafe can’t re-open for sit-down service due to a lack of staff. Multiply this very real shortage of pretty much every kind of worker and you can see the very real impact across every industry.

Thankfully, there are things you can do if you find yourself scrambling to retain your workforce and your best talent. And, ultimately, it all comes down to one secret ingredient: company culture. After all, if the culture in your office leads to misalignment, low engagement, inflexibility, poor communication, and undervalued employees, how can you expect people to stay?

6 Ways to Defend Your Business Against the Great Resignation

The following tips will help you improve your company’s culture specifically in the service of retaining existing talent. While they might not prevent every individual from giving notice, they should help to mitigate the worst of the problem.

#1 Offer Flexibility

During Covid-19, chances are your company had to adapt to new ways of working. If it did, your people will have seen just how flexible the business can be. If not, they will surely have heard all about the recent mainstreaming of working from home. Either way, they’ll know that an alternative is possible.

As such, it’s important to continue offering flexibility by maintaining a “remote first” approach whilst having the option of a hybrid work model. By offering your teams the opportunity to fully work from home or in part, you minimise the chances of them leaving you due to lack of flexibility as an employer. Demonstrating that the business is accommodating, empathetic and understanding will always goes a long way.

#2 Work With Your Managers

Did you know that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement? In other words, if your managers aren’t coached and set up for success, your employees are far less likely to have their heads in the game. So, don’t focus all your energy on the employees. To keep valued staff in the company long-term, you’ll need to work with the bosses and senior leaders, too.

At the end of the day, it is managers who set the tone for the workplace culture. If they’re quick to micro-manage, rarely listen to feedback, or otherwise struggle to lead effectively, then people will be less inclined to stay. In that case, a deep look at your Leadership Principles to a renewed alignment and cohesion across your leadership layer could be in order.

#3 Prioritise Diversity

Diversity is important, not least because it entails giving a voice to a wider variety of people. The benefits of this will be felt at all levels. For one thing, those that have become accustomed to having to fight their way through will feel deservedly appreciated. For another, productivity and ROI will increase exponentially.

A diverse office values all perspectives and ideas. It stands to reason that, if an employee feels valued, they’ll be happier in their role. So, double down on initiatives that bubble up diverse perspectives if you want to keep your workforce onboard.

#4 Improve Communication

Poor communication and a lack of transparency do not lend themselves to productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. As such, communication at work is of the utmost importance.

If a manager is ineffective at communicating new initiatives to their team, the logical outcome is understandably frustration. Change without context is often cited as one of the biggest causes of burnout. Improving contextualisation, visioning and storytelling is a key skill needed to defend against this core reason for exiting employees.

#5 Invest In Recruitment

Regardless of how successful your employee retention endeavours are, there’s still a chance you’ll see an increase in resignation letters. So, as well as working to keep existing employees, look into ways of improving your recruitment efforts.

You could start with small things, like updating job descriptions to better align with your ideal candidates. Make sure to mention your workplace’s emphasis on things like flexibility, diversity, and overall culture. Then, get a bit creative with the recruitment process. Reach out to people on social media, for example, and host virtual open days to show them what you’re all about.

#6 Focus On Employee Engagement

“Your number one customer is your people. Look after employees first and then customers last.” – Ian Hutchinson, Author of People Glue

Employee engagement is one of the best ways to keep employees invested in your startup and avoid the risk of resignations. Engagement is all about improving your workplace and culture to encourage employees to feel more connected to your company and its mission. At its core, employee engagement is about providing your employees with a trusted feedback loop. Collectively hearing and acting on their advice before it hits Glassdoor.

To improve employee engagement, you need to create an atmosphere and working culture that respects your employees’ needs. Formal and informal communication is one important factor – your employees need to feel comfortable talking to you about their wants, needs, goals, and issues, and they need to feel that you’ll respect and address what they have to say. 

Another way of boosting employee engagement is to reward employees who show the most engagement. This can range from simply giving recognition to hard-working or highly productive employees to providing bonuses or perks to those who go the extra mile. Giving tangible rewards for engagement makes employees want to engage more, helping them to stay invested in their work.

The Great Resignation & Company Culture

If your employees are already considering leaving, it’s up to you to give them reasons to stick around. Let’s face it: a culture in which few feel valued and communication falters is hardly an advertisement for staying put.

So be proactive – even small changes can make a big difference if you take the right approach. While you can’t control external factors like the COVID pandemic that have led to the Great Resignation, proactively working to keep your employees engaged and invested in your company can help to stave off its worst effects.