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ComplianceMarch 21, 2022

What businesses can do about the “Great Resignation”

The news is full of headlines about workers quitting jobs, not returning to work, or starting their own businesses.

Why are people quitting their jobs? The pandemic has disrupted how and where we work. Some employees are tired and want a renewed sense of purpose, belonging, and connection with people. Others want better pay, benefits, and perks. Meanwhile, the entrepreneurial among us want to take control, strike out on their own, and put newfound skills to work.

As an employer, understanding what employees are running from can provide answers to stem the “Great Resignation” and help attract new talent.

Let’s look at the challenges your business may be facing and ways you can combat the Great Resignation.

Accept that work at home is here to stay

Working from home has become the new normal and a full return to the office is an unlikely scenario for many. Indeed, workers have proven that they are more productive at home and enjoy a better work/life balance. Work from home is now so popular that employees would rather quit than give up this perk.

Given this trend and the hope of an end to the pandemic, hybrid work arrangements are now becoming the norm. But many employers are struggling to define what this means and employing a one-size-fits-all approach may not work.

As you consider how your work-from-home policy can evolve, consider placing more structure around it. Give employees access to information and productivity tools that enable them to be autonomous while being engaged. Pair remote workers with mentors outside their department so that they can have frank discussions about their work and concerns. Many businesses have also had success with virtual coffee breaks or water cooler chats where teams can have informal meetups that don’t revolve around work.

Be more strategic with meetings

Meetings can consume our days, limit productivity, and increase stress. Research shows that hybrid employees who spend more time in meetings with their peers are nearly one and a half times more likely to be emotionally drained from their work. More alarmingly, 40% of hybrid or remote employees report an increase in the length of their workday in the past year — creating more fatigue and burnout.

What can you do? Consider limiting meetings to collaboration, brainstorming, or hands-on work sessions. Anything that isn’t a pressing matter or is a one-way presentation (such as business updates) can be saved for another time or format. In addition, limit the invitee list to those who are expected to actively contribute. Even if actions items are required of those not present, share a recording or provide them with an update offline.

Support professional development

The prospect of upward mobility is a big factor in retention. A Harvard Business School survey found that 62% of workers agree that professional development — including skills training and credentialing — matters. But don’t limit training to the classroom or online courses. Invest in mentoring and career pathways that give workers a clear sense of what’s needed to progress their careers. Set clear milestones and establish resources and support that can help them get where they want to go.

Hands-on professional development — where you expose employees to new projects or stretch them beyond their job description — can also help. But beware of job scope creep and simply adding to their workloads.

Have an authentic organizational purpose

Research by McKinsey reveals that 70% of people define their purpose through work. This is particularly true of millennials, who are more likely to see work as their life calling.

When you help your employees find their life purpose at work, they are more likely to stay, do better, and contribute to the success of your business.

How do you develop and share an authentic organizational purpose? Consider the role your company plays in society and today’s tumultuous and fast-changing world. More than making contributions to your community and causes, think about the impact of your company’s mission, actions, and brand and spend time reflecting on that with your employees.

Money is still important

One of the driving forces of the Great Resignation is money. With talent in demand, employees are quitting their jobs and seeking out new opportunities that offer them hiring bonuses and a pay raise, rather than staying where they are, doing the same job for less.

Rather than eroding your bottom line, offering a compelling salary can pay dividends. If you can lure and retain talented employees, they can have a significant and positive impact on the future of your business.

Take workplace culture seriously

Workplace culture is critical to stemming the tide of the Great Resignation. If your work environment is pleasant, it can have a direct influence on how employees fit in and your ability to attract new hires.

Indeed, experts argue that a positive workplace culture is a major competitive advantage. James L. Heskett, the UPS Foundation Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, argues that an effective organizational culture allows for higher employee and customer engagement and loyalty, all of which translate into greater growth and profits.

With the right culture in place, your company can take itself anywhere. After all, it’s easier to change a strategy than it is to change a culture.


Today’s workforce wants more from their employers. They want flexibility, competitive pay and benefits, a positive workplace environment, and development opportunities. During the Great Resignation, it’s up to your business to determine how it will meet these shifting expectations.

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