Four million workers in the U.S. quit their jobs in April.
Employees are quitting their jobs in search of something better. Maybe that’s a good thing for some. The pandemic has shaken up the world so much it’s a perfect opportunity to also shake up their careers’.
On the other hand, how can companies respond and keep their top talent?
This article will dive into five ways employers can keep their top talent amidst The Great Resignation. We’ll also talk to individuals who were part of The Great Resignation to get insight into why they left their jobs and what they found. But first, let’s look at the reasons people quit their jobs and the reasons they stay.
Why People Quit Their Jobs
There are many reasons people quit their jobs. Here are the top four.
Lack Of Growth Opportunities
Employees will look elsewhere for opportunities when they don’t see promotions or career growth happening for them at their current job. Research supports this with studies showing that 50 percent of employees thought a lack of growth was a good reason to leave a company. The opposite is also true. Companies with a learning culture have higher retention rates. People want to work at companies that value learning - this isn’t much of a surprise.
Nicole Kahansky, a content marketing manager at Hypercontext felt she was part of The Great Recognition when she transitioned careers during the pandemic. She explains:
“When COVID hit and we were all stuck at home, I finally had the time to take a step back and re-evaluate if I was happy in my current career. At the time I was working in PR and had been thinking about making a change for a while. Being stuck in lockdown with lots of downtime on my hands gave me the push to start exploring other careers options. I knew I wanted to find a career that allowed me to build on the skills I already had from PR, but with more of a measurable impact and more freedom to be creative. Plus, great management and positive culture were non-negotiables. That's how I ultimately ended up in my current role”
This one is pretty predictable. There is only so much unhappiness at work that someone can endure. The burden of working for a bad boss is one of the biggest reasons employees look for work elsewhere. What defines a bad boss? Usually, one that is demanding does not acknowledge the effort or hard work of others and who is too critical.
How people feel about the culture and the collegues they see every day impacts their willingness to stay with the company. Culture is made up of the atmosphere at the office, co-workers, and the explicit and implicit expectations.
Rochi Zalani felt she was part of The Great Resignation. When explaining why she left her job during the pandemic she shared:
“I got a job in the first wave of the pandemic (June 2020) and left it in December 2020. Working those 6 months from home made me realize what kind of jobs I would enjoy, what people I'd like to work with, and my purpose.”
The pandemic was an opportunity for her to explore new roles and try working from home. The experience revealed what she liked and she used that to inform her job search. Like Rochi, the pandemic was an opportunity to explore new ways of working and workplace cultures.
One of the most significant changes that the pandemic has brought to the workplace is the need for flexibility. As home and work blended together, many employees enjoyed the work-life balance that working remotely offers. However, to make it work, the 9-to-5 mindset of companies needs to be adjusted.
Empowering employees to have more control over their work schedule can lead to higher engagement and lower turnover as long as productivity is not disrupted. For this reason, many companies are adopting a hybrid workplace model that captures the best of both in-office and remote work.
Reasons People Stay At Their Jobs
It may seem like everyone is jumping ship during The Great Resignation, but there are still employees who are happy where they are. Here are the top two reasons they stay.
Employees will stay at their job for as long as they feel satisfied with their work. What makes someone satisfied in a job is usually feeling like they make a difference for the company. We all want to be valued and having managers acknowledge the difference we make means a lot. Employers who make the effort to recognize the efforts of employees will keep them around longer.
Hiba Amin, the senior marketing manager at Hypercontext shares why she stayed with her company during The Great Resignation:
“The thing that holds me near and dear to this company is the people. We all hold ourselves to high standards and there are high-performers across the entire team. Beyond performance, everyone gets along. I think a big part of this is the focus on transparency. For example, we don’t have private department channels, everything is public, including all of our key metrics which we discuss every single week. We’re all aware of what’s expected of each team and individual and it helps keep us aligned and moving in the same direction.”
For Hiba, and those like her, it was the people and culture that led to growing roots in the company.
Opportunity for Growth
Just as people will leave a job if they don’t see room to grow, people will also stay at a company if they see a track that aligns with their goals. The growth they’re look for may include:
- Pay raises
- Training programs
- Access to career mentors
If employees can gain new skills and advance their careers within their current company, it makes more sense to stay than to go.
5 Ways Companies Can Retain Their Employees Amidst The Great Resignation
For starters, The Great Resignation isn’t for everyone. Many employees don’t want to quit per se but want to see change within their role instead. Here's how to keep your best and brightest.
1. Let them chart their own career path and build their role
This is an excellent opportunity to engage with employees, give them choices and chart a career path with them. Allowing employees to have agency in their role will make them invest where they are rather than looking elsewhere. Their engagement will improve as well.
2. Invest in their social ties within the company
Employees that have strong social connections within the organization are more engaged and inclined to stay. Getting staff to connect can keep them around longer. Activities like peer learning can strengthen company culture, create knowledge-sharing opportunities, and develop connections for remote employees.
Another way that social ties can improve retention is through preparing high potential employees for leadership roles. Letting these talented employees know that there is a chance of advancement and growth can motivate them.
Succession planning programs can cultivate the deep connections that help high potential employees succeed and stick around.
3. Invest in workplace wellbeing
There are hidden costs to trying to push employees too hard. Sick days, missed work, and illness can start to add up for employers. Moreover, employees who are too stressed at work will begin to look for an escape.
Joanna Rutter, founder of Tiny Megaphone left her job during the pandemic when she realized it wasn’t worth her mental health:
“I left my job at an agency and started a freelance consultancy for small business marketing. Honestly, the main reason I took the leap was my health. I was so stressed with my workload that I wasn't eating or sleeping properly and often worked until 1 or 2 in the morning. I wanted to put my energy into something that belonged to me and that would love me back. I knew quitting would cut my salary in half and mean a lot of hard work up front, but I wanted more freedom in my schedule. It's been worth it. For the first time in my 8-year career, I'm not already forming an exit strategy out of my current role. I am so much more at peace.”
Joanna isn’t alone in this. Nearly half of all turnover is attributed to workplace stress, according to an HBR article.
Workplaces that value wellbeing are in a better position to retain employees. It is evident in company culture. The takeaway for leaders is to invest in programs and policies that encourage employee development and wellbeing.
4. Give them the freedom to choose how they work
COVID has changed the face of work. Companies have had to pivot to remote workplaces in response to the global pandemic. It’s a change that will continue post-pandemic.
Employees have indicated in several studies that they want to continue to work remotely, at least some of the time, rather than return to the office. Companies will be able to hang on to employees by giving workers more freedom over their schedules.
5. Connect them with mentors
Mentoring is a life-changing and career-changing experience. The main benefit to organizations it that it both increases employee engagement and gives them the growth opportunities that will keep them in the company.
Introducing mentorship into an organization can also make mentors better leaders and communicators. From an employer perspective, having a workplace mentoring program reduces turnover rates, improves engagement and productivity, and promotes a diverse workforce.
Although the numbers are staggering, The Great Resignation does not mean companies will be losing all their talent. Instead, you can turn it into an opportunity to strengthen your company, hold on to your best and brightest, and attract high performers who are leaving their organization for something better.
By giving employees more control over their careers and schedules, investing in their wellbeing and social connections, and offering them growth opportunities, such as mentorships, you’ll be able to build a powerful team to lead you into the future.