Answering your questions about the Great Resignation

What is the Great Resignation?

According to a McKinsey study, 40% of surveyed employees (across Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the USA) are at least somewhat likely to resign in the next 3 to 6 months. This attrition is occurring across all industries, from education to trades to white-collar jobs. In fact, 42% of healthcare workers in the USA quit without already having a job lined up. This is what HR professionals have been calling the Great Resignation or Great Attrition.

What are the causes of the Great Resignation?

Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are more widely distributed, many offices are considering a return to the workplace. But, having had time at home to work remotely, many employees have had ample time to consider the culture of their workplace and what that means to them.

Many employers believe that by increasing compensation, their employees will be willing to hang around. However, the reasons that employees are resigning is mostly not because of transactional reasons, like remuneration. In fact, employees are predominantly resigning due to relational issues; lacking a sense of belonging and value. 

Instead of better pay or perks (although they are also attractive), employees want strong career trajectories, development, and to feel like they belong and are valued, especially by their teammates and management.

How to avoid the Great Resignation

Now that we know what the Great Resignation is and why it’s happening, let’s dive into some practical ways to avoid it in your organisation. 

Unbundling work from the job 

When employees feel like their skills aren’t being used in their job, they start looking for jobs where their skills will be used. This new job is unlikely to be in their current organisation, because the job doesn’t exist, or there’s no pathway to the job they want.

So, how to avoid employees searching for new jobs elsewhere? Uncouple the job from the skills. 

The rallying cry of a resigning employee is often that the role was holding them back, or they wanted something more challenging. Divide jobs or positions into smaller pieces and allow employees to take on work in chunks. Small challenges that can cover multiple positions or departments allow employees to unlock their full potential. 

When they have the ability to work in cross-functional teams and expand their skill set, employees will be able to access more challenging tasks. Their job won’t be able to hold them back, because the work has been uncoupled from the position they hold.

Soon enough, these will be valued, ready employees, who are valued for their skills, not just for the job they do.

Agile performance management

We’ve already written at length about the problems with traditional performance management. The yearly appraisal can’t capture short term goals, manage problems effectively, or support employees as they learn and grow. 

When employees leave an organisation, it’s likely because they can’t see a future within the organisation. Career trajectories are weak or nonexistent, they’re not being developed effectively, and they don’t feel like part of a larger culture.

Agile performance management is all about regularly keeping in touch with your employees and knowing exactly what they need. When you question where your people see themselves in the future, you have the ability to plan and strategise for that outcome.

Managers can set goals for their employees and draw tangible connections between their learning, the goals they want to achieve, and their ideal role in the organisation.  

Regularly catching up with employees is not only important to setting goals, but in making employees feel valued and part of the greater system. When managers take the time to listen to their employees, they have the opportunity to make positive changes in their employees’ experience.

Mentoring and leadership

When employees learn and grow, it’s important that their knowledge is valued and invested back into the organisation. Setting up a mentorship program allows employees to coach those who aspire to their position. Employees can share their knowledge and create a culture of learning. 

When an employee mentions to their manager in a regular catchup that they’d like to move into a new position in the future, their manager can set up correspondence with a mentor with experience in that position. This can be coupled with formal training to be undertaken on their LMS, or they can reach out to others on their LXP to gain more insight asynchronously.

This has the double benefit of giving junior and mid level employees the ability to visualise a future with the organisation, and giving senior employees the feeling of giving back and contributing to the organisation’s culture. As Dianna Anderson puts it, instead of asking, “What’s wrong?” we can begin to ask “What’s possible?”

Start exploring what’s possible today

Beat the Great Resignation with learning, agile performance management, and engaged employees. Talk to a friendly Androgogue about Totara: Androgogic Edition today.