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How to Lead Through the Great Resignation

The job-quitting numbers are frightening.

A whopping 65% of employees said they are looking for a new job, according to PwC’s Pulse survey, conducted Aug. 2-6, of 1,007 employees and 752 executives in the U.S.

After 18 months of the pandemic, we’re entering into what news outlets are calling “The Great Resignation.”

From a recent Inc. magazine article on the Great Resignation:

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, during the months of April, May, and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. Recent studies indicate that it’s likely not over. A survey of over 30,000 workers conducted by Microsoft found that 41 percent are considering quitting; that number jumps to 54 percent when Gen-Z is considered alone. Gallup found that 48 percent of employees are actively searching for new opportunities. And Persio reported that 38 percent of those they surveyed planned to make a change in the next six months.”

Most Americans (55 percent) who are either employed or looking for a job — what economists would describe as being in the workforce — say they are likely to look for new employment in the next 12 months, according to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey. Even more surprising, some 28 percent of working Americans who currently say they’re not looking for a new job are still expecting to search for a different position at some point in the next year.

What is going on here?

When you read the various articles in the business press, a number of causes are outlined. Burnout. Post-pandemic expectation shifts. Safety and security. Work flexibility. Plenty of fresh job openings. The past 18 months radically reset how many of us think and feel about our work, and how we go about it.

Whatever the particular reasons may be in a given case, talent acquisition and retention are a very big deal in a huge range of industries.

It would be too simplistic to point to one cause, or one cure, but let’s boil down the big picture to this main idea: The war for talent will be won on the field of employee engagement.

The Gallup organization has been talking about the costly problem of employee disengagement for years. With more remote and hybrid work arrangements being in place for the foreseeable future, the need for an effective employee engagement strategy continues to grow.

There’s no magic wand – it would be malpractice to say there’s a secret potion to create more engaged team members. But there are several very tangible practices a leader can put in place to make the workplace a desirable destination in a sea of dissatisfaction and disruption.

The Great Resignation can become, for many companies, the Great Opportunity – a chance to put in place frameworks to boost engagement and retention. Let’s take on that challenge pro-actively!

Steve Woodruff conducts personal and team clarity sessions, and facilitates virtual and live workshops for learning how to apply the Clarity Formula to your professional life. He is the author of the book Clarity Wins. Contact Steve here.

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