Opinion: The ‘Great Resignation’ — what would make employees stay?
Workers are leaving their jobs in droves and employers are struggling to find replacements. How can employers make their company the place where people stay?
From the perspective of employers, the current labor environment is a tale of gloom and doom. Workers are quitting at historic rates, prospective and current employees are demanding more and more benefits, and labor costs are skyrocketing as companies compete for talent in a tight labor market. No matter how you look at it, it’s a tough spot for leaders to be in.
As with all difficult situations, however, there is a potential opportunity for those willing to take it. This isn’t easy, but it is possible. If you were to walk into any business, especially a retailer, and ask a manager how things are going, you’re likely to get an earful. Employees are quitting. No one wants to work. Everyone wants a raise and more PTO. Hours of operation are being reduced due to a lack of staffing. Customer wait times have skyrocketed. And on and on and on.
These are valid issues, to be sure. Anyone with experience managing retail stores has full empathy for those who continue to show up to work in those environments.
That said, with a change in perspective and an open mind, any organization can use the “Great Resignation” as a “Great Opportunity.” Here are just a few ways to create a silver lining for your company:
Overhaul the culture
It has long been recognized that employees don’t leave jobs — they leave bad managers and toxic cultures.
But culture is an incredibly difficult thing to change during times of status quo. Times of upheaval and rapid change, like now, offer a rare opportunity to build a completely new culture. Take advantage of your tenured employees to find out why they stay and what they’d change. Stay close to your hiring managers to understand what incoming employees want and need. When you take that information and marry it to your organization’s strategy and goals, you can create a healthy culture that inspires loyalty and commitment.
Focus on retention
One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to be so focused on talent acquisition that they neglect the talent they already have.
Any employee who has stuck around has undoubtedly had to take on additional responsibilities to fill the gaps from those who left or for positions that haven’t been filled. Making sure these people feel valued and appreciated will go a long way toward stemming the flow of resignation. Aside from ensuring they are paid competitively, make a conscious effort to recognize good work and care about their well-being.
If you’re not familiar with upskilling, it’s the friendlier and more effective cousin of cross-training. While cross-training is usually designed to allow greater flexibility in times of need, employees often interpret it as a way for their employer to get them to do more work for the same pay.
By contrast, upskilling is the intentional process of giving employees opportunities to improve their skills. For those interested in upward mobility, this may take the form of additional responsibility or being part of exciting projects. For those happy in their role, upskilling can look like continuing education or piloting new technology to make their jobs easier.
Upskilling benefits everyone. The employees feel more engaged in their work and recognize that their employer is invested in their growth, while the organization gets progressively higher-skilled talent and has a better idea of where they stand with leadership bench strength and where their succession planning may need some attention.
Above all, lead with an abundance mentality. With every headline and news story regaling us with all that we lack, simply choosing to remain focused on gratitude for what you have and finding opportunities within the storm will enable your organization to look back at this time as the “Great Opportunity.”
Heather Mellick is the owner and lead consultant at Webb Consulting Group LLC, a management consulting and leadership coaching firm based in Bountiful, Utah.