Last Updated on December 10, 2021 – 8:11 am

Every other year, there seems to be a new buzzword for the workforce. This time, it’s the “Great Resignation.” It’s essential to understand it, especially as 4.4 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in September 2021, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It certainly was a debacle of pandemic proportions.

On a macroeconomic level, years of inflation and stagnant wages came to a head during the pandemic. Suddenly, the value of labor became evident, as workers now understood the need to find personal comfort outside of traditional office culture.

So, what is the Great Resignation? Who does it affect? Why does it matter? This article is the place to learn everything there is to know about this near-global phenomenon and its far-reaching effects.

Employee Experience is Driving the Great Resignation

Despite the grim statistics in the opening paragraph of this article, it’s important to note that the story didn’t end there. While the extent of resignations remains worrying, employers have real concerns about the number of open positions. This makes it necessary to understand the root cause of the Great Resignation.

One of the reasons employees are leaving is that they have never been more disengaged. According to Gallup, the percentage of employee disengagement pre-COVID to post COVID rose from 69% to 74%, respectively. Now that money alone is not enough, improving the employee experience is key to retaining top talent. 

Glassdoor research revealed that around 75% of active job seekers would likely apply to jobs for brands that the employer has actively managed. Investing in employee engagement and experience boosts retention and performance, which is a plus for the employer brand because happy employees tell positive stories about the organization. 

Resignation rates have remained highest among mid-level employees in the 30-45-year-old band. The rise in remote work options has led employees to prefer hiring workers with significant experience to offset the need for in-person training and guidance that less experienced employees need. That creates a scarcity in the market of mid-career employees and makes more jobs available to them.

This workforce demographic also appears to have delayed resignations until certainty returned after the pandemic. However, mounting workloads, hiring freezes, and pressures may have also played a role in helping these experienced employees decide to leave their jobs.

Surviving the Great Resignation

Before the Great Resignation, employers didn’t have to worry as much about finding talent and retaining it. This movement created a widening mismatch between what employees want and what they expect from the workplace. 

Companies are becoming more aware that it takes significantly longer to recruit an employee than it does for them to leave their two-week notice. Reducing attrition and making your company an attractive place to stay is a severe challenge, so here are three steps to enhance the sense of belonging and reinforce value. 

How Companies Should Handle the Great Resignation

As a company hit by this resignation tsunami, damage control may not be enough. Companies need to turn to the very thing that has made jobs redundant instead of people: technology. Technology made remote work possible, but data is the ingredient companies are leveraging to fine-tune their operations.

How might data help your company beat the Great Resignation bug? There are three ways to go about this and improve employee retention:

#1 – Know your numbers

Begin by determining why your organization is experiencing employee turnover. You’ll not just know that it’s happening; you should know the precise scope of the problem and its impact.

A simple formula for calculating your retention rate is this:

Turnover Rate = Number of Separations per Year ÷ Average Total Number of Employees

This formula and others like it show how many resignations are voluntary compared to those employees you eased off. That way, you can ascertain the extent of the Great Resignation at your organization.

Then, it would help if you worked on how these resignations impact critical business metrics. Does increased turnover correlate with changes in other key metrics? That’s how to get a full picture of resignations.

#2 – Identify the root causes

Once you know the size of your retention problem, you need to scour your data to pinpoint what’s making your staff leave. There’s a good reason why how to leverage data remains one of the hot topics in the HR technology market.

Ideally, you want to understand the spikes in resignation. Could it be due to compensation, promotions, performance metrics, training and development opportunities, and so forth?

Segmenting employees by categories also provides more insight into the correlation between work experiences and retention rates. At least, you’ll be able to predict which employee groups are most likely to resign and to address their chief concerns.

#3 – Rethink Your Retention Strategy

Finally, talk directly to your people and build a retention strategy that answers the vital employee question, “What’s in it for me?” Or even better, if top talent is leaving, be straightforward in asking, “What would it take for you to stay?” And then, make it happen. Discuss future expectations and develop solutions that directly correlate to those expectations. 

Aside from flexible working options and growth opportunities, the retention strategy should optimize compensation and benefits. This includes detecting and correcting pay inequities for working moms of young children and people of color. 

Remember that the continued success of your company depends on your employees. So, taking a human-centric approach by remaining flexible when people choose their work location or offering one-time bonuses will strengthen trust and loyalty. 

Now is the time to open those lines of communication and acknowledge the need for measures that improve employees’ mental and physical well-being. But, it’s also a great time to provide valuable opportunities to grow and advance. Be as transparent as possible during this process because transparency strengthens the company culture, which, as a result, increases employee engagement. 

How Will You Convince Them to Stay?

Having determined the real reasons your employees leave, it’s essential to convince them that staying with your company is the best move for their careers.

An agile approach is to develop tailored employee programs to correct the most pressing workplace issues that your employees have shared. Some companies have implemented a DEI-first strategy to help people of color remain at their company for longer, for instance.

Whether it’s about compensation, productivity, or training, the idea is to tackle specific issues using specific solutions.

Indeed, data has become one of the top trends in the HR tech market. However, you’ll need a robust qualitative and quantitative data infrastructure to make effective decisions. It’s advisable to invest in a user-first system to track and analyze the metrics necessary for sustained retention.