How The Great Resignation Can Become the Great Attraction

Since April 2021, more than 19 million American workers have resigned from their employment, a record rate that has disrupted companies across the country. This phenomenon has also found its footing in India, with many IT firms witnessing more than a 20% attrition rate till September.

This, as many have termed it, is the Great Resignation.

Even with well-intentioned solutions that are meant to make employees stay, solutions such as increasing salary or giving financial advantages or delivering "thank you" incentives and gifts, organizations are still struggling.

Because what’s missing is the effort to build a human relationship between employees and employers.

When employers focus solely on the transactional nature of their employee relationships, employees end up feeling unappreciated. They are reminded that their genuine needs are not being addressed, let alone satisfied.

What are employees really looking for?
During the past 18 months, we've learned that employees want the human side of their jobs to be invested in.

Most employees are exhausted and many are mourning the loss of loved ones. They are looking for a fresh feeling of purpose. They are looking for relationships with their co-workers and leaders on a personal level. They are looking for a sense of belonging. In addition to compensation, benefits, and perks, they want to feel appreciated by their employers and bosses. They are looking for more than simply transactional connections.

As organization’s fail to engage in a more meaningful employee experience and to match the new needs for autonomy and flexibility at work, some employees are even opting to completely withdraw from traditional full-time employment models. Leaders need a new model for understanding what their employees are fleeing from and what they are drawing towards, before their organizations become too vulnerable to save.

We need a new strategy
Circumstances do not need to remain the same. The Great Resignation can be replaced by the Great Attraction if organizations make a deliberate attempt to actually acknowledge why employees quit and take real steps to keep them engaged. They can even gain an advantage in the fight to recruit, develop, and retain the people they need if they make their move in time.

First and foremost, companies and their leaders must get to know their employees. They must be able to combine empathy with a strong desire to act and change through compassion. Only then can they begin to deliver the autonomy, connection, sense of community, and spirit of intention that employees are longing for.

So, take a moment and consider your next steps.

How to be human at work: a game plan
Recognize the shifts in employee priorities, requirements, and expectations.
Because of COVID and a prolonged work-from-home period, many employees have taken on additional responsibilities, such as educating their children, starting a side project or taking on home renovations.

Leaders must talk to their employees to learn about their new priorities, needs, and expectations in light of these shifts, and then do all they can to meet those needs. The Great Resignation can be mitigated in part by providing employees with reasonable adjustments and proving that your organisation understands their individual circumstances.

The second step is to deal with burnout.
You can prevent burnout by promoting a safe work atmosphere. Make sure that your employees understand that they are valued and cared for in your workplace. Before that, ask yourself: do your employees have a place where they can go to ask for help?

Then, you can show compassion via your attempts to communicate with them and understand their problems. Consider the positive words of encouragement and acknowledgment that come directly from senior executives and direct supervisors. If you can replicate that feeling for your employees, why not? Ask your staff how they're doing and how much work they have, so that you can make adjustments and give them more help if necessary.

Promote self-care as well. The use of PTO and other perks should be encouraged regularly. Remind employees that they have access to resources such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Don’t let EAPs stay neglected.

Ensure a healthy work environment.
Employee wellbeing covers more than just physical health. Having a sense of purpose, emotional well-being, financial security, and strong, supportive relationships are all important aspects of a holistically healthy lifestyle.

You can reinforce these with regular coffee meetings and team-building events, whether they're virtual or in-person. Investing in one's self, whether professionally or personally, can do wonders for one's overall well-being. Having your employees realise that along with promoting their financial planning, boundary setting, and resiliency are all important considerations that they will remember at the moment of truth.

Encourage and recognise those workers who have decided to stay with the company.
In the wake of the Great Resignation, your surviving workers are feeling the effects just as much as your company is. When the number of resignations is high, it has a negative effect on morale. They’ve suffered the loss of friends and co-workers they had come to count on. They are likely to be asked to perform more tasks in the future. They may be feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

Make use of the resources at your disposal to keep these workers on board. Have a team-building activity, for example, where employees can meet new co-workers. This will do a lot to lift people's spirits and help them rediscover their feeling of belonging to a community.

Rewarding your existing staff with advancement possibilities is also critical. When one employee leaves the company, the door is open for another to step in. A new project, promotion, or any other form of advancement will be welcomed by your staff.

Organizations must keep in mind that the Great Resignation is no hoax. It is a genuine phenomenon that will persist and might even, in some cases, worsen. However, taking a step back and focusing on the human components of work that people have missed the most is the best way to turn this bane on its head and make it a boon for every stakeholder in your organization.