“The Great Resignation” describes the unprecedented phenomenon of the millions of employees who quit their jobs since April of 2021. According to a recent article on MIT Sloan Management Review, “Between April and September 2021, more than 24 million American employees left their jobs, an all-time record.” Another 4.5 million workers—the highest monthly total on record—left the workforce in November 2021 as published in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover report.
What has caused such extraordinary job departure numbers? Actually, it’s a convergence of many factors such as:
- failing workplace cultures,
- poor employee treatment,
- wage stagnation,
- limited flexibility,
- job instability,
- burnout, and
- unsatisfactory COVID-19 responses.
In the wake of the pandemic, these factors caused employees to re-assess their priorities and re-examine why, how, and where they work—opting to create better life balance by regaining control in their lives.
Employees are Leaving Jobs to Start their Own Businesses
One upshot of The Great Resignation is the increase in entrepreneurial starts. According to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT), “Since the onset of the pandemic, the number of new businesses registered with the state has surged by historic numbers—91,929 in 2020 and 84,822 in 2021,” said SDAT Director Michael Higgs in a recent press release.
Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) continues to empower Maryland’s small businesses and women entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses. We offer training workshops, including sessions on how to start your business and write an effective business plan. Instruction, coupled with business counseling that pairs entrepreneurs with knowledgeable business consultants and funding resources, help ensure that businesses can sustain themselves for years to come.
Employee Engagement is Essential to Retaining Good Talent
On the flip side, The Great Resignation provides a critical opportunity for companies to re-evaluate their employee retention efforts and ways to attract new talent. “As the Great Resignation rolls on, business leaders are struggling to make sense of the factors driving the mass exodus. More importantly, they are looking for ways to hold on to valued employees.”
Predictions state that The Great Resignation will slow down in 2022, but the tight labor market is driving the way that companies look at their culture, benefits and salaries in an effort to be more competitive. Many of these issues require thoughtful, long-term solutions, but there are a few short-term strategies that companies can employ now to help retain employees, according to findings offered by the MIT Sloan Management Review.
- Provide opportunities for lateral job moves or job rotations. When promotions aren’t an option, consider ways to offer employees new experiences within the company. Often, employees are simply ready for new challenges and responsibilities, or the chance to work with a new team. Organizations can retain valued employees by offering lateral job moves or job rotation opportunities. Employees can gain a deeper understanding of the company while also growing both professionally and personally. This may be especially appealing to Millennial employees who desire continual learning experiences and want to broaden their skill sets.
- Rethink employee engagement and invest in activities that strengthen personal connections among teammates. The pandemic caused HR and leadership teams to rethink employee engagement in a remote environment. In-person or virtual company-sponsored events, such as happy hours, town halls, team trivia, cross-functional team lunches, and other fun, low-cost ideas build a healthy work culture, help employees stay connected, improve communication, and increase employee retention.
- Offer remote work options and flexible hours. Flexible work arrangements have become the norm, not the exception. In fact, the WFH Research Project recently found that employees value flexibility as much as a 10% pay raise. This is consistent with the findings in a Future Forum* report that surveyed 10,000 knowledge workers and found that 95% of respondents desire flexible hours and 78% want flexibility in their work location. Where possible, look for ways to give employees more control in setting their work schedules to improve retention.
MWBC is currently developing a workshop to explore The Great Resignation more deeply, with tips from experts to help companies manage and mitigate its effects. Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates.
* Future Forum is a consortium focused on reimagining the future of work led by Slack Technologies Inc.