Battling the Big Quit

The current trend known as “the Big Quit” or “the Great Resignation” is expected to continue into 2022. In 2021, a monthly average of 3.95 million workers quit their jobs for various reasons as indicated by different reports and polls. 

Joblist conducted a survey which indicated dissatisfaction with how their employer treated them during COVID-19, low pay or benefits, and lack of work-life balance as reasons why employees quit their jobs, with a majority of remaining employees contemplating quitting as well. According to a report published by MIT Sloan School of Management, the “Great Resignation” is driven by five factors in addition to compensation: a toxic corporate culture, job insecurity and reorganization, high levels of innovation, failure to recognize employee performance, and poor response to COVID-19. The Atlantic attributes some of the increased employee resignation rates to employees switching to better, higher-paying jobs and to older workers retiring instead of coming back when their businesses reopened after COVID lockdowns.

With 10.9 million job openings and more than 4.5 million new businesses registered in the first 10 months of 2021 (most of which are people working for themselves) employees have several options to find the pay, benefits, security, and/or work-life balance they want and need. 

Employers who want to retain their current employees and attract quality new employees should take an honest assessment of their company and prioritize initiatives to address employee needs and concerns.  

COVID-19 response: Employers should provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees while also realizing everyone has been personally impacted by COVID-19 differently. Employees should feel protected at work and not be retaliated against or belittled for having concerns or taking measures they feel they need to protect themselves and their families.

What you can do: Follow expert guidance on current protocols. Monitor positivity trends in your area and adjust as needed. Understand your employees’ concerns and challenges, offering assistance and compassion when possible

Insufficient pay or benefits: Employees are finding jobs with higher pay and better benefits and perks, usually in the same or similar industry utilizing their current job skills. 

What you can do: Conduct an unbiased assessment of your compensation practices, comparing them to the current market for your size, area, and industry. Offer affordable and valued insurance plans including the traditional health and dental insurance to more creative policies such as an EAP, pet health, or long-term care. Consider offering perks employees will appreciate such as occasional catered meals, on-site services such as auto detailing and dry cleaning, and half-days. Revise your paid time off policies to offer more days off, to be more flexible, or to be available sooner in an employee’s tenure.

Work-life balance: COVID-19 magnified the often-conflicting demands employees face outside of work. When mandates first went into effect, companies needed employees to figure out how to work from home. After an adjustment period, employees realized that the once-accepted outlays of working in-person such as commute times and costs related to shift meals and maintaining professional dress may not be necessary. On-going issues such as caring for sick or vulnerable family members, lacking reliable childcare, or having to stay home with a “pandemic pet” with separation anxiety make it impossible for some employees to come into the workplace regularly.

What you can do: Conduct an honest review of the business’ needs. Demonstrate the value you have for your employees by respecting their priorities. Let go of the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and consider new, possibly untraditional, work arrangements which allow employees to fulfill their job duties while honoring their outside commitments. 

Toxic culture: Companies are not immune to the real-world volatility many witness every day and see on the news and social media. Personal opinions on hot-button topics such as COVID-19 measures, racial inequity, social injustice, and political viewpoints may intentionally or inadvertently impact an employee’s experience at work. 

What you can do: Treat employees fairly and consistently, especially if they have different opinions, backgrounds, or experiences. Support every employee’s rights while consistently limiting contentious interactions. Educate yourself, your managers, and all employees how to maintain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.  Draft, implement, and enforce policies strictly prohibiting discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, retaliation, bullying, and workplace violence. Train supervisors to properly handle issues and to promptly investigate complaints.  

Employee recognition: Employees leave over more than just compensation and benefits. They want to know that their contributions to the company are valued through positive interactions and recognition with their co-workers and management. Employees who know they are valued and can be shown a long-term future with the company will be incentivized to stay, even when other factors aren’t optimum.  

What you can do: Create an effective performance management system to consistently communicate positives and negatives to each employee. Empower employees within their job function or cross-train to help them develop new skills. Conduct assessments to determine the behaviors, motivators, and workstyle of your high-potential employees. Work with employees to create a job-development plan which fits their goals. Implement an employee recognition program, whether it is as simple as an email to recognize someone’s efforts or as elaborate as a well-managed program with levels and rewards.

Affinity HR Group has all the solutions you need to help with your people management issues. Our enhanced HR Support Plan offers unlimited compliance consulting, a custom employee handbook, and significant savings on our entire menu of services. Connect with us at 866-660-6400 or [email protected] to learn more.

By Paige McAllister, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice President for Compliance – Affinity HR Group, Inc.

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The Advice Bites blog delivers practical, tactical, and informative guidance about the biggest workplace trends, and thoughtful insights about how you can apply them to your business.