What Managers Can Do to Combat ‘The Great Resignation’

A swirl of news stories about ‘The Great Resignation’ has put employee retention in the leadership spotlight. 1 in 4 workers is considering quitting their job after the pandemic.   I’ve seen the fear in our consulting practice, too;  Our clients are deeply worried about retaining their talent as the job market continues to shift.

Yet, much that has been written about talent retention is geared towards executive leadership. Frontline managers often don’t control remote-work policies or major salary increases but they do pay a steep day-to-day price when talent starts to turn over.

Below are four tips to help you retain talent, no matter where in the org chart you are:

  1. Acknowledge that things have changed.

Don’t “back to normal” your team too quickly. Failing to acknowledge changes post-pandemic does not make them go away. For many, a period of remote work and reflection have altered career plans. It’s crucial for managers to recognize this and talk about it openly. Doing so gives you the opportunity to ask about changes (before reading about them in a resignation letter).

  1. Consider Reskilling

As your organization continues navigating change, consider training opportunities to engage and upskill your team even further. Training can take the form of a free webinar, a LinkedIn Learning course, or even designated 1-1 coaching. All of these send a signal to employees: your growth matters.

  1. Know that Flexibility Will Prevail (For Now)

Your internal alarm bells may start ringing at permanent remote work requests. Breathe. Focus on what is within your control. You may not be able to offer unlimited flexibility, but within your team, you can make changes that matter. Consider a ‘no meeting’ day each week, flexible arrival and departure times, or even requests around what projects people on your team are working on. The groundswell need of flexibility extends beyond where we work; engaged employees require a degree of autonomy about when and how they work.

  1. Highlight the Impact of the Work

Recent research from McKinsey reveals that, “The tumult of the past year prompted many to reflect on their purpose and values—and research shows over two-thirds of employees say their sense of purpose is defined by work.” It may sound like a lot of pressure, to fulfill someone’s need for life purpose in an average, corporate role. But it can be done in the cadence of regular business by talking about how the work makes a difference and why the contribution of each person matters. For more tips, check out my new LinkedIn Learning course, Leading with Purpose.

As a manager, you are often the single most influential factor in how engaged your team is and how long they stay.

Yet, as much as logistically, and even emotionally, it’s painful, some turnover is a good thing. Gone are the days where working 30 years for the same company is the norm. In 25 years, people will have entire careers in industries that don’t exist today.

You don’t want your team to be a revolving door for talent. You also don’t want to become stagnant in the name of ‘talent retention.’

As a leader, your role is to help your team step into their full power. With empathy, compassion, and purpose, you can guide your team through choppy waters (even if that means a career change).