A second wave of the Great Resignation coming?

by | Dec 7, 2023

Some organizations are committed to excellence, not just as a slogan, byline, or core values painted on the wall, but actually with actions to support those words.

And then there are other organizations who stubbornly cling to the old ways of business: insisting their employees come back to the office, scrutinizing the number of hours they work, and maintaining the old employer hierarchy where the employees should just feel grateful they have a job.

I have been talking with colleagues and collaborators about how those latter organizations are going to suffer and may even close. One consultant told me about an 80-year-old family-run business that has not changed with the times and will probably shut down. An 80-year-old legacy gone. Other organizations are continuing to see employee retention problems. And, of course, culture issues abound.

We just completed a Company Climate Inventory for a client, and one of the questions we ask is if people can see themselves working at this organization in three years. The answers are always fascinating. For this particular company, 36% did not say they could see themselves working there in three years. That means in three years, over 1/3 of their workforce may be gone.

And if you pay attention to Gallup’s employee engagement statistics, they have stayed pretty consistent over the years with only about 1/3 of employees being actively engaged, and 2/3 not engaged (whether just not engaged or actively disengaged), which means they’re open to other employment opportunities.

It’s December right now, and the holidays and the end of the year are around the corner. Most of us don’t rock any boats as we want to finish out the year, focus on the holidays, and generally slow down a bit.

Then what happens in January? New year. New you. You start to rethink your life. So, what if you’re in a job that doesn’t jazz you, and you daydream of how it could be better?

You start looking for other opportunities.

Now, let’s turn it around to the leaders of organizations. What can you do to stem a potential tide of employees leaving and vacant holes in your org chart?

  • Value your employees, and not just because of the chair they keep warm. Do they bring value? Is what they do important to the organization? If so, does it matter if it took two hours or 20?
  • TELL them you value them! Acknowledge them. Explain how what they do is important to the functioning of the organization. Make them feel they matter.
  • Give them feedback. 65% of employees say they want more feedback. Catch them doing something good, so to speak. One of our partners has an employee engagement platform whereby managers can give on-the-spot feedback (good as well as constructive). Isn’t that more helpful than an annual review where it’s shared that the manager saw this particular issue ten months ago. How can someone work on a ten-month-old issue (or ten weeks or maybe even ten days)?
  • Listen to them. The best way to have engaged employees (other than some of the above suggestions) is to ask for their suggestions. It doesn’t mean that you have to implement everything, but making strides to improve based on their feedback goes a long way to making them feel a necessary part of the machine. (Shameless plug: this is where our Company Climate Inventory shines, but if you don’t use our solution, find some way to hear what your employees have to say.)

If you don’t want to experience a second wave of the Great Resignation, take steps to value your employees, let them know, hear from them, and then potentially put all that to work to create an organization that adapts and thrives, instead of withering and dying.


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