Is your business prepared for the great resignation?

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Employees are jumping ship for new opportunities. Here is what you can do to keep your team.

In April 2020, the national unemployment rate reached 14.7%. Over 23 million people were without work and many more were sent home from their offices not knowing when they would be able to return. Those still employed were happy to have a job and many stayed with their current employer over uncertainty of what would happen if they left.

Fast forward to today. The jobless numbers have dropped steadily. Nationally we are down to around 6% and locally we are at 3.5%, which is a far cry from where we stood just a few months ago. The Great Resignation is in the news and on the minds of colleagues in placement and human resources. When the pandemic of 2020 hit, many employees dissatisfied with their jobs chose to stay versus taking a risk with a new opportunity. Now that confidence is rising, once-worried staffers are seeking offers.

According to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey, 26% of those who responded plan to make a job change after the pandemic ends. Another 42% of those workers will leave if their current employer chooses not to offer remote work options. It is tough to find good talent right now. How will it be to recruit if you are also losing valuable members of your team?

Nobody planned for a pandemic and many companies were forced to quickly adapt to remote work in order to keep operations going. Now employees want to keep remote work as a benefit while businesses are trying to figure out how to bring back staff.

The abrupt change in how we work will impact team culture and expectations. If you wish to make a net gain in your staff numbers, you will have to adjust. Here’s what you need to remember:

  • Remote work is a thing. There are still many business leaders who see employees in the office as a sign of productivity. Expecting people to willingly return to the office full time is probably not an option, especially if staff has been able to work well from home. Look for ways to manage a balance between office time and remote work.
  • Culture will change. It is much harder to maintain workplace culture if you are accustomed to the traditional office environment. Leaders must be more conscious of what culture they wish to create and adapt their style to guide a hybrid work environment.
  • There are now greater opportunities for finding talent. If we do see a Great Resignation, we will have the ability to onboard quality team members to fill needed gaps.
  • That also means being flexible. I hear more companies choosing to hire people without relocating them. That means you could hire someone from California to work remotely in Madison because it benefits both groups.
  • Expectations need to be clear. What does it mean to be productive and how will that be measured? It seems simple enough, yet many employees have found it difficult to disconnect from their jobs or know when the workday ends and personal time begins. To avoid burnout, leaders will need to address this.
  • Leaders must coach, not manage. Today’s worker wants some control over what they do, and they want guidance from the people they work for. The boss needs to be a mentor and a guide instead of a director and a delegator.
  • Personal growth matters. Advancement is necessary to keep people engaged, but that doesn’t mean endless promotions. Employees are seeking opportunities to learn and bring greater value. Training and development are critical here. Companies that offer better learning and development tracks will be more likely to retain staff longer.

Keeping your talent will be challenging. Finding new team members probably won’t be much easier. However, if you are willing to change how you do business, you may be able to keep people longer and attract some from the Great Resignation pool.

Dan Paulson is CEO of InVision Development International.