Employer Challenges in the Great Resignation Era


In the postpandemic world where the ‘new’ normal is no longer new, a whole new set of challenges have emerged in the work environment. According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, 41% of the workforce are considering quitting, remote job postings on LinkedIn increased over 5X since the pandemic, and hybrid/flexible work is here to stay. What does this all mean for employers?

In a nutshell, the corporate mindset must change

McKinsey’s article on the great attrition found that “More than 19 million US workers – and counting – have quit their jobs since April 2021…” Among other reasons, generations Y and Z feel that employers demand too much of them, work-life balance is not where they would like it to be, and that their work doesn’t give them the meaning they want. Just like in the consumer market, employees want ‘people experiences’ in the workplace, which demands a new type of psychological contract between employer and employee.

According to McKinsey, this new mindset requires companies to truly understand their employees and develop more empathy towards what they’re going through. As opposed to the last decade when employees left the workplace because they found the work not challenging enough (even though the pay was excellent) or thought they could find better opportunities to use their skills and knowledge elsewhere, employees today crave interactions, want to feel valued, and look for more meaning.

What can organizations do today to diminish the blow of the great resignation?

Develop a growth mindset

According to Carol Dweck’s 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, when people believe they are not limited by their traits and habits, they can learn, grow, improve, and ultimately be successful. In the growth mindset, people embrace challenge, persist on the face of obstacles, learn from criticism, and feel inspired by others.

To avoid the great resignation phenomenon in your company, create a culture of growth. Develop trust between you and your workforce and invest in empowering them to solve problems and bring new ideas to the table. Encourage dialog between employees and give them the autonomy to reach their goals and objectives without looking over their shoulders. Don’t be afraid if they collide, it’s a learning experience.

Communicate value not by increasing salaries (what McKinsey calls a ‘transactional work environment’) but by listening to your employees’ opinions and ideas. Trust that they will make decisions that will not only benefit the company but also them as individuals and remove obstacles that may hinder their progress.

Foster two-way communications

Today’s young generations are looking for symmetrical relationships with employers. Mirror and celebrate your employees’ success, recognize and appreciate their contribution however small, and encourage their suggestions and feedback. Embrace their autonomy and encourage the sharing of experiences and challenges, related and not related to the workplace.

Employees who feel their voice is heard will provide you with more relevant information and suggestions that will further your business and will demonstrate more awareness to something that is more relevant to them. Reinforce active listening, participation and collaboration, and respect both their accomplishments as well as failures (as they can learn from them).

Last but not least, don’t be shy when it comes to giving feedback or expressing gratitude. There’s nothing like too much positive feedback or overcommunication. The more trust you show your employees and the more validated they feel, the more efficient they will feel and willing to transform their workplace.

Embrace reverse feedback

What better way to make employees feel valued than being open to hear what they think about their managers? In recent years, the value of performance reviews is being questioned more and more, as it does not prove to improve performance and/or inspire employees. This also ties in with two-way communications, as only real conversations will help you understand the people behind the employees and their performance.

One of the ways to change the paradigm is reverse feedback. Ask them what you should be doing to make their job more fulfilling. Forbes 16 Tips to Transform Employee Performance Evaluations in 2022 talk about changing the ‘rules of engagement’ of performance feedback to adapt them to the new norm of the hybrid, postpandemic workplace. In addition to introducing new performance evaluation processes and more frequent conversations (also called checkins or touchpoints), consider introducing a reverse feedback mechanism.

These are some of the questions you can ask:

  • How would you like to receive and give feedback?
  • Do you think you get enough information from me about the projects our group is involved in?
  • Am I sensitive/empathetic enough to your needs? Am I a good listener?
  • Are you happy with the challenges of the work we give you? What would you change?
  • What motivates you or reduces your motivation?
  • What support are you lacking from me? Do you feel you receive enough mentoring from me?

Conduct these reverse-feedback sessions as frequently as you can so you can always cover different topics. Take advantage of this two-way communication to listen to what your employees think the workplace should look like going forward, what they are looking for and interested in. Most importantly, talk about what will keep your company and you relevant to them.


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