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The Great Resignation: 5 Reasons Your Team Members are Leaving & How to Retain Your Top Talent

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the term attributed to the ongoing massive movements within the talent community, “The Great Resignation.” Named by renowned organizational psychologist, Dr. Anthony Klotz, the impacts from this movement can and will be, well, anything but “great.” Especially, for teams already burdened by the enormous challenges of the last year and a half. Loss of team members results in loss of productivity, increased workload on other team members, decreased morale, excess costs dedicated to identifying and hiring backfill resources, etcetera, etcetera. Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index indicated that a staggering 41% of survey respondents were considering leaving their jobs in the next year. When nearly half of the workforce is considering making a move, the focus for organizations needs to be on protecting and preserving its top talent.

As active members of the talent community, Mindset has observed five major influences behind professionals choosing to leave their current roles and companies and join the wave of resignations. Identifying and enacting potential retention solutions to these core reasons will help you serve as a strong advocate for your team and not a simple bystander to the movement. 

1. Remote Workforce Means More Competition –  Of course, there has always been competing opportunities for your team members. Pre-pandemic, these were likely the large organizations located down the block, in the next suburb, fishing from the same talent pool. However, LinkedIn has reported a spike in remote positions totaling a 500% increase over the past year. This means that your talented team members are now being recruited and poached from organizations across the country/globe, instead of just the backyard. More options, more temptation, more risk of losing out on great people. 

Not only has the growing competition field increased, but so has your team members’ desire to be remote. Maybe they’ve relocated to be closer to family or escape Midwest winters. Maybe they’ve found their mental health has improved by not having to commute every day. Maybe they’re like one of my client partners who sought to take advantage of the remote-work-life by trading in their family home for an Airstream and are now traveling the country, working from the open road. Regardless of the rationale, there’s no doubt that the power has shifted to be employee-centric. Professionals want to be autonomous about where and how they work and, right now, they have ample opportunity to do that, whether it’s on their current team or not.

Throughout our listed solutions, you’ll find a common thread of needing to engage personally, 1-on-1, with each and every team member to identify their individual goals, desires, and motivations. This is most definitely the solution to the new remote-work lifestyle. Connect with your team to better understand their specific needs and views on working remotely so that you can tailor a work plan that accommodates them. This does not mean you need to coddle your team, but it will help create a data-driven plan that will ensure your team members feel heard, considered, and valued.

2. Team Members are Burnt Out – While working from home, many of us have realized we’re now living at work. Microsoft recently reported that the average Microsoft Teams user is sending and receiving 42% more chat messages after standard work hours while still maintaining average response times within five minutes. This means your team members may be feeling the need to be engaged 24/7. That level of anticipation and expectation can easily lead to burned-out individuals, which could result in them disengaging and, ultimately, seeking something new. 

Throughout the last year, we’ve seen many companies witness this trend and find creative solutions to combat it. From Covid-19 relief packages, to Summer Fridays, to no-meeting-Mondays, there are several ways you can show your team that you care about their well-being. Make sure you’re connecting with everyone individually to be sure they understand expectations of normal ‘working hours’ and, if needed, how to respond when asks come outside of those. Without having these clarifying conversations, your team may be implicitly pressuring themselves to be on and working when that’s not actual expectation. When you are checking in with your individuals, look for signs of burn-out. Encourage them to take time off, acknowledge if they’re working overtime and ask what can be done to alleviate any overage in responsibilities, reset expectations that allow for healthy work-life balance. 

3. Lack of Engagement – John Donne said, “No man is an island,” but even he would likely acknowledge how easy it is to fall into that mindset while working separately and remotely. In a virtual world of floating names on Zoom calls, it is precipitous for professionals to feel like just another number and not a valued team member, especially in larger corporate environments. The onus is now on employers to ensure their teams feel appreciated in order to keep them engaged. This needs to occur at both a group and individual level. Broad strokes of employee-appreciation efforts are great, but not likely to be enough to keep someone onboard. Your team members will need to be seen, heard, and treated as individuals in order to feel truly valued. 

Training your managers to keep consistent 1-on-1 sessions, developing individual professional roadmaps, and frequently checking in with your groups can help ensure your team members stay engaged. If symptoms of disengagement are occurring, you can more easily step in and mitigate as needed. If you aren’t engaged with your employees, you cannot expect them to be engaged with you.

4. More Growth Opportunities – Amongst the onslaught of recruiting messages your team members are receiving, are bound to be promises of better growth opportunities at other organizations. The pandemic has led to numerous professionals feeling ‘stuck’ in current positions with no strong prospects of promotion or progression. With new generations joining the workforce and the opening of the virtual job market, employees no longer have much motivation to commit their entire careers to one organization. Especially, if the career path is unclear for them, they are much more apt to pursue outside opportunities in order to grow. 

Regardless if you have 10 or 10,000 employees, each individual needs to be treated as such, with a personalized career path and plan. Everyone wants to feel like they are working toward achieving something, something other than the company’s profit profile. It’s important for you to be aware of each team members’ personal motivations and aspirations to help build a structure and roadmap that keeps them stimulated and engaged. Collaborate with your organizations’ learning and development and HR teams to ensure the organization is equipped and effective at supporting these plans. 

5. Higher Pay – Perhaps, the most obvious and prevalent reason for people leaving their current roles are promises of higher pay. With such a tight crunch on the talent market and companies desperate to backfill positions, offers are quickly increasing to 15-20% above averages compared to just a few months ago. For some, the allure of a larger paycheck may be the sole motivation needed to make a jump. For others, it may be the final tug to convince them. Either way, it’s certainly a factor necessary for consideration, especially for your top performers.

However, you can’t simply dole out more money just because there’s increased competition. You should, though, if you haven’t done so in the past year, consider running a market analysis to see if you’re at least in the right ballpark for salaries compared to normal market conditions. If your ranges are on target, consider the other value-adds you provide to your employees other than their personal checks. Where can other time and attention be spent to ensure your team feels valued? Analysis shows that if an employee feels appreciated, has purpose, and believes they’re an important part of a team, the end-number on their pay stub is less of a contributing factor to their staying or going. 

Overall, there’s a high likelihood your team will face some attrition in the next several months. Although it’s an inevitable part of managing a team, we’re hoping these solutions help mitigate the damage that could be done. What it really boils down to is providing a comprehensive and complete experience for each team member as individuals, serving needs on all levels beyond just financial. For more ideas or suggestions on how to weather the talent storm, please reach out to me at sarahlewis@mindsetconsulting.com.

Sarah Lewis is a Senior Account Executive at Mindset with more than 8 years of experience working with clients on technical staffing needs and optimization projects. She loves helping clients solve problems, meeting new people, and collaborating with her talented team. Outside of work, Sarah is an avid runner, bookworm, and dog mom to two wonderful pups, Huckleberry & Jack. She enjoys hiking with her husband and competing in her recreational flag-football and kickball leagues.

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