Apr 1 / James Poletyllo & Katie Godden, The Learning Effect

The 7 Step Approach Organisations Should Take To Navigate The Great Resignation

What is the Great Resignation?

The great resignation was a term coined by Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University. He put forward the idea that significant numbers of people would leave their roles following the global pandemic caused by Coronavirus. The premise behind this was that due to changes in the way we lived, mass layoffs, furlough and increased introspection by people spending more time at home, it would change how we viewed work. This would be further exacerbated by changing the nature of peoples work environments and work conditions it would lead to more people thinking about moving roles. This would in theory lead to mass voluntary resignations, with a survey of 1,000 UK workers revealing that they are considering moving role in 2022.

Why is it happening?

Covid and the pandemic may have been the initial trigger, but a range of other factors are contributing to people’s desire or need to move roles. If you layer up all of the global events layer on top all the global events starting with the global pandemic, #metoo, Black Lives Matters, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been a change in how we think about work and organisations, work-life balance and wellness.


One significant change is the importance employees place on the ethical approach of businesses. Factors such as how sustainable and how a business is have become front and centre.

This is not isolated to Gen Z employees, but employees throughout the workplace. We are far less accepting of companies which do harm either by action or inaction. We are now holding companies to a higher standard. This can be seen clearly from the reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine where companies have understood that they need to quickly think about the ethical decisions their business make because of the potential ramifications of how they might be perceived. Long term brand values are trumping short term profit.

Other factors at play

There are also a set of very practical factors which are causing employees to reconsider what they need from work. The cost of living is rising steeply and is compressing wages, with more workers bring pushed towards the poverty line and potential wage increases noy keeping track with inflation. Therefore, employees are not only making ideological choices but also making very practical choices as to whether the work they do is right for them.

Implications for business

This volume of volatility in the labour market creates both opportunities and challenges. It is also creating varied challenges for different industries, locations and roles.


We have seen significant shifts in the employer/employee relationship from the idea of jobs for life in the 20th Century to a position where employees are as discerning as your customers. Employees have, as a whole, moved to a mentality which asks what can I get out of this job and why are you as an organisation worthy of my time, effort and energy.

The good news for retailers is that similar approaches to those they naturally use to attract and retain customers and stand out from the competition are going to be needed to navigate “the great resignation”.


1. Start with data: it is very easy in HR to get swept along with the latest trend. However, the great resignation will impact businesses in very different ways and the impacts will not be the same across different locations and roles. Therefore, look at what “real information” is available to you. You should combine information from within your business as well as external sources of data. Consider quantifiable data but also qualitative date which will help provide context. By ensuring a sound understanding where you sit, the competition, the prevailing market conditions and any predictable future events/factors, you will be able to focus on the areas where you can really have an impact.

 

2. Keep you employees happy: it is far easier and more cost effective to keep the employees you have rather than replace them with new people.  You may think you know your people and what they want, however with the volume of change and volatility we have faced and are facing it is more important than ever to keep a dialogue open. Creating true value and engagement with your employees could be the key difference. Step back and evaluate how effectively your employee experience is. Get alongside your teams understand their perspectives. If needs be, bring in partners such as The People Experience Hub to help you. In is impossible to be an expert in every area of HR so supplementing your team with great external partners is a great strategy.

 

3. Create reasons to stay: employees will leave businesses for a wide variety of reasons so minimising these is key. Engaging with your teams will have identified areas you need to focus on but ensuring you have considered the followings will help.


  • Flexible working – how effectively are you allowing your employees to balance their work and non-work lives
  • Being ethical – are you employees able to believe in and align themselves to your business, its mission and values
  • Mutual support – are you engaged and addressing employees through challenges such as the cost of living crisis
  • A place to grow – are you offering great development, support and career progression. Many skills and roles are becoming dated are trusted by your employees to keep them relevant


Learning and development and career progression are increasingly important to employees. The past few years have changed expectations of learning, many organisations have not kept pace with the market. Partnering with an organisation such as The Learning Effect can help ensure you have a learning strategy in place with works for your business and your people.

 

4. Retain knowledge: it is inevitable that employees will choose to leave your business. Preplanning for this event is good business practice. Knowing where your key risks are and working to mitigate these should be a collaborative cross business exercise. Losing key knowledge, skills and relationships can derail a business. Build approaches which ensure that skills, processes and knowledge are owned by your business rather than individuals who work for the business.

 

5. Attract the right people: knowing the skills you need and the business and where you stand in the market will help you quickly and effectively replace people you have lost or recruit for new roles. Work to understand your true strengths and value. For example careers in retail have the potential to offer unrivalled experience and career progression, the opportunity to be innovative and creative, great job satisfaction and a flexible and supportive work environment. Playing to these strengths will make you stand out from the crowd.


A great employee attraction campaign can be let down by the basics. What is it like to apply to work for your business? This is a customer journey you should understand inside out. When did you last apply for a job with your business?


If certain roles or locations or roles have specific skills shortages there are further steps you can take. Find out more about
“Strategic approaches to skills shortages”

 

6. Help people belong: once you have gone to the effort of attracting new people helping them settle should be your priority. This is another experience you need to really understand. How well do your onboarding and induction processes work. Are you able to get people up to speed quickly, build their confidence and become valuable members of the team.


Cutting corners on these processes can be tempting, particularly where you are already short staffed. However, not giving new starters the time, support and input needed will almost certainly make the problems far worse.

 

7. Keep adapting: there appears to be one certainty at the moment, it is that it is getting harder and harder to predict the future. With this in mind successful HR teams need to remain agile. Take the steps outlined in this article and adapt so they fit your business and then use them as a told to continually evaluate what your business needs and where you should be expending your time, energy and efforts.

The past two years has allowed HR teams to show what a vital role they can play in the success of their business. This has created an opportunity for you to achieve an even greater impact as we navigate the great resignation and whatever comes next.  

What challenges are front and centre for your business? Please let us know, we are working on a series of articles providing practical advice and support on topical HR challenges and your feedback will help ensure these are relevant to you.

James Poletyllo
Director, The Learning Effect

Katie Godden
Director, The Learning Effect
LinkedIn

About us:
The Learning Effect was created by Katie Godden and James Poletyllo in 2019.
Our aim is to help you create purposeful, effective learning experiences which allow your people to realise their potential and for you to deliver your business goals. 
We have over 35 years combined in-house experience of leading learning projects and transformations. Having walked the walk, we understand the challenges learning teams face. Using this experience combined with our extensive knowledge of the learning tech market, we work with you to develop innovative solutions which really work.

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