[BLOG] The Great Resignation: What, Who, When, Why and How to Overcome

Nov 30th, 2021
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The Great Resignation has come to define the business world in 2021. Since April, more than 19 million workers—and counting—have left their jobs in the US, leading to a historic labor shortage. That doesn’t look to change soon: according to the Bureau of Labor Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021, and an additional 4.3 million in August. And this attrition is not confined to the United States. A report from Microsoft states that some 40% of the global workforce have quit or are considering quitting their current jobs.

In the wake of these trends, many companies are looking for quick-fix solutions to “get back to normal” as fast as possible. That can include easy, but purely transactional perks such as higher pay or quarterly bonuses. Instead of simply throwing an additional benefit on the pile, smart companies are listening to their employees’ genuine needs and ensuring they get met.

Employees Want Interactions, Not Just Transactions


The events of the past 18 months led to an awakening of sorts. Employees—strained to the limits and often exhausted—are looking for something more from their work than simply pay. Certainly, a decent salary and good benefits are enticing, but beyond that, they want to feel their organizations care about them and are invested in their experience.

Company leaders who can’t do that—and who can’t address issues such as work flexibility and autonomy—will find themselves at a disadvantage in the current business environment. Indeed, watching peers leave a company can readily induce other employees to leave as well, creating a cascading effect whereby the business loses rank-and-file members at an alarming rate. Hence the Great Resignation we’re currently facing.

Businesses that seize the moment can attract and retain the kind of talent that can do great things for them. That means approaching employees with greater empathy and understanding and providing the flexibility to meet their needs—while still being able to do their jobs in a timely and productive manner. That, in turn, helps them feel more connected to the company, increasing loyalty and employee retention in the bargain.

Help Employees Feel Valued or Watch Them Walk


More than ever, employees need to feel like the company values them. This is especially true when it comes to younger employees, who make desirable long-term hires. Millennials— accounting for over one-third of the current US workforce—are three times more likely to quit a company they don’t feel is treating them fairly.

Those who feel their work has purpose and value tend to be more productive than those who don’t... it’s that simple. They also tend to feel healthier and happier, as well as being more likely to stay in a position longer. That synergy becomes self-reinforcing, promoting strong loyalty and interpersonal ties as well as productivity.

Research by McKinsey suggests that managers aren’t listening enough to their people. Don’t be one of them. “Talk ‘with’ your employees, not ‘at’ them,” says Elise Freedman, leader of Korn Ferry’s Workforce Transformation Team.

Turning the Great Resignation Into Retention


The first step in planning to address this issue is to refrain from immediate, impulsive actions or adopting a heavy-handed approach. For example, simply ordering people back to the office is likely to backfire, particularly when employees can do their jobs just as effectively from home. Proper planning followed by smart integrations can produce much better results.

However, employees need to be involved in the process. That means allowing them to contribute, listening to their ideas, and discussing what they need with them rather than what the company expects of them.

Asking yourself the following questions will help to lay a solid foundation.

  • Do we have the right people in the right places (especially managers)?
  • How strong was our culture before the pandemic?
  • Is our work environment transactional?
  • Are our benefits aligned with employee priorities?
  • Employees want career paths and development opportunities. Can we provide those?
  • How are we building a sense of community?
  • How are we managing employee burnout?

Many of the benefits workers seek can be achieved or made easier by adopting a hybrid work system, whereby employees come into work some days and stay home on others. The specific schedule depends on the individual needs of the worker in question and can vary from person to person. New ways of thinking about office space, work hours, and the use of remote connectivity tools such as Zoom are required to keep team members in touch. That connectivity can facilitate the exact kind of hybrid workplace that attracts and retains talented people for your company.

Smarten Spaces is a leading provider of digital hybrid workplace solutions to help organizations seamlessly transition into a hybrid workspace. Our features are designed to facilitate collaboration from team members anywhere at any time. Smarten Spaces employs groundbreaking AI-based technology to create a flexible hybrid work environment with reliable, ease-of-access, and the ability to tailor them to your company’s and regulatory requirements.

This includes:

  • THE WORLD’S FIRST HYBRID SCHEDULER – Empower managers and employees to build work-from-home and work-from-office flexible schedules with AI-based recommendations for improved collaboration.
  • DESK BOOKING – Reserve hot desks in real-time with visibility into desk amenities and seat assignments. Find your way to a desk and search for a colleague or team. View colleagues' working location, whether they’re in-office or working from home.
  • WORKPLACE EXPERIENCE APP – Provide a connected digital workplace experience for customers, employees, vendors, and visitors on a single workplace platform including desk booking, meeting room scheduling, locker, parking, and amenity booking, access control, visitor management, and more from one app.
  • EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT – Create a digital workplace community on the Workplace Experience app to promote events, activities, news and surveys.
  • WORKPLACE HEALTH & SAFETY – Ensure employee health and safety with digital social distancing, health assessments, vaccination uploads and approvals, contact tracing, occupancy control, and smart sanitization.
  • SMART CAFETERIA – Order and pay for food through the workplace app. View live menus and wait times. Purchase food with multiple payment options. Receive status updates and notifications.
  • SERVICE REQUESTS – Create and monitor Service Requests from the App including IT, Help Desk, Emergency Services, Catering, and more. Automatically generate requests to sanitize used space.
  • 80+ OUT-OF-THE-BOX INTEGRATIONS – Prebuilt integrates with existing systems and devices including Active Directory, Okta, SSO, Outlook, Gmail, Zoom, Teams, people counting, environment monitoring, IoT, BMS, and more.

Conclusion: Overcoming the Great Resignation


Across the world, people are reevaluating their lives, their work, and their relationships. In today's volatile labor market, smart leaders and HR managers must ensure their employee recruitment and retention processes are fortified to avoid, as one commentator noted, “being left captaining a ship without a crew.” Leaders who are committed to turning the Great Resignation into the Great Retention must develop a deep understanding of employees’ evolving needs and fuse that understanding with the commitment to act and change.

With most people working from home (and in order to stay competitive in a global talent market), organizations that do not invest in a more fulfilling employee experience and who fail to meet demands for flexibility at work will find employees voting with their feet. With technology enabling people to work anywhere, anytime the digital workspace has been touted as an emerging ‘fourth space.’ A new, hybrid work environment gives workers more flexibility to handle all of the things that matter in their lives, as well as be productive in their jobs.

As a leading provider of hybrid workplace solutions, Smarten Spaces’ solutions can be swiftly integrated into your existing systems and can help you get quickly up to speed on your hybrid workspace, as well as letting you manage and maintain it over the long term.

Schedule a demonstration today and discover how we can Smarten your Spaces!