Her job was to sell a product, and she was good at it. This sales manager was on top of her world for the past decade. Then, after a global pandemic, a different type of pandemic hit the workforce, and her world was completely disrupted!
“The Great Resignation,” a term coined by Texas A&M associate professor of management Anthony Klotz, is the descriptive name given to the phenomenon of the voluntary mass exodus of people from the workforce. Consider a survey conducted by Zippia, an online recruitment platform that connects employers and job seekers. Their research shows an unprecedented disruption:
- On average, 4 million Americans are quitting their jobs each month in 2022.
- In August 2022, at least 2 million Americans quit their jobs.
- The month with the most American resignations was November 2021, when a whopping 5 million quit their jobs.
- Throughout 2021, an average of 98 million workers left their jobs every month.
- Over 47 million Americans left their jobs by the end of 2021.
- 40% of employees are considering leaving their jobs within the next three to six months in 2022.
As a 21st-century leader going through “The Great Resignation,” what do you do to thrive and survive this unprecedented disruption in the workforce? Successful 21st-century organizations understand they must attract, onboard, retain, train, and develop their talent as they lead through the disruptive Great Resignation.
There are myriad options for attracting the best talent to your organization. The question isn’t necessarily how you should attract them but who you want to attract. Attracting the right talent requires your organization to have a clear set of values that answers the question, “How will we behave?”
Research published by recruiting firm TalentTrust stated, “Who you hire, especially for those experiencing employee dissatisfaction and turnover, is just as important to your company brand as the products and services you sell. This means seeking out values in others that your company culture also espouses in order to best carry out your mission. Those individuals who, by nature, share a company’s core values are most likely to make happy and fulfilled employees who foster community and stewardship, and who ultimately help drive achievement.”
Additionally, when attracting talent, consider generational differences. The way you attracted your “Boomer” executives (Born 1946-1964) will not be the same way to attract your current Gen X (1965-1980) or future Millennial (1980-2000) leaders. Each generation can bring value to the organization. However, what competencies does your organization need to achieve its future vision?
When you find the right talent that is in alignment with your values and future vision, organizations must have a deliberate and effective onboarding program. The purpose of onboarding programs is to integrate and assimilate new employees into the culture and norms of an organization quickly and effectively. Consider the alternative points made by Lorman, a leading provider of online training and continuing education for professionals and organizations. Their research showed:
- Organizations with poor onboarding processes are twice as likely to experience employee turnover.
- 70% of employees would be somewhat likely to leave their current job to work for an organization that invests in employee development and learning.
Onboarding cannot be left to the HR department alone. Onboarding must be a function developed, led, and implemented by leaders. Consider how your organization might have an overall onboarding program that provides an overview of the entire company and how each department can go into greater detail about onboarding for each new employee.
Now that you have the right talent “on the bus” and in the “right seat,” retaining them is essential. What actions do your leaders take to ensure they retain their top talent? How do you create an environment where employees want to come to work? This is where leaders at all levels must be engaged to ensure they communicate expectations to new employees, understand their aspirations, and develop a Measurable Action Plan (MAP). This work will help employees feel like they are part of a team that cares about them and can be part of something bigger than themselves. Other questions to consider regarding retention:
- What motivates each employee?
- How will your company help achieve work-life balance?
- What are your expectations of them?
- What factors will create job satisfaction?
Retention starts on day one—not at the exit interview!
Employees will stay longer with an organization that provides opportunities to grow. Consider again the Lorman research that stated:
- 86% of Millennials would be kept from leaving their current position if their employer offered training and development.
- Over 70% of high-retention-risk employees will leave their company to advance their careers.
- Retention rates rise 30-50% for companies with strong learning cultures.
Who in your organization is responsible for the training of employees? Do you separate the “corporate” training from specific departmental training? How is your training aligned with the future vision and goals of the organization? How is training creating experts in their respective roles?
After employees have been with a company for several years, their leaders must assess their potential for future leadership positions and advancement. You might ask, what’s the difference between training and development? In my 30+ years of leadership experience, I have concluded that training is for your current role and development is for a future role. With that in mind, what developmental opportunities does your organization offer current or potential leaders? What outside experts might you need to partner with to assist you in developing your next generation of leaders? 56% of human resources managers consider training and development essential to business, 67% of Gen X leaders want more external coaching, and 57% of Gen X leaders want external development.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” How has the Great Resignation disrupted your organization? How might attracting the right talent and onboarding them effectively increase your employee retention? How might the best training for current employees and future development of leaders preserve your business legacy? If you’re unsure, the steps outlined above can get you started.