Odds are your newsfeed has been cluttered with mentions of the Great Resignation. So you must be dying to read more about it. To satisfy your thirst for this great topic, we’ve addressed some pressing questions. To start, what even is the great resignation? Just kidding, you probably already know that a bunch of people are quitting their jobs. In fact, a record number of 4.4 million US workers quit their jobs in September alone.
The real question is, have we learned anything from this? With the new year underway, what can companies do to address this? What does the future hold? And, if you’re amongst the potential resignees, what can you do before quitting?
We sat down with Tara Lockyer, ATB Financial’s Chief People Officer, and got the scoop. And by sat down, we do mean sat down in our respective home offices, in front of our computers, complete with small talk about working from home and cute pets in the background.
How does ATB do it?
First things first, who is ATB you ask? ATB is a financial institution and Crown corporation located in Alberta, Canada. With over 5,000 employees, ATB was recognized as the #3 best place to work in Canada. Safe to say they’re a pretty good example of a good place to work.
Tara tells us “ATB was already a highly flexible workplace, and when the pandemic hit, ATB went into superdrive. We experimented with creating virtual connections and ways of having fun. We’re also focusing on anticipating possible future outcomes. If we don’t go back to the office anytime soon, how do we solve for innovation? How do we achieve interpersonal connections?”
Jessica Twemlow, ATB’s director of communications, adds “everybody was keen to make those connections happen in a fun way. For example, you saw a lot of teams having virtual happy hours on Friday afternoons. But, as we continued in this state of virtual remote meetings, the novelty of that started to wear off because we were in meetings all day long. This forced us to get creative in how we connect. We've seen lots of teams coming up with different ways to collaborate, whether it be using jam boards with virtual sticky notes, or creating virtual communities on our social intranet.”
How can your company overcome the great resignation?
There’s no easy fix. Each company will face different challenges when it comes to its workforce resigning. It’s about finding out what employees want because it’s not always as simple as fair compensation and a couple of nice benefits. But there are a few easy-ish steps you can take.
Stop resignation with career development.
According to Tara, what organizations can do to keep employees is "to prioritize and offer opportunities for career development and growth. So aside from compensation, which interestingly enough isn’t the biggest driver of retention, people want the opportunity to learn, grow, stay relevant, and feel like they're developing in their careers. And that's the number one retention tool. Organizations finding ways to keep their entire workforce relevant and moving towards the future is a big driver for keeping employees.
Also, people don't leave companies. They leave managers. That one-on-one connection with your leader. Do they know me? Do they appreciate me? Do I feel like I'm growing and getting the feedback that I need? Great leadership is so critical during times like this.”
Or simply, resign away from not knowing your people.
Tara also stresses you should get to know your people: "The more you know about your people, and what's important to them, the more you can curate the employment value proposition for them. For some of your team members, flexibility might be super important. It could be development and growth. For others, it could be money. That being said, you can consider things like retention or end-of-project bonuses. If you know your team members and are tuned in with their emotions, and how they're showing up, then you know when it’s time to encourage people to take some time off or change up what they're working on. It all comes down to understanding your people: What makes each member tick and what they're going to need to be successful.”
Before you do the big quit, do this.
A report conducted by Happeo in 2021 found that 43% of managers intend to leave their company in the next 6 months. That’s right. Nearly half of managers are unhappy enough to leave their jobs.
If you’re one of these managers, or any employee contemplating jumping ship, Tara has a thought or two about what to do before handing in your resignation.
“First off, I would recommend just a little bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself: Why are you thinking of leaving? Is it because of job fit? Is it the company fit? Is it a manager fit? Those factors don't necessarily require a resignation. If it's a job fit, are there other opportunities in your organization that you might want to consider? If it's a manager fit, how do you communicate differently with that manager or maybe look for a different leader to work with? If it's the company fit, then that's a bigger issue. If you feel like you're misaligned with the values of the organization, that's a good reason to find a different job within an organization that’s a better fit.”
The great reshuffle.
According to Tara, we've changed the fabric of what employees expect from their employer, which is purpose-driven, high flex, and high-value work. She adds, “that's not going away. The pent-up demand that the pandemic created is going to slow down, but the expectations of the organization, and the employee value proposition for team members, have changed forever.”
And let’s not forget, the “office” is changed forever. We’ve already seen a shift in traditional offices with the rise of coworking. Now that the pandemic has shown the vast possibilities of remote work, we can anticipate an even more flexible working space. The primary need will no longer be providing a physical space to work, but one to collaborate and get some face-to-face interaction. That means fewer dedicated desks and more open spaces. In any case, hybrid work is here to stay.
How long will the great resignation last?
Well, wouldn’t we all like to know? Of course, there are already new trending topics, and this one will soon be forgotten. But will it ever end? Tara thinks not.
“I don't think this resignation is going to fully taper off. The workforce coming out of this is just going to be more fluid. Careers of 30 years have gone by the way of the Dodo bird. We have to be practical and ask ourselves, ‘is it bad if turnover goes up a little?’”
If you’re thinking this article is ending on a positive note, don’t think again, because you’re right!
“Employees leaving doesn’t matter as much as having the right people doing the right work for the right reasons. In reality, talent is going to move around. It's about making sure you've got the right people in your pipeline when they move on, as opposed to trying to fight. It feels like a fool's errand to just keep fighting the inevitable, especially when you can just embrace it and figure out how to make fluid talent work for your organization.”
Tara adds there’s nothing wrong with an employee staying “just” two years. If someone comes in, does an amazing job, and leaves after a few years, why should it be a bad thing? As long as it was a mutually beneficial relationship, an employee leaving shouldn’t exclusively be seen as a bad thing. And you never know, they might come back.
The great conclusion of this great article
The great resignation is helping shape the future of work. Companies can embrace this great change (last “great”, I promise!) and adapt to the current demand. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The resolution here is about finding the solutions that fit your culture and your people.