by D&E Staff

November 18, 2021

The Great Resignation combined with an intense labor shortage has created unprecedented talent issues in the United States. In September alone, a record-high 4.4 million people, or 3% of workers, quit their job according to the Labor Department’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Organizations that previously received hundreds of applications for a single position are now receiving only a handful.

How can organizations navigate this latest wave of extreme change caused by the pandemic? How can they retain and engage strong employees? How can they stand out among a sea of organizations recruiting for talent?

The following four steps provide a roadmap for navigating the Great Resignation.

1. Identify causes of stress or uncertainty for employees and take action

Are your employees burnt out? Is your organization understaffed? Has a personal situation changed and there’s not enough flexibility?

Actively listening and talking with employees can help determine the greatest sources of stress and uncertainty. Consider conducting a pulse survey with a representative group of employees or an anonymous all-associate survey. Based on the results, talk with your HR and senior leadership teams. Focus on having transparent, productive conversations to identify and discuss causes.

As you and your teams brainstorm possible solutions, prioritize employee groups that may be experiencing higher levels of stress and uncertainty as well as the root cause. While your organization may not be able to solve all issues, or do so quickly, work on making a difference where you can.

2. Continue frequent and transparent communications (or start ASAP)

At the pandemic’s outset, many companies began communicating with greater frequency, transparency and empathy. As organizations continue to navigate significant changes due to the Great Resignation and labor shortages, these communications must continue. And if your organization isn’t communicating, get started as soon as possible.

This is particularly important as your organization implements previously planned changes such as restructuring, new system implementations, etc. You’ll need more time and resources to make these changes successful. As associates leave or join the organization, think about how projects will be impacted and communicate any changes clearly so that work can continue to move forward.

3. Show appreciation and value, especially in a hybrid environment

Employees at all levels – from senior leaders to managers, supervisors to individual contributors and front-line workers – want to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work. With the labor shortage, many companies are recruiting new talent with signing bonuses and additional perks – and existing employees are noticing.

Make sure your organization is sharing the love with current employees, too. A simple thank you can make a positive impact. If you have the ability, consider surprising employees with some extra time off or a bonus.

Nike and Spanx recently made headlines with notable employee recognition initiatives. Nike provided its head office employees a week off to support mental health. Spanx surprised employees with two, first-class plane tickets to anywhere in the world along with $10,000 to spend on the trip.

While those extravagant examples certainly aren’t the norm and aren’t plausible for most organizations, a small reward can go a long way. For example, consider providing lunches or snacks and encourage employees to socialize with colleagues. With rising gas and grocery prices, another option would be to offer gift cards.

4. Make your recruiting efforts count

Recruitment is more important now than ever. Make sure your organization has a compelling and differentiating value proposition, and that your recruiting materials clearly communicate it. Ensure your outreach is as targeted as possible to attract and retain strong candidates.

At a time when every industry is experiencing change and uncertainty, communication and employee appreciation are key. To best support your staff and recruit new talent, it is important to provide support, pay attention, listen and adapt.

Want to discuss how your organization can navigate the Great Resignation? Contact Dix & Eaton’s change management practice leader Karin Bonev!