How to Keep Employees from Joining the ‘Great Resignation’

by Jeanet Wade

As the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic, workers are noticing something.

This is an opportune time to change jobs — and so they are. Millions of employees are quitting their jobs and some businesses are struggling to find replacements.

Bosses who wonder why this is happening may need to look inward, says Jeanet Wade, the ForbesBooks author of The Human Team: So, You Created a Team But People Showed Up!.

“We just experienced some huge, nearly universal, shifts in the human experience,” says Wade, founder of the consulting firm Business Alchemist. “People are realizing just how much they need to feel seen and heard and to make meaningful contributions. And at the same time, they’re realizing, ‘I’m not valued. No one cares about me.’”

Wade adds, “Unfortunately, leaders and managers often spend their time and attention — their consideration — on the wrong people. We waste time on toxic or poor-performing people and not enough time showing consideration for our stars.”

Sometimes the neglect causes those top performers to become complacent and they are no longer such great performers, she says. In other cases, they become fed up and, when given the opportunity to bolt, they take advantage of it.

That’s likely what’s happening right now with what some people are calling the “Great Resignation,” Wade says.

But there’s an opportunity here for businesses to begin doing things differently, both in the way they hire people and the way they manage them once they are on board, she says.

For example, some job fairs — virtual and in-person — are seeing low turnout or no turnout, which is not as puzzling as it at first might seem, Wade says. A job fair is a poor venue for people who are searching for evidence that their next employer will value them.

“Who wants to go to a job fair?” Wade asks. “It’s not a human experience. It’s a cattle call. I want to go to a ‘you-value-me’ fair.”

Wade offers a few tips for businesses worried that their best employees will hastily break away from the organization at the first opportunity:

  • Find the right incentives. Leaders and managers often try to retain talent by offering bonuses, enhanced compensation plans and stock options. What they find is that money alone can’t compensate for an undesirable work situation. “It’s nice to get extra money and financial perks, but that won’t keep a star in your company orbit,” Wade says. “When it comes to retaining our stars and helping them shine on our teams and organizations, non-cash incentives ranging from high fives to handwritten notes to elaborate displays of appreciation will go a lot further. After all, we’ve all experienced that special feeling of consideration — appreciation, respect and high regard — and it was wonderful. That’s because we all have a human need to be recognized and valued; when that feeling is fulfilled, something deep within us is fulfilled.”
  • Know your employees. Sure, supervisors know the names of the people who report to them and have a good take on their performance. But it’s important to drill deeper if you want to understand what motivates them, Wade says. “You need to know them as a whole person,” she says. Everyone, after all, is multifaceted with both professional and personal aspects to their lives. The more you understand the employees, the better your relationship with them will be, and the more valued they will feel.
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings. When you set up regular individual meetings with employees, with no agenda in mind other than to listen to what they have to say, they know they are being heard and their perspectives considered, Wade says.
  • Make yourself available. Leaders should not spend all their time hidden away in their offices, avoiding routine interaction and emerging only to give instructions. Make yourself available to all team members on a regular basis, Wade says. Take time to walk around different areas of the business, making yourself present.

“It takes consistency, time and attention to do these things,” Wade says, “but that’s the mark of a great company.”

Jeanet Wade, the ForbesBooks author of The Human Team: So, You Created a Team But People Showed Up, is an Expert EOS Implementer® and the founder of the consulting firm the Business Alchemist. As a facilitator, teacher and coach, Wade helps companies implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a set of business concepts, principles and tools that help business owners and executives run more successful businesses.

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