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The Great Resignation: Hold on to the Talent You Have, and Attract the Talent You Want

The genie is out of the bottle, and we are not putting it back in. As post-pandemic life begins to take hold, people are leaving their jobs in search of more money, more flexibility, and more happiness. Many are reconsidering what work means to them, the value they offer to their employers, and what they do with their free time. What you may have forgotten is there was a talent shortage before Covid-19 hit. Covid camouflaged it, but as we move out of the pandemic, the concealment moved away, re-exposing a lack of talent that has not been seen in this scope in the last 20 years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “among the unemployed, the number of “job leavers” – unemployed persons who quit or voluntarily left their previous job and began looking for new employment —increased by 164,000 to 942,000 in June of 20211 .” It’s also estimated that anywhere from 30-40% of employed individuals are considering leaving their jobs.


Pandemic uncertainty may have previously caused people to fear moving to a new employer. As pandemic restrictions ease and opportunities continue to evolve, people will feel more comfortable with change. Some of those people are retiring, some may go on their own, but the majority will go to another organization. While this may be seen as a negative to many, there are potential upsides as company leadership continues to grapple with post-pandemic recovery and return-to-office decisions.

How do companies benefit from this “Turnover Tsunami”?

Companies that can retain the talent they currently have and attract talent wanting to make a change will not only succeed in the coming years but excel. But how do you accomplish both these objectives at the same time?

First, stop focusing on retention and recruiting as separate, unrelated functions.

They are not. Let’s look at why these terms are interconnected and five things you can do to capitalize on the “turnover tsunami”.

  1. Understand the needs of your employees and how well those needs are being met.
    While the needs of employees may be different from company to company, in general, according to the Intégro Leadership Institute, there are five intrinsic needs shared by virtually all employees. Their “Passion Pyramid” lays out five critical components (aka needs) that create, if met, not only engaged; but also passionate team members who care about the organization for which they work. Critical to retention, employees need to feel respected, have growth opportunities, be an involved insider, do meaningful work, and be on a winning team. And a culture that accomplishes these things will also attract new talent.

    The piece of the puzzle leaders must then solve is how to obtain the information they need in a way that allows for honesty without the fear of repercussions. Interviews are one way to do this, but they are not anonymous, they are not standardized (allows for bias), and they take time for staff to conduct them. Standardized surveys give you a more accurate way to ask questions that get at the real issues and keep people from just saying, “everything is fine.” We use the Employee Passion Survey to help organizations measure how well the intrinsic needs of employees are being met, identify what portion of talented employees you may be at risk of losing, and develop strategies for more effectively meeting these needs and retaining high-performing team members.
  2. Ensure leaders and managers have the mindset and skills to engage and motivate employees.
    Analytics and advisory company Gallop found that 70% of the difference in performance between departments is related to managers. “And teams that have talented managers realize a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity and a 30% increase in employee engagement scores”2. They are also vital in terms of maintaining and retaining your staff. The question to ask yourself is how good your managers are at meeting the five needs mentioned above and how well they can interact and engage. the great resignation: hold on to the talent you have, and attract the talent you want 1Conducting a 360-degree assessment is one of the best ways to do that. This assessment allows employees, direct reports, peers, and sometimes customers to provide feedback on several points that determine a leader’s strengths and opportunities for growth. We use a tool called Checkpoint 360 and Everything DiSC 363 for Leaders. Both are excellent 360-degree analysis tools. Another method is to conduct a Flexibility and Trust Survey. This survey examines two aspects critical to be a high-performing leader: interpersonal flexibility and interpersonal trust. The goal of which is to create an environment where employees can perform at the highest level.
  3. Flexibility is key to success. It’s not all about the money.
    If you think hiring bonuses and increased salaries is all you need to retain your best employees and attract top talent, it is time to reconsider. Money can be an incentive in the short run. The problem is it has a short half-life and does not create a competitive advantage that can be maintained over time. People want flexibility, autonomy, and control, and the pandemic has exasperated this desire. Some of the largest companies in the world, including Microsoft, Amazon, and American Express are all contemplating and moving towards either long-term remote work or a hybrid approach. If the pandemic did one thing, it proved it can work. Flexibility leads to a sense of autonomy and control. If you are looking for a competitive advantage in terms of retention, you’ve found it.

    However, flexible work environments are more than a retention tool; they also increase the size of the talent pool. Hiring is no longer limited by geography. Allowing people to work remotely will mean leaders have to be more flexible in their approach and more intentional in building culture and teams. Still, those who can do this will have a competitive advantage in retaining and attracting top talent.
  4. Be open to hiring less experienced candidates.
    In theory, hiring an experienced employee is the easiest and fastest solution to filling an open position. In some cases, that theory is correct. Experienced team members can fast track into their new role, ramping up quickly and bring the expertise needed in their given field. These people, of course, come with a higher price tag and may be in short supply. People from larger entities going to a smaller one may assume they can do things the same as the large company. Some might even bring poor work habits — which subordinates can pick up. The key is not necessarily in the experience they have but in knowing in attributes that make them effective in their role.

    Less experienced individuals brought on board to meet not only the current but also the future needs of your company may be a great option. They may not come with the bad habits mentioned above, nor the preconceived notions and baggage associated with how to work for an organization. Coaching and training may take more time, and rookie mistakes may happen along the way, but the capacity for learning new skills, the hunger to succeed, and aptitude can rapidly be made up for lack of experience. With the right coaching and development, new employees can grow into the position – helping you build your workforce the right way and with the right people. The challenge is gaining some understanding of the individual’s capabilities, aptitude to do the job, and whether it is the right fit for the position. We use the PXT Hiring Assessment to help determine if employees are likely to excel in a role. The assessment helps organizations determine if a potential candidate has the propensity to do the job even if they don’t have specific experience in a similar role.
    Hiring with less experience is not necessarily less costly since you must train them, but in a time when skilled labor is short, it is where this strategy can become a competitive advantage. Assessments take the guesswork out of hiring and instead measure the candidate’s propensity to do the job.
  5. Coaching and development are needed to enable people to perform to their full potential.
    As mentioned above, the Integro Leadership Institute identifies the needs of employees beyond salaries and bonuses. Just as all humans have a hierarchy of needs, employees also have five basic needs in the workplace. When those needs are met, employees are engaged in their work and passionate about their organization. Passion and engagement lead to retention. Many companies talk about, measure, and evaluate employee engagement, but that’s not enough. Meeting these five employee needs provides them with the respect they desire, the ability to grow and learn, offers the opportunity to progress and be an insider. Individuals looking to change jobs will also be attracted to an environment that meets their needs and provides an opportunity for growth.

    It is important to note that personal growth requires a plan. Plans have goals, and goals have steps. Those steps can be measured to provide employees a sense of progress, a sense of autonomy, a sense of growth, and an understanding of their impact work.

How well is your organization positioned to capitalize on the “great resignation”?

The fact is the mold has been broken. Two things, in particular, are here to stay: Flexible work and a shift in the talent landscape. If your organization has not woken up to this new age, you may have a brewing problem on your hands. The pandemic has enabled a disruption that will continue, but just know that you are not alone. Leaders are learning as they go.

Companies must do more than look at starting bonuses and increased wages if they are going to recruit and retain top talent. Don’t get me wrong, salaries may need to increase, and bonuses may be needed to attract talent, but doing this alone does not create a competitive advantage or equip your organization for this new future.

Let’s challenge ourselves to take this current trend and turn it into an opportunity. We want to help. I’ve been working with companies, both large and small, to help prepare them for a future of growth and prosperity. For more information or support with any of the above points, feel free to contact us.


1. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf
2. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/272171/why-manager-development-top-goal-leaders-year.aspx

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