The Great Resignation

Understanding the Great Resignation of 2021: What Leaders and Consultants are Getting Wrong

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Joe bragged about berating a hotel desk agent for a problem with his room. “He was worthless to me. I yelled at him. He yelled back at me and then walked out — quit on the spot.” He won’t be worthless to any more customers, joked Joe.

“I don’t care about employee turnover,” Lisa, a restaurant owner, told me, “There’s always another body waiting to fill the job. I’m a tough employer with high standards. If they can’t hack it, I’m happy to show them the door.”

Joe and Lisa are otherwise decent people whose sense of entitlement and inability to handle chronic stress have made them into monsters. It’s no wonder that roughly 46 million Americans left their jobs in 2021 — the so-called Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Employee turnover plus high inflation are going to eviscerate small businesses in 2022. Turnover can cost up to 2X an employee’s annual salary. Replacing one $50k employee is likely to cost you at least that much due to factors such as recruiting, time costs, lost momentum, and rebuilding relationships, among others.

If you lost ten such employees per year, you’ve just thrown $500k or more down the drain.

People don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers. COVID has lowered people’s tolerance for bad bosses and crappy work environments. They vote with their feet more quickly to find a better place. Hence, The Great Reshuffle.

The Great Resignation

Add in the inflation costs, and you can see why low-margin businesses with high employee turnover rates are at high-risk next year.

Employers are turning to workplace gimmicks to attract and keep employees. No one ever stayed with a rotten boss for a bag of trail mix or a free yoga mat.

What can you do to keep your top talent engaged and on the job?

1. Custom-fit roles to people’s natural strengths (a.k.a. affinities or superpowers). The skill-fixation has perverted the hiring process and locked people into high-skill, low-superpower roles. Their energy drains faster, leading to frustration, burnout, and the need to find more challenging work. For a great starting point to identifying your superpowers, take our PROM (TM) Leader Archetype quiz. You may be surprised at your results.

2. Train your first-line leaders and middle managers. Most companies have programs for senior leaders but neglect their junior leaders, creating a trust gap at the employee-management interface. Very few junior and mid-level leaders have had good exemplars. Too many companies are on quicksand. Jeff Marquez and Laura Colbert help you strengthen these vital foundations. Junior and mid-level leader training rank among the best low-cost, high-payoff actions you can take in 2022.

3. Increase front-line agency. Give people the latitude and resources to solve problems at the lowest possible levels. This practice lowers the probability of unhappy, stressed-out customers like Joe taking it out on your employees and damaging their emotional well-being. The serotonin boost they get from solving problems will put them on an emotional high. Joe might even become less of a jerk.

In the musical chairs game of the Great Reshuffle, the best employees will find the best-led teams. You will get the virtuous cycle of the top talent coming to and staying with your company.

Are you leading at your very best?

What action steps will you take to make 2022 your best year?

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