The Great Resignation: Is This an Opportunity for the Great Reflection?

October 7, 2021 Sara Harris, SHRM-SCP, Consulting Manager

great resignation

"Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful".    - Margaret J. Wheatly

If you have read anything in the past 60-90 days, whether it be in your favorite magazine, online articles or social media outlets, you have most likely seen reference to “The Great Resignation”. It’s the new buzz word used to define this next business phase in our post-pandemic world where people have either resigned or disengaged from the workplace to consider other options available to them now.

Yes – I understand we are not completely “post”-pandemic yet, but many businesses are struggling with how long to continue with remote or hybrid work forces, how to manage vaccine programs and coming mandates, while desperately seeking to re-engage teams and collaborate on ideas that will lead their organizations into 2022. Everyone is ready for a post-pandemic “normal” -- if that even exists.

While many businesses are back to full operations, employment has been anything but consistent. Many small businesses, retailers, and restaurants had to compete with unprecedented unemployment benefits, and found it very difficult to recruit and retain talent committed to serving their customers and businesses well. Then there is the voluntary movement within the overall workforce itself, AKA “The Great Resignation”. Recent Gallup polls show that 48% of the US workforce is actively seeking alternative employment opportunities. Actively seeking. Not just open if approached or recruited, actively seeking opportunities outside of their current employment. That’s nearly half of your organization!

Employees are accepting offers to make more money, experience career growth, or simply do something completely different than what they originally set out in their career path. The pandemic gave many an opportunity to sit back and reflect on what matters, how they want to spend their time, and where we place the most value. This has caused many to reassess career paths and true passions versus serving in their day-to-day paid position that has worked in the past.

It’s probably an opportune time to mention that I am a firm believer that people go in to work every day to contribute, perform well, and make a difference in their sphere of influence. So how people work and perform their jobs really matters. Also, how they are equipped, trained and developed to serve your customer matters. And how an organization keeps pace and adapts to change, leverages technology and process improvements to make work efficient, effective and more meaningful for their employees matters. How businesses engage and empower their team when it comes to employee retention is a major factor in maximizing employee engagement and satisfaction. It definitely matters!

 Is it a Time for Reflection?

This summer and into early fall, I have paused to think about how employers have reflected and responded to this “Great Resignation” and the season we find ourselves in. Similar to how individuals like you and I have looked inward and made adjustments, how are my clients and organizations in general moving forward and maximizing this opportunity to reflect and adjust?

How are you as a business owner, leader, operations manager, or contributor reflecting on ways you can change how the Great Resignation is going to impact your company or employer? Are there actions you can take at the leadership level that will reset the course you are on? Are you ready to solve a problem that has been put off for far too long, that ultimately contributed to turnover? When is it time to find better ways to deliver on the goods and services you provide to your customers and clients? I encourage business leaders to sit down and consider the customer’s perspective and experience your business is delivering in this post-pandemic environment.

Let’s try an activity.

  1. Think of a business you’ve recently visited where you did not have a great experience.
  2. Now take a moment to reflect on why it was not a good experience.  
  3. Was the negative experience related to the business’ people, process or product? (I’m a huge Marcus Lemonis fan – and I always go back to “Marcus’ 3 P’s of Business”)

Let me share my experience on a recent visit to a local outdoor venue. I walked away thinking, “gosh, that was so much fun, but so disorganized and employees were not trained well and seemed unhappy!” Here were some of my take-aways:

  • The process from the initial website reservation to the time of checking-in for an activity was confusing and inconsistent. I’ve been there on several occasions and it’s different each time.
  • Employees were not trained, and while placed at the front desk/check-in area, did not know basic information to answer questions or how to complete tasks assigned to that area.
  • There was a lack of overall process in getting to the activity. People at the check-in desks gave different instructions than the people that were taking us through the activity. There was just a general disconnect or information gap between employee groups.
  • I saw a lack of teamwork between employees – from one hustling to get snack-bar orders out and refilling fountain drinks, to a bartender sitting 3 feet away overseeing an empty bar top while playing on her phone
  • There were parts of the venue that were just dirty. Unnecessarily dirty, and there’s not much else to say about that.

I walked away from my afternoon at this venue having had a ton of fun with the activities themselves, but my overall experience was “just ok.” And let me clarify – we had no issue with the “product” – the fun that we ultimately had…our issue was around the clunky processes leading up to the activities and the general lack of knowledge or engagement from employees. So no raving fan review on Google, Expedia or Yelp; and honestly it wasn’t worth logging on and leaving a negative review either, because we did have fun.

So here is where this experience landed, as an example in an article on self-reflecting as a business.

Back to The Great Resignation

Do you think your customers or clients have had similar experiences with your business? Where do you have opportunities to elevate your organization, and what is holding you back from moving forward in these areas you reflect on?

How about your employees? Are they trained and equipped with the right tools and technology to meet customer expectations? Are your managers and leaders empowered to reflect, innovate and improve the operations and customer experience? Are managers and leaders developing internal team members, maximizing team skill sets and engaging employees in defining solutions for the business?

I believe that employee retention significantly increases when employees are valued, developed and engaged to do more. The challenge is that employers, and managers especially, have to be ready to teach, train, listen and lead improvement initiatives so that people can be more effective and efficient in how they perform their work. Processes don’t stand still: new technologies, increase in customer expectations, keeping up with business trends; companies have to empower their employees to grow and support the evolving business and customer experience. Actions have to support the words coming from the top, and employees must see movement and results that impact their day to day work to experience and appreciate an evolving work environment that can still provide a high level of self-satisfaction. It’s a challenge in today’s workplace, but the alternative involves higher turnover, increased costs for recruiting new employees, decrease in morale, and rebuilding teams to get back to whatever “normal” looks like for your organization.  

We Want to Help.

Our Advisory Services team is conducting a limited number of “HT Spot Assessments” through the end of this year. Our team is comprised of Financial, HR, Operations, Technology and Business Valuation Advisors. Depending on your organization’s industry, size, goods and services, we will send an appropriate team or duo to conduct a Spot Assessment and provide you with feedback regarding our customer experience with your organization. To learn more about how to engage our team for a Spot Assessment, fill out the form below.

Request a Spot Assessment

HoganTaylor’s Human Capital Strategies Practice

If you have any questions about this content, or if you would like more information about HoganTaylor’s Advisory practice, please contact the author of this article, Sara Harris, or Jeff Wilkie, Human Capital and Organizational Strategies Practice Leader. More information is also available on the Human Capital Strategies page of this website.

INFORMATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY. This content is for informational purposes only. This content does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon by you or any third party, including to operate or promote your business, secure financing or capital in any form, obtain any regulatory or governmental approvals, or otherwise be used in connection with procuring services or other benefits from any entity. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with professional advisors.

Share This:

10 Human Capital Questions to Consider

It's important for employers to regularly conduct a human resources (HR) analysis of their policies and practices. Download our 10 question checklist to see whether you might need an assessment.