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You picked a fine time to leave me…

Like the start of every day, my radio clicked on to the local news and I learned that two of my favorite restaurants would not be opening their dining rooms due to staffing shortages.  Later, as I scrolled through my LinkedIn feed, it seemed that every other was looking to fill roles at their respective organizations.  I guess what the analysts and influencers are saying is true, ‘The Great Resignation’ is really happening.  But why? And where are these people going?  Big companies, small companies, every size in between, and across all industries (Although the hospitality industry has been especially hard hit!).  Everyone’s looking for people.

According to the US Labor Department, a record


people quit their jobs in April 2021.

The pandemic’s silver lining

If there’s a silver lining to the craziness of living through a global pandemic, for many people it’s given them the gift of time and reflection.  Time to think.  Time to take stock of what’s important.  Time to figure out what they want to be when they grow up – especially those of us who are old enough to know such things.  While some have taken up gardening and baking as a distraction, many have decided to make wholesale changes in their careers. Essentially, this extended ‘pause’ we’ve lived through has forced people to live their lives very differently and re-evaluate how they want to live their lives going forward.

Everyone has a different reason for leaving an organization, and in some cases, there is nothing an organization can do to prevent it.  But, as a manager, did you see any signs that your employee was planning their departure?  If you did know, did you have a sense of what it would have taken to convince them to stay?  Would you be comfortable having that conversation with your employee?  Would they be comfortable having that conversation with you?   At the end of the day, you want to hold onto your best employees.

Employee Experience is not one-size-fits-all – Personalize it!

Not all employee experiences are created equally.  When you think of the experience of a front-line worker vs. knowledge worker, their ‘perfect experience’ will look very different.  It’s safe to say that in today’s environment, a front-line worker may be energized by reward, recognition and maybe a bonus day off; where knowledge workers may appreciate being able to choose whether to work at home, in the office, or a hybrid approach.

The best employee experience is unique to each person.  As a manager, do you know what motivates of each of your team?  Have you ever asked them?  Have you asked them how they are doing?  Do you ask for feedback and model good behavior?  As you look in the rear-view mirror, are there things you could have done differently to engage your team?  The good news is, there are tools that can support you.  Virtual gift cards for rewards and recognition, integrated rewards with collaboration software, applications to facilitate and document formal and informal conversations with employees.  And of course, the ubiquitous video conferencing solutions that we’ve developed a love/hate relationship over the last year.  You’d be surprised what you can learn about a person by seeing their expressions.

Need to rehire? Don’t settle.

There are cases that despite doing everything right, your employee decides they need to make a change.  It’s tough to see a good one go, but when they’re leaving on good terms you know you have an advocate who will remain loyal to your organization.  When the job market is this competitive, the inclination is to replace them with the first warm body that your Applicant Tracking System identifies.  While matching skills and experience is important, what is equally important is understanding their traits and behaviors so they will fit in the organization and gel with the new team.  From a manager’s standpoint, this level of understanding will also help accelerate onboarding and personalize their employee experience to maximize their opportunity to succeed and thrive in your organization.

Much like Lucille in the Kenny Rogers hit “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave me”, her departure should not have come as a huge surprise – there were definitely signs.  By equipping managers with the tools to identify and address signs of disengagement, organizations will be able to lessen the impact of ‘The Great Resignation’.  They can then focus on developing successful employees and leaders who will contribute to your long-term success.

Open the lines of communication and keep your employees engaged.

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