High turnover is something many companies are dealing with right now, especially these days. Even in standard times, some organizations always experience some level of employee churn--and that can be healthy up to a certain point.

But what most organizations fear the most is when they lose too much organizational depth and knowledge all at the same time--which is what so many companies are experiencing now as we fight through what's being called the Great Resignation.

That raises the question: Why are so many people quitting right now?

Out of Control Stress

Many years of research tell us that people quit their managers--not their jobs. But that doesn't immensely help us explain what's happening now. It's not like a whole generation of managers has suddenly turned toxic.

The truth is we're now experiencing a whole set of environmental factors that are beyond our control. It's not so much the fault of leaders and managers as much as the shock and awe of the pandemic, which has upended life as we knew it.

Anytime we experience major stress events in our lives, like the death of a parent or a divorce, it's a shock to our system. It's normal for people to reflect on their lives in such moments.

Everyone's life got turned upside down for 18 months, which gave just about everyone a lot of time to think and reflect on their lives. And after doing that reflection, many of them decided it was time for a change.

This was the biggest shock many of us would ever experience in our lives. It's no wonder turnover is through the roof.

Rethinking Work-Life Balance

This can be an incredibly frustrating time for many leaders, because it might seem like there's nothing you can do to stop the bleeding.

But you need to reframe what's happening and see it as an excellent opportunity to spend time listening to your people and being compassionate and empathetic to what they are going through on an individual basis.

For example, I have never heard as many references to the importance of work-life balance, mental wellness, and burnout in my coaching work as I have recently. People are still going through a lot.

And for many of them, working remotely from home gave them reasons to rethink their priorities--and to look for employers and workplaces that will offer them support.

Find the Goldilocks Zone

The challenge, of course, is that many companies are still scrambling to catch up after an off-year--or to keep up with record demand. That's only potentially creating more stress for your employees.

For example, I know of one company that lost half the people in its marketing department. The remaining team is now being asked to do twice the amount of work--which can easily lead to burnout.

That's why it's critical as leaders to find what I call the Goldilocks zone for stress levels--just the right amount. If that tips out of balance, you might find yourself losing people you truly can't afford to lose.

This Too Shall Pass

It's important to remember we're still working through a traumatic experience that many of us will never forget. But we will get through it. The key is to spend time listening to your team and finding ways to reduce stress at work so they can thrive. If you can do that, you'll find high turnover rates will become a thing of the past.