"The great resignation is coming," says Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University.
This makes it sound like it's some asteroid or maybe sharks, and all we can do is brace ourselves, get our post-apocalyptic jumpsuits ready, and invest in cryptocurrency. Or something.
Klotz is right to expect a great resignation--turnover is normal, and people postpone leaving jobs in times of uncertainty. We can all say, with a surety, that life has been uncertain for the past 15 months or so. And it makes sense that the response is people resigning.
But you can stop it. Or at least lessen the impact on your business. Here's how.
Talk with your employees, not at your employees.
We recently saw a disastrous op-ed from Washingtonian CEO Cathy Merrill, who argued that people who work remotely aren't as engaged or as valuable as people in the office. Her employees went on strike for a day. She talked at them--and in a passive-aggressive way of publishing an article instead of holding a direct meeting.
You may be struggling to determine how you want your business to run. Do you remain remote? Make a hybrid model? Bring everyone back? All are legitimate options, but it's not just your opinion that matters. Talk to your employees and find out their feelings.
Send everyone on vacation.
What does this have to do with employee retention? A whole lot of people are feeling stressed. Did you get a vacation last year? I didn't really--I took the week off between Christmas and New Year's, but because of Covid restrictions, I basically sat on my couch and watched television and ate things. That's not a vacation, that's a depressive episode.
Strongly encourage people to take a (safe) vacation. Things are opening. Staff members who want to be vaccinated have been vaccinated. Give people some real downtime. Maybe even sweeten the pot by giving them some bonus money to go on a trip. People will feel refreshed after taking a real break.
Go over your compensation with a fine-tooth comb.
If you're waiting for employees to come to you to ask for a raise, you might as well be asking to be front and center at the great resignation. For better or worse, salary demands changed over the past year, especially for entry-level employees. You've seen the restaurants unable to open because they can't get enough staff. That can happen to you, too.
Because the Biden administration implemented a $15 minimum wage for government contractors, you compete for employees with those jobs--even if you aren't a government contractor. It doesn't matter that wages don't go into effect until January 2022; people expect the higher rate now. And, remember, not all government contractor jobs are in aerospace engineering--some are cafeteria workers. You need to make sure you are paying your employees a proper market rate right now, or they will leave, and you'll have to replace them with employees at that same market rate. Boost your employees' salaries now and save the hassle.
Treat those who leave kindly.
If you want to lose all your best staff, be a jerk to people who resign. Otherwise, congratulate them on their new position, express your support, and say, "I hope you think of us again in the future." Keep those doors open. Some people will come back.
If you keep your eye on making your employees happy and engaged, the great resignation shouldn't hit you too hard. You just need to be a great employer, and you can do that.