Employee Retention During the Great Resignation

In late 2020 and early 2021, employees began voluntarily exiting their jobs at unprecedented numbers in what has been coined “The Great Resignation,” “The Big Quit,” and “The Great Reshuffle.” In 2021, a record average of 4 million workers quit their job each month, surpassing the 3.5 million record set in 2019. This phenomenon has left employers wondering what they can do to retain, and attract, employees in this market. 

First, it is important to understand why workers are leaving their jobs in these numbers. It has been reported that the stock and housing markets have permitted workers to move up their retirement dates, that parents found it difficult to balance work and their children’s virtual school needs, and that restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic were too contentious in the workplace. But many workers have also left to seek out better employment opportunities—as employers have struggled with maintaining their work force, they have begun offering higher wages, better benefits, and more opportunities. Individuals who had quit their job disclosed that they had done so due to low pay, little opportunity to advance in their career, being disrespected in the workplace, issues retaining childcare, not having flexibility, and desiring better workplace benefits. 

Further, it is important to note that young adults are leaving their jobs in larger numbers than their older counterparts. Employees under 30 are 10% more likely to have voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021 than those between 30 and 49, 28% more likely than those between 50 and 64, and 32% more likely than those above 65. It has been noted that such young people have left their jobs in search of more flexibility and control after having the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic.  

So, what can be done to retain such employees? The Harvard Business Review discusses the “5 R’s” that should be implemented to maintain your workforce:  

  1. Responsibility: Employees should be given responsibility and the opportunity to grow and learn new skills. 
  2. Respect: Employees should feel respected and appreciated. If managers prioritize showing respect to their employees, it will build a positive and lasting workplace culture that employees want to be a part of.  
  3. Revenue-sharing: If an employee’s wages are connected in some way to the company’s performance their interests will align with the company’s and incentivize employees to remain with the company over time.  
  4. Reward: Employees should feel that their hard work is recognized. This reaches beyond their monetary compensation and includes things like public recognition and handwritten notes.  
  5. Relaxation Time: Maintaining a manageable workflow pace will help create enduring employee relationships and avoid workplace burnout. 

While recent employment figures may frighten employers, there are mechanisms for avoiding feeling the repercussions of the “Great Resignation,” in your workplace. It all begins with ensuring that your employees receive proper compensation and benefits, feel valued and respected, have the opportunity to grow in their roles, and do not get burned out in their positions. 

For assistance with any employment matters please contact one of our Employment and Labor attorneys. Special thanks to summer associate Jenna Nelson for her assistance with this blog.