How is your organisation responding to The Great Resignation?


The great resignation is impacting all kinds of organisations.

We’ve been through immense change in the last few years. Covid has forced us all to change our lifestyles and working practices. It seems as though those changes are far from over. One of the hottest topics of conversation we keep having with many of our clients here at Cognomie are around the challenges that are arising from staff retention.

It’s been reported that more and more people seem to be responding to the additional stresses of work and life pressures and the general uncertainty around changes associated with the last few years, by, well, resigning.

There’s been a lot of coverage of this in the US and UK media particularly and it’s important to make sure we’re talking about a meaningful trend not just a convenient piece of media narrative.

US Labour Department figures show that 11.5m employees quit their jobs during summer 2021.Whilst much of this is impacting on the more precarious and flexible lower end of the market it is also impacting heavily on “mid career” management jobs, particularly in the technology and health sectors.

It’s important to note that this remains a small percentage of the overall workforce (approximately 3%) and it was a trend already in place before the pandemic. However what may be of greater cause for concern is not so much the overall quit rate, but the fact that some surveys are showing that nearly 50% of people are “intending” to leave their job.

Clearly such a figure can be taken with a pinch of salt. It is often easier to talk about leaving than to do so. Nonetheless, the reality is that both resigning and planning to resign is at an all time high.

There are likely to be pull and push factors at play.

Some commentators talk about how the pandemic has enabled people to reflect more on their goals and purpose and seek opportunities to better achieve these. Arguably it is also a now more buoyant career market, creating opportunities for people to move and seek better salaries and roles.

Other contributing factors could be the growing stress of work, managing work life balance and returning to office based working.

The reality however is that without accurate data we are largely speculating on the causes and remedies.

At Cognomie we think data and insight is the key to both good decision making and supporting employee and organisational health and wellbeing. But good data can only help inform decisions, it doesn’t prevent the causes that are driving the numbers.

So what can organisations do to respond to any challenges around retention?

Here’s a 4 step process that might help:

1. Diagnose the problem.

Are you actually experiencing retention challenges and are these an overall cost to the business? All business must plan for some turnover of staff. This simple equations helps you establish a baseline turnover:

Number of Leavers per Annum ÷ Average Total Number of Employees = Turnover Rate ((ref:1))

This basic figure can then be used to begin establishing trends, and then analyse the costs to the business. Are these roles expensive to fill? Is the inability to perform the duties of the roles costing the business money?

2. Understand the causes.

Some of this is likely to be qualitative, so will require some exit procedure engagement. What are employees saying in exit interviews? What are colleagues saying about reasons for departures? Understanding the stresses and strains faced by employees on a daily basis can help us understand the wider performance of the business and identify areas to address. Our proprietary Cognosis tool can be used to profile individuals against 12 key Mental Fitness measures and provide powerful insight into where employees might be experiencing strains and vulnerabilities.

3. Tailor solutions.

These might be organisation wide. Are there changes to working patterns and operational structures that would alleviate employee stress and frustration? Do employees feel listened to and in control of their own working environment? Is there more the business can do to help align employee purpose with business goals? Or they can be individually focused. Tailoring Mental Fitness support to the specific needs of the employee can help alleviate the strains that can lead to resignation. Providing transformational coaching tailored to their needs can help them develop tools for resilience and agility in their work that can help them thrive on change and see stress as something more positive.

4. Build a resilient culture.

We asked one of our founders, Kate Hesk, what her top tip would be for companies wanting to reduce the risks of resignations.

“The key for me is culture. One of the key drivers of individual resilience and being able to manage the stresses and challenges of life is purpose. Having a strong alignment between personal values and company values can be a really powerful source of that purpose. Creating and communicating a strong sense of culture has dropped down a lot of companies’ list of priorities during lockdown. Taking steps to involve employees in shaping and sharing culture can help create a stronger sense of belonging and shared purpose.”

Critically, organisations that actively engage with employee wellbeing and Mental Fitness tend to see improved resilience in their employees and teams, which in turn leads to improved retention rates.

If you’d like to talk more about how data, insight and tailored employee solutions can help your business improve retention then get in touch with our coaching team today and arrange for us to help you address any challenges you might be facing.

by | 29 Nov 2021

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