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Strategies to Combat the Great Resignation

The employment market reflects drastic changes following the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 4.4 million workers left their jobs in September of this year with no indication of slowing. The old-school model of employee loyalty to a firm has been replaced with an emphasis on compensation packages, work-life balance, and job trajectory, shifting the job market into an employee’s market. Employee burnout and turnover are increasing, and job openings are remaining unfilled much longer than before the outbreak of COVID-19. This paradigm shift is forcing management and boards to rethink effective strategies to attract and retain their primary asset, their people.

The Great Resignation is currently impacting employees of all ages in all industries. Studies continue to affirm the main culprits for employee dissatisfaction include burnout, organizational changes, the inability to complete work during their normal work hours, and lack of flexibility. Such is the discontent that many are willing to quit their current job without another opportunity lined up. The importance of motivating and retaining employees has never been greater.

How Employers Can Balance Compensation Packages and Financial Returns

Given the increasing rate of unfilled opportunities and resignations, competitive compensation packages are the first and most obvious method to retain and encourage employees. Compensation is the key driver and core component in the overall employee experience. Employees are more willing to transition to a new opportunity with a better compensation package or remain in their current role if given a raise. Companies are finding themselves offering sign-on bonuses, increased pay, and merit increases to attract and retain their current and future talent.

Base salaries serve as a foundational component for other compensation programs. The competition concerns in the current market increase the need for each position to fit within a competitive salary range. However, incentives, both short-term and long-term, are another key component in building a market-competitive compensation package. A bonus program incentivizes employees to meet their goals and objectives through a method that also benefits their organizational health and financial goals. It is important to set targets and opportunities within a bonus program that are competitive and attainable but require investment from each individual to attain. Long-term incentives, while encouraging the employee to meet the goals outlined by their organization, also act as a form of retention. Employees are less likely to look for new opportunities when there is money on the table.

What Role Do Benefits Play?

Although compensation is a key motivator and core component of the total rewards package, it does not address the top issues causing the Great Resignation. Many employers are noticing employees want and are continuing to search for better benefits and more flexibility. Benefits play a more comprehensive role than just the financial aspect. New priorities should be focused on well-being initiatives, better coverage for mental care and health care, greater job flexibility, and work-life balance.

The core motivation behind the rising importance of benefits’ role rests in the need for employees to feel value in their workplace. Leaders need to provide care and employee well-being through organizational support, offering an equal exchange between the value an employee produces and the value an employer provides. Employees want to feel valued and cared for, and organizations that make continued efforts to show appreciation, dedication, and commitment will attract and retain talent much more effectively. Comprehensive benefits packages should extend beyond annual selections.

Flexibility in the workplace continues to be a highly debated topic for management. It’s important to note that since the pandemic started, flexibility seems to equate to working remotely. While that does provide employees a great deal of flexibility, it is not the only way to achieve said benefit. Not all industries and job functions lend themselves towards a remote-working environment, but in these cases, flexibility can still be supported. Offering workers more control over their job duties, less micro-managing, flexible work schedules, more autonomy in leveraging strengths for career growth, and more guidance from leaders to develop long-term career success are all great ways to support flexibility in the workplace. When remote working is an option, it provides an employee a greater degree of autonomy and freedom in the workplace. Allowing individuals to work from home full or part-time, as well as relinquishing some of the control over to the employee when remote work isn’t an option as mentioned above, provides a level of trust from leadership that is meaningful to workers. Trust will continue to play a key role in team success.

When a team is not always together, it is important to still stay connected. Employees need the ability to communicate with their team and have access to mental health care when isolated, even on a part-time basis. Scheduling time for team building or social interaction provides an effective avenue for the team to come together outside of normal working conditions.

How Employers Can Encourage Growth and Trajectory

Aside from compensation and benefits, employers and management must provide the tools and resources to keep their employees from feeling stagnant. Many employees are struggling to see a path of trajectory in their place of employment, leaving employees with uncertainty. If someone cannot find their trajectory in a company, why would they stay where they are?

Training is a key method for management to encourage growth of their people. Training is valuable at all levels of an organization. When people are a company’s talent, training and improving their skills only increases their organizational worth.

As mentioned above, it’s increasingly important for leadership to offer guidance for career development and growth. This shows dedication and commitment to their workforce and is a powerful aid in recruiting and retention efforts. Opportunities to attend seminars or work on relevant certifications provide an avenue for an employee to work towards professional development. Offering tuition assistance is another way to foster growth and a highly valued benefit for current and future talent.


While the Great Resignation has exacerbated some of the most pressing workforce challenges, it’s an opportunity for organizations to grow, learn, evolve and do better. Finding new ways to improve the employee experience and redefine the meaning of total rewards will provide great benefits, not only for workers but for organizations as a whole. Having an engaged, efficient, happy workforce results in stronger, more profitable companies, better equipped to handle challenges.

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