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The Great Disconnect

July 5, 2022

There’s been a lot of talk about The Great Resignation.

Here are just five titles of the dozens of articles that have been published about it in the last two weeks alone:

“The Great Resignation is not over: A fifth of workers plan to quit in 2022”
“The Great Resignation Stems from a Great Exploration”
“Five Ways to Compete for Talent During the Great Resignation”
“Cities Stung by Great Resignation Hike Wages, Just as Recession Looms”
“CEOs are Quitting and Joining and Great Resignation—Here’s Why”

If you haven’t heard much about The Great Resignation, you can probably figure out what it’s about from its name: “In America alone, 47.8 million people called it quits in 2021” (Ederick Stander, Forbes). And in 2022, people are continuing to leave their jobs at unprecedented rates.

But even if you haven’t read much about The Great Resignation, chances are you’ve felt the effects of it as a consumer. You’ve waited on your food longer than normal only to notice the sign posted in the window, pleading for qualified candidates to apply. Or maybe you purchased a new pair of shoes online and had to wait an extra week for them to be delivered. When you inquired, the company replied with an email explaining they are short staffed and taking longer to process orders. Your flight was delayed, or even canceled, as short-staffed airlines struggle to keep up.

It’s true that more people are leaving their jobs than ever before.

However, the real problem is the disconnect between why employers think their employees are leaving and the real reasons for their departure.

Last year, McKinsey & Company conducted a study to identify why employees say they are leaving their jobs versus why employers think they are leaving. The results were fascinating. 

Employers think these are the top reasons their employees are leaving their businesses:

1. A better job offer
2. More money
3. More flexibility

However, when studied, employees state they are leaving because they want:

1. A company who cares about them
2. A manager who cares about them
3. To feel a sense of belonging at work

Don’t misunderstand me. Better jobs, more money, and greater flexibility are all reasons why employees leave… they just aren’t the top reasons for them leaving.

One key reason businesses are struggling right now: they understand the problem of keeping employees, but they misunderstand what’s causing it. They understand they are struggling with retention, but they are misdiagnosing why.

The Great Resignation is, in large part, caused by this great disconnect. When employers miss what people want, they spend time, energy, and effort on the wrong solutions. Paying someone more or giving them more flexibility may extend the amount of time a person is willing to stay, but it won’t keep them around for the long haul.

All of these things listed are important, but the top three reasons employees are leaving can be summed up in one word: Care. Employees want to feel and experience a work community that cares for them. The bigger the company, the harder this is to cultivate.

Oftentimes well-intentioned organizations struggle to show they care. While the solutions aren’t always easy, they are more simple than you’d expect. Investing in training leaders and providing individuals opportunity to grow can go a long way. 

My challenge to you this week: audit how you and your company (or school or church or non-profit) as a whole are caring for members of your team. 

Focusing on a culture of care will help you win the war for talent and weather the storm of the The Great Resignation.


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