In the aftermath of the unprecedented employment crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, a new trend arose in the U.S. labor market in 2021, when millions of Americans quit their jobs willingly. In April 2021, four million people left their jobs, and in September 2021, 4.4 million employees resigned in a single month – an unbelievable record number! 

What were the driving factors for these departures? In this blog, we will have a look at various challenges employees face and the expectations they have that lead them to leave their jobs. 

We shall also share practical solutions that can be used to overcome an employee’s difficulties and how companies can introduce smart supportive initiatives and programs so that the employee retention rate is high.   

What exactly is The Great Resignation?

In 2020, a great deal of dread, anxiety, and doubt was produced by Covid-19 and as a result, businesses had closed, the economy had slowed, and many people worked from home.

In 2021, as we entered into a state of the “new normal” with employees starting to return to offices or embrace hybrid working environments, many employees started to leave their jobs on their terms. This movement, dubbed “The Great Resignation,” returned the power balance toward the employees’ side, who were seeking more than just an employment contract. Employees resigned in pursuit of better-compensated or more interesting and meaningful employment. 

Professor Anthony Klotz, from Texas A&M University, was the one to coin the term The Great Resignation when he observed the employment pattern caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

During the lockdowns, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, public services, entertainment, media, the transport industry, and tourism were the most severely affected. 

What Caused The Great Resignation?

After Covid-19, employees started to consider their level of engagement with their jobs. And when they did so, they realized that some aspects of their jobs no longer suited them.

In 2021, one of the primary reasons employees left their jobs was because they were dissatisfied with the way they were treated during the pandemic. In addition, the lack of perks and the difficulty to maintain a work-life balance as a result of working remotely added to this dissatisfaction.

Other prevalent causes of The Great Resignation include:

  1. Growth prospects. Professionals are interested in learning new skills and advancing their careers. However, a lack of possibilities tends to be a prevalent resignation cause.
  2. Being underpaid. Employees are unable to accept the reality that their colleagues end up earning high-paying jobs elsewhere, forcing them to realize their worth in the market.
  3. Less challenging work. Skilled employees like to be challenged and involved in their job. However, many employees did not feel their job was challenging enough and hence, decided to leave their companies.
  4. Insufficient appreciation: Employees need appreciation for their efforts. When an employer disregards their successes, employees may seek alternatives where their contribution is valued.
  5. Corporate culture: Promoting open communication is essential for staff retention, as only then a company would come to know about the difficulties an employee is facing at the workplace.
Also Read: How To Retain Your Top Talent?

Key Statistical findings related to The Great Resignation

In September 2021, the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey recorded 4.4 million “quits” – the number of persons who left a job willingly, as opposed to via layoff, redundancy, or dismissal. 

According to the poll by Zety, the following are intriguing demographic breakdowns on job quitting:

Great Resignation

Which industry has been hit the hardest by The Great Resignation?

The huge exodus is occurring in all industries, but it is most prominent in service and retail positions.

Intriguingly, many reports concentrated on white-collar positions, while historically low-wage occupations have experienced large shifts.

In reality, more noteworthy resignations have occurred in the American retail sector than in any other area. 

During the pandemic, low-wage employees have been hit the hardest by management actions. Many were made to work for longer hours with fewer employees, in roles that necessitated interaction with the public and with little or no safety precautions implemented by the organization, and, at least in the United States, there was no assurance of paid sick leave – these factors led to the rapid burnout of employees.

What is the business impact of this on a company?

According to a study conducted by Bersin by Deloitte, the average cost of a new hire in the United States is $4,000. Taking into consideration missed production, and the time required to get a new employee up to speed on the job, the expenses might be much larger. 

Depending on the employee’s position and seniority, a Centre for American Progress analysis found that the cost may range between 20 and 213 percent of the employee’s pay. In the present environment, the departure of an employee results in greater workloads for the remaining employees, as they strive to absorb the departing employee’s duties.

Retention strategies to prevent The Great Resignation

We’ve pulled together tried and tested retention strategies to help keep your best employees engaged and motivated. 

These aren’t Engagedly’s ideas, they’re proven mechanisms for retaining top talent and need to be implemented with care and strategy.

Consider offering flexible work hours:

COVID-19 irrevocably altered the way we work and has shown that flexible work settings are here to stay.

A non-negotiable requirement for both present employees and potential hires is flexible timing scheduling that puts the needs of the employees first. This applies to both salaried employees and hourly workers. If you cannot provide your employees with adequate work schedule flexibility, they will seek it elsewhere.

Flex and hybrid work choices:

Although many employees prefer to be in the office, some of them work remotely. The reasons may vary from personal obligations to saving time. 

The previous two years have shown that remote (or hybrid) work is the future. According to a recent poll, 39% of employees would contemplate departing if employers were inflexible about remote roles. This proportion is 49 % among 18- to 34-year-old millennials

The shift towards technologically integrated virtual teams reduces the amount of time spent traveling each day, thereby increasing the overall corporate productivity.

The requirement has become so pressing because professionals who commute all day every week may have little spare time when they get home.

Developing career and growth opportunities:

Benefits For Job Seekers

Millennials and Generation Z comprise the majority of the workforce in today’s market. HR leadership and team managers must understand what motivates these employees in a work setting to attract and retain them. 

These generations are keen to work for organizations that provide possibilities for professional growth. Hence, creating clear career pathways and mentoring programs should be a crucial component of your retention strategy. This not only helps your firm stay competitive with job seekers, but also makes it possible to create succession plans for aging leadership.

Also, ensure that you comprehend applicants’ professional objectives during their initial interviews, and maintain this discussion throughout employment. An awareness that employees’ career objectives are valued will improve engagement and demonstrate that they are supported in their development process. 

Managers should have frequent conversations with employees about their career objectives and search out opportunities that correspond with those objectives. This may include implementing cross-training programs to broaden the skill sets of employees or developing mentoring programs with an experienced leader.

The use of technology like the one offered by Engagedly helps to keep track of employees’ performance benchmarks; changes in preferences, and employee development.

Creative freedom matters:

Many individuals may feel dissatisfied with their work due to a lack of creativity in their work. Providing employees with the opportunity to be creative and build social relationships at work, or engage in passion projects inside the firm can result in happier, more devoted employees.

Reward commitment and Show Recognition:

To recruit the most qualified candidates, companies must provide competitive remuneration packages to employees who are committed. You must compensate employees enough so they do not have a second thought on salary when choosing to work for your organization. 

Since recognition can drive productivity, you can plan out a rewarding program

When there is an award to be won, employees strive hard to accomplish their allocated jobs in the best possible manner. It naturally drives the workforce to be more productive.

If businesses increase the number of employees, they acknowledge each week for their work, the following will occur:

  • 24% increase in quality of the job
  • 27% decrease in absenteeism
  • 10% decrease in attrition rate

Consider offering one-time incentives, in addition, to aid with student debt repayment and work-from-home opportunities. Take the time to demonstrate your gratitude to your employees with incentives, promotions, or simply an email.

Prioritize and implement mental health and employee help programs:

Countless people worked diligently during the epidemic and faced the difficulty of managing personal and professional obligations. As a result, the emphasis shifted to what companies are doing to make their employees feel valued and supported. 

HR departments must ensure that a communication strategy is in place to apprise employees of any accessible employee support programs and mental health programs. Not only is it vital to invest in these sorts of initiatives, but also to promote an open discussion on issues such as mental health and financial wellbeing. 

Consider providing instructional workshops to explore and answer questions about these resources. 

Also, consider imaginatively what employees may desire or need, going beyond ‘perks.’ For instance, offering employees access to their income before payday could significantly improve their quality of life. They may feel more valued and hence, may stick to your company.

Connect with intent:

Employees today want to feel like they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves, that they’re making a difference, and that their job matters. Hence, your organization’s mission should be clearly defined to the employees and initiatives should be explored to assist each employee to understand their unique purpose in the company.

In Start with Why, Simon Sinek describes a “golden circle” technique that might help you establish your mission. Ensure that each team or department understands how their efforts contribute to your organization’s overall performance when you evaluate organizational objectives. Reinforce to all employees that everyone’s work matter and is a significant contributor to the company’s growth. 

You may also choose to assist others who wish to define their particular mission. Employers need to understand the distinct set of skills, talents, and passions of their employees that can contribute to their own and the company’s success.

Clarify your expectations:

When managing uncertainty, the brain is often subjected to an invisible cognitive strain. You may compare it to a processor that must use more energy to do operations in the background. The cumulative effect of these additional mental demands results in unnecessary stress and strain.

When feasible, employers may alleviate this burden by providing employees with clearly defined goals. This is especially crucial for top performers and star achievers, who would often set very high expectations for themselves and are susceptible to burnout. 

Consider the well-being of your employees and their families:

Employers should ensure the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their employees and their families to retain them. This may include health insurance; discounts on membership to a club, golf course, or fitness center where they feel relaxed and rejuvenated; mental health counseling and care services; maternity and paternity leaves, etc. Additionally, you may support parents of young children by offering child care support programs and Paid Time Off (PTO).

Review your organization’s policies:

The hiring and onboarding process may make or ruin a company. The implementation of all recruiting and onboarding rules and procedures is as essential as it is to review them.You must also foster an atmosphere in which the skilled and gifted employees feel at ease discussing workplace difficulties. Businesses must guarantee that they offer continuing training programs so that employees can acquire new skills while at work.

Also Read: 25 Unique Employee Benefit Ideas To Attract the Best Talent


There are several reasons why an employee may contemplate quitting his work. Although certain factors may be beyond your control, being proactive about the aspects you can influence might help you avoid losing your finest employees to The Great Resignation.

Employees’ perspectives can be understood by using a software that helps to learn what employees think about their work; job roles, and future in the company. This may be accomplished by using the Engagedly solution, which enables employees to provide feedback anonymously. Thus, employees will have no qualms about expressing their views and opinions on their management or the work environment. You may not be able to stop a specific employee from leaving his or her job, but you may avert the next loss.

If you’re looking to take a proactive approach to retaining and engaging your employees, book a live demo with us.

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