The big quit: How to keep your best people

The ‘Big Quit’ or ‘Great Resignation’ is the trend of a high number of people leaving their jobs for pastures new since spring this year. So how do you stop your talent walking out the door? We share 3 tips to help you hold onto your best people.

In 2020 when we were all in the midst of lockdowns and many businesses were working on staying afloat, the job market was uncertain. Millions of people around the world lost their jobs and those who remained were grateful to still be employed.

But as life has returned to a relative semblance of normality (Omicron permitting) those who have the option to are looking to move on. After nearly 2 years of very few promotion prospects or pay reviews, people are thinking again about finding meaning and growth at work rather than simply surviving.

According to ONS there are currently nearly 1.2m jobs open in the UK – but there are not enough jobseekers to fill them.

The reasons for quitting

Over the last 18 months, we’ve been asking talent to work harder than ever before. We’ve been asking them to step up and become self-leaders, be innovative in how they work, be resilient and put up with a whole lot things they just don’t want; moving teams, training being postponed and a lot of unclear plans.

People have always wanted a sense of belonging, to feel valued, have opportunities for growth and to be given fair pay.

Now, we are seeing a subtle shift that is behind the reason for this mass exodus.

The research we ran this year on what talent want revealed that many people are asking themselves a crucial question: Can I create a meaningful life here?

  • Is there a genuine commitment to wellbeing at my current organisation?
  • Can I also be part of my family/community?
  • Does my work put me in my element?
  • Are we, as an organisation, having a positive social impact?

How do you stop talent walking out the door?

One thing is clear; talent want to be treated as individuals – taking into account their age, lifestyle and personal circumstances – and want to see this reflected in their role and rewards. Even if you fix those things, there are 3 key things that we think are worth looking at if you want to retain your best talent.

1. Human leadership

“The number one reason for staying in a role is a great relationship with your boss. The number one reason for leaving, is a bad relationship with your boss.” – Harvard Business Review

Only 6% of people said that the quality of the leadership they are experiencing makings them want to stay in their current role. We have an opportunity to pause and reflect on the quality of the leadership in our organisations. Are you seeing genuine human leadership at all levels? Find out more about what we mean by human leadership here.

2. Genuine learning cultures

54% of people said the main thing they would change about their organisation is an improved learning culture.

In genuine learning cultures you’ll see leaders regularly giving and seeking feedback, people prepared to take risks and make mistakes, different opinions being listened to, increased ownership and low blame, time allowed for proper learning, and opportunities for personal and professional training. Talent value being part of a learning community, with the chance to receive training from external, expert providers – not just internal training that focuses on learning job-specific skills.

3. Role-model wellbeing

Only 9% of people believe their direct line managers role-model wellbeing. They don’t trust that there is a genuine commitment to wellbeing, and have said the interventions they’ve seen have been a tick box exercise of tips and techniques.

This respondent shared their experience over the last year:

“They say one thing and do another. ‘Look after your wellbeing’ and ‘by the way can you cram every minute of every day with Zoom calls’? They’ve missed so many opportunities to show they care. Virtual get togethers either didn’t happen, were cut short or leaders didn’t show up.”

Are you saying one thing and doing another?

Will it work?

Talent will naturally look for opportunities that align to their career and personal goals; there’s no magic wand that will guarantee you’ll hold on to all of your best people. But we do know that in the fight against the Big Quit, creating a genuine learning culture within your organisation, building the skills of human leadership and nurturing an environment where everyone is proactive about their wellbeing will make a huge difference.

How do we know this? Download our latest brochure to find out.

By Ivy House London
30th November 2021

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