The Great Resignation – Is it all bad?

The Great Resignation – Is it all bad? 

This is an interesting article by Brian Hartzer.  He raises some very valid points on the “Great Resignation” and how important it is to treat employees well. But! And there had to be a but, I don’t think culture is the only driving force at play here. I’m a glass half full kind of person, so I’m also not convinced it’s all bad for employees or Companies. 

There is no doubt that the pandemic changed us all. It gave us all a kick up the backside. Time in isolation, fearing for the safety of our friends and family and, in the worst cases, mourning the loss of them from the most horrendous circumstances. It made us realise how precious life is. It made us all question in one way or another what we are doing with our time. 

So, is it really a surprise that as we come out of the other side that peoples’ priorities have changed? We have survived! We feel strong, brave, and determined to make the best of this thing called Life. For many, making the most of it means a change to their career. Taking on a new challenge, taking a step up (or in some cases down) the ladder, leaving a job they don’t really enjoy but has felt comfortable, following their dreams to be a dog walker or an astronaut or whatever else is their passion.  

As the article makes clear we should all be looking after our people, they are after all our greatest assets, and we should be treating them accordingly. That’s not news, even the most frugal of CFOs has long since recognised that investing in the health, wellbeing and development of the workforce is money well spent. However, the harsh reality for most companies is that when we’ve nurtured, grown and developed our people we just don’t have the scale of operation, or the budget (especially in the current race to the top salaries being offered), to offer them the opportunity that they are looking for. Cue resignation… 

Anybody that has the privilege of managing people will know that sinking feeling when one of your best comes to you and says the dreaded “I’m resigning”.  Selfishly our first thoughts go to…. the timing couldn’t be worse, how will I manage? Who will fill the gap? Recruitment is a nightmare.  Good leaders, though, only need a moment or two to get a grip and turn their thoughts back to the person that they have mentored, trained, and challenged to come out of their comfort zone. The real life human that they have worked alongside through good times and bad. They have a new and exciting opportunity, isn’t that great? Isn’t that something to be happy about, maybe just a little bit proud of or even celebrate?  

From a company view, of course it’s very disappointing and there will undoubtedly be disruption in the short term but isn’t there also an opportunity?  We now have a vacancy that could give one of our other bright stars a great opportunity and prevent them from leaving. If the worst happens and external recruitment is required maybe there is opportunity within that too. Won’t that become somebody else’s reason to resign? Tempting in somebody new who’s excited and full of bright ideas provides boundless possibilities. 

“The Great Resignation” won’t last forever, in time things will settle down again.  As leaders and as organisations our employees are only ever really on loan to us. If we really want to get it right then we should treat them well, train and develop them and give them all the tools they need to succeed. Make the absolute most of them whilst we can. Then, when the time comes that they must go, we thank them for everything they have done, wish them well, be genuinely pleased for them and be proud of the part we played in their journey. 

Karen Morris, Interim Chief Financial Officer


Photo by Junseong Lee on Unsplash

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