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3 Ways to Flip the 'Great Resignation' Into the 'Great Retention'

Here's how to stop the trend of employees walking out the door.

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According to The 2021 People Management Report, which surveyed 2,000 workers across 15-plus industries, 48% have considered quitting their jobs in the past year. Looking ahead 12 months: A staggering 57% are thinking of leaving in the near future.

“The Great Resignation,” as it’s been deemed, is just the latest front in the war for talent. If a high performer doesn’t feel engaged in their job, they’ll start looking for a job that does motivate them. That’s talent optimization in action.

Now’s the time to head into battle and give your people a reason to stay. Here are trio of truths that will help you to do just that.

1. Block burnout

Why are people disengaging from their jobs and leaving their companies in droves? 

The answer stems from burnout. This isn’t a new phenomenon—when employees feel spent, disengagement typically isn’t far behind. What is new, however, is the way this malaise spreads in a post-COVID world.

According to the aforementioned People Management Report, 36% of workers say their manager seems burned out. Of those with a checked-out manager, 73% say their team also feels numb, compared to just 22% of respondents without a put-upon higher-up.

Bottom line? Burnout is contagious. It's imperative that businesses stop it at the source. That starts with prioritizing mental health at all levels of the organization. Even something as simple as a leadership off-site can help energize managers so they, in turn, inspire their people. 

2. Communicate with confidence

For many employees, their discontent is fueled not by overworked managers, but by unsure ones. 

Unfortunately, communication is also the top skill employees say their managers lack.

By taking steps to ensure you’re confident in yourself and clear on the mission at hand, you pave the way for your people to follow suit. Keep in mind: These aren't radical skills that require years of experience. They're traits any leader can learn, provided you’re driven to improve. 

In my book The Science of Dream Teams, I shared a time-honored framework called “Front of T-Shirt, Back of T-Shirt.” The front of your tee is where you proudly share your accomplishments, while the back reflects the traits you’re not so proud of.

As a leader, you may not even realize what’s on the back of that T-shirt. As Elon Musk preaches: Be aware of your shortcomings and develop a feedback loop to act on them. It takes effort to invest in yourself, but that investment will pay long-term dividends for you and your team.

3. Create a hybrid workplace

A top-down approach can only go so far. Even when managers are bringing their A-game, disengagement can root itself within otherwise-productive teams. 

According to that same report, 60% of employees work entirely on-site—but only 49% want to. Consider that 68% of companies plan to have hybrid teams moving forward and there’s a disconnect brewing. 

Retention hinges on meeting your people where they are—both geographically and emotionally. This starts by understanding what drives your people on any given day. Are some employees dying to return to the office, while others are perfectly content staying remote? Provide a flexible option, so these people can work where they want, when they want. 

There’s no magic speech you can give your employees to convince them to stay. But by putting words to action, you can tip the scales in your favor. 

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Mike Zani is the CEO of The Predictive Index, the leader in talent optimization. An avid sailor, Mike began his career in marketing and sales with Vanguard Sailboats and was a coach for the 1996 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. He holds a B.S. from Brown University and an MBA from Harvard.