The U.S. Department of Labor reports that during the months of April, May, and June 2021, 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. The Great Resignation is real. And it’s ongoing. According to Gallup research, 48 percent of employees are actively looking to make a change. How should employers react to those two small but impactful words: “I quit”?
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer, co-founders of HumanityWorks, point out that the employees who stay will be watching how you deal with those who go. What outcome do you want to create out of this disruption?
“In far too many companies when an employee gives notice the reaction is akin to an emotional breakup — you’ve been left and you feel rejected. This triggers some not great behavior like a tendency to make the person leaving ‘wrong’ and doubt the person’s trustworthiness or integrity — even though that was not the case before they gave notice. There is a penchant to dismiss their presence and devalue their contribution.”
Instead, the authors suggest approaching these transitions by showing gratitude. The era of lifelong employment is over and, with rare exceptions, employees are with your organization as a stop on their career journey. They’ve contributed and, hopefully, learned new things. They’re not the same person they were when they were hired (and the same goes for you and for the organization). “What would it be like to pause when a resignation occurs and give voice to these things from both sides of the relationship?” they ask. What would be created if you acknowledge how both sides have grown and evolved?
Besides, the talent pool is tight, and careers are long. End this phase of your time together with appreciation, and who knows what the future will bring—perhaps even re-recruitment down the road.
How has your organization been responding when employees announce they are leaving, and could there be an improvement? To join the conversation, click "comments" just below the picture for this article. We want to hear from you!