back to content hub
Min read

How can HR people make the most of 'The Great Resignation'?

Written By
Simon Dumont

If you’ve been anywhere near LinkedIn this past six months, you’ll have noticed people panicking about The Great Resignation. 

‘The Great Resignation is upon us,’ the articles say. ‘80% of your team are going to become eco-farmers or van people.’

That statistic is not real. But these ones are: 41% of employees are considering leaving their company at some point this year. 3% of the entire US workforce resigned in October 2021. And with so many positions now open, only 16% of employees are worried that finding a new job will be difficult.

The reasons are well-documented. The pandemic has changed the way we work. Employees can now choose between a more diverse range of work set-ups than ever. And once you’ve lived through a real-life doomsday scenario, switching jobs no longer seems like such a big deal.

But are these reasons for HR people to panic? They don’t have to be.

Focus on the right policies, adapt to the post-covid jobscape, and The Great Resignation will start to feel a lot less scary. All that great talent has to go somewhere—why not take advantage?

We asked some top HR heads how companies can make the most of The Great Resignation. Here’s what they said.

Which businesses will end up benefiting most from The Great Resignation?

Shannon Norton | Head of Operations at Chameleon

Fully distributed teams that aren’t located in the same city or state are definitely benefiting from The Great Resignation—and they’ll continue to benefit.

Having the flexibility and ability to work for a company regardless of your location is really attractive to a lot of candidates right now. And your pool of candidates is so much greater if you remove location as a restriction.

Jack Villiers | Co-founder of KULA and LEAD, ex-Monzo & JustEat

The pandemic has made people question the what and the why of their purpose in life. So the businesses that will come out on top are those that are really mission-driven—that are doing something that makes a difference in the world.

"You should be able to trust people to do their job in their own time, at their own pace. People aren’t babies."

<quote-author>Rita Wittek<quote-author><quote-company>Head of People at Homerun<quote-company>

Alex Duell | VP of People at Cutover

Those that have been proactively investing in their people all the way through the pandemic era, and before it too—versus those that hit the panic button when shit started hitting the fan and tried to bring in all the programs under the sun in a disjointed and surface-level way. I think people can see through that bullshit quite easily.

Rita Wittek | Head of People at Homerun

Companies that don't see their people as a workforce, but as people with lives. And companies that are willing to adapt to new circumstances they face.

Vaida Baio | VP of People at Landbot

Companies who are great at building company culture, and also great at communicating it with a strong employer brand. It can feel great to work somewhere, but if it’s not communicated externally you won’t attract the right people.

What should companies focus on to attract & retain talent during this time?

Laura Valle | Employee Relations Lead at Vista

Flexibility is key. Flexibility in benefits—because not everyone has the same needs at the same time. Flexibility in location—because the pandemic has shifted people’s core values. Some don’t want to live in big cities any more, but still want to work for amazing companies. And flexibility in working schedules—bury the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

At Vista we shifted to non-linear working days, which means each of us can work when it suits us—with some common guidelines, of course. We want to empower a-sync collaboration.

Will Beaton | Head of People at MyTutor

Candidates should have a clear view of what it’s like to work at your company so they can make an informed decision—and hopefully a long-lasting one. Make sure they know what high performance looks like, and that you've tested for values throughout the hiring process.

On the retention side, keep up the feedback loops through surveys and speaking with the team. When you see changes in sentiment in certain areas of the business, react and adapt.

For example, we just updated our maternity and paternity policies to give employees more leave than the government normally allows. This extra security helps attract people looking to switch jobs and start a family.

Alex Duell | VP of People at Cutover

Investing in manager training. A lot of attention is always given to up-skilling junior people or executive training—which is great. But there's a massive gap in the middle that’s left un-focused on: mid-level management.

Hybrid, remote, short-term out of office, pandemic, anxiety—all of these themes are very new for the majority of managers in the world. Line managers often end up getting squeezed between pressure from the top, and disillusionment or annoyance from their direct reporting line. As HR people, we need to show line managers that we've got their back, we know their job is bloody hard, and we want them to succeed.

Companies that invest in training programs on managing in times of global crisis—like the one we’re in—are really going to feel the benefits: better retention rates from employees who feel loyal to their managers, and more engaged managers who are also not going to leave.

Rita Wittek | Head of People at Homerun

Trusting people. Let people work at the times they’re most productive, and don’t count the hours. 

If you put lots of effort into your hiring process, hire the right people, then onboard them really well, you should be able to trust them to do their job in their own time, at their own pace. People aren’t babies.

For hiring, it might mean one or two interviews more, or even just a couple of calls to meet some other team members and find out if they actually fit the company.

For onboarding remotely—which a lot of companies get wrong—don’t just have a meeting on the first day and ship their computer. Without a proper onboarding process at remote companies, it's very difficult for new people to reach out and get to know the team.

Jack Villiers | Co-founder of KULA and LEAD, ex-Monzo & JustEat

Distilling your mission, vision, and purpose into a clear, concise proposition is really important to attract people. So many companies hiring are doing well from a funding perspective. Your mission is what makes your company stand out—and what keeps your current employees motivated.

Also, lots of people are flipping their careers on their heads to do something completely different. So if an organisation has the flexibility for someone to be part of the company, while also having opportunities to develop both inside and outside their role—that's really, really powerful for attracting and retaining talent.

Vaida Baio | VP of People at Landbot

Beyond having a great product and a great company, creating a really good company culture that attracts people. Of course, this is difficult. 

One thing we’re focusing on is having great managers that support and coach people. We’ve found that culture really grows from managers. So we're always looking for managers who aren’t just here to deliver, but who also mentor people to make decisions and take responsibility themselves.

We're not looking for mommies or daddies. We're looking for people who can empower others through a servant leadership approach.

Any advice for HR teams who want to turn 'The Great Resignation' into an opportunity for their company?

Jack Villiers | Co-founder of KULA and LEAD, ex-Monzo & JustEat

Tell an authentic story about what you’re doing as a company. Then invest in a People team full of people who are going to take that vision, mission, and values and embed it in the company.

It’s hard to measure the impact of that straight away, but the most successful companies that I've worked in really focus on this from an early stage.

Shannon Norton | Head of Operations at Chameleon

Build a team with a culture that people really want to be a part of. No matter how much compensation someone receives, they won’t stay anywhere long if they hate working there—especially with the wealth of opportunities available. 

Talk to your current team members to make sure you have the  pulse of how they’re feeling, and keep asking for feedback on the culture and atmosphere at your company.

Laura Valle | Employee Relations Lead at Vista

Challenge the status quo of current HR practices and policies. Because “it has been always done like this” isn’t working for people any more.

"As HR people, we need to show line managers that we've got their back, we know their job is bloody hard, and we want them to succeed."

<quote-author>Alex Duell<quote-author><quote-company>VP of People at Cutover<quote-company>

Rita Wittek | Head of People at Homerun

Don't be afraid of change. Change can be positive, and it can also be the start of turning things around. Be bold, talk to your people, and create an action plan to adapt.

Vaida Baio | VP of People at Landbot

Create a feeling of belonging. We’re at a point where employees are asking themselves: why am I here? Do I belong? So give people opportunities to show who they really are outside of work. In remote companies this is especially important—or work can feel very impersonal. 

Will Beaton | Head of People at MyTutor

Stay on top of your data. Make sure you're aware of key metrics like turnover and turnover <1 year. Break this down by team, seniority, and demographic level if possible. This lets you focus on areas where you can have the highest impact.

Alex Duell | VP of People at Cutover

Look after yourself. I've had a bit of a torrid time mental health-wise in my role during the pandemic. The energy that's required from People leaders in any business to be able to handle themselves and their teams at the moment is huge.

So say no to things, be a bit more selfish, and don’t try to be everything to everyone all time. Do whatever you need to make sure you bring the best version of yourself to work.

Oliva therapist photograph

by Oliva therapist