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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Whited

The Great Resignation: An Obvious Problem and Solution

“The Great Resignation”, the name given by someone, somewhere to describe the mass exodus of people from traditional employment. You can find this title everywhere on the internet to draw attention to a micro view of what’s happening in the job market.

Dysfunctional Business Practices

When you look at it, it’s not hard to understand how we got here. Decades of relatively stagnate or falling wages in comparison to real cost of living increases, toxic corporate cultures, and a focus almost solely on short-term gains all deserve collective credit.

No sweat though, all of that can be fixed. The underlying problem however, that continues to kick this can down the road, is that organizations and business leaders don’t seem to know how to do that. Much like our political leaders, most are completely out of touch with their base. How can they solve a problem that they can’t even begin to comprehend?

Basic Needs

The first thing to note, is that although raising wages is certainly a welcomed start, it’s certainly not the sole solution. In the infamous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, money would fall into Tier 2 – Safety, as it represents a resource needed for survival. So, that means employers are just now really starting to provide their people with the second most basic need from an employment satisfaction standpoint.

As any business leader knows however, money alone is a short-term motivator, but for some reason they’re choosing to forget that. So, we continue to see the same tier 2 only approach in the form of copy/paste sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses, and the like. They are merely competing for the same limited (and quickly shrinking) pool of talent. That pool consists of those who still value pay over everything else or are at least willing to tolerate one toxic culture for a short amount of time before moving on to the next one (who is also offering a sign-on bonus of course). This has worked well enough historically mostly due to generational acceptance/tolerance of poor culture but is clearly not working now nor will it in the future.

Get Out of the Pool

Instead of doing laps in the same old lane, employers should instead, focus on attracting talent outside of that pool. The problem here, is that this takes a truly strategic, longer-term plan which most business leaders are not actually equipped for again, due to our capitalistic society rewarding short-term gains over everything else.

To attract additional pools of people, employers will need to move up a tier (preferably two) in Maslow’s Hierarchy. From an employment standpoint, Tier 3 – Love & Belonging, represents equity and inclusion. Tier 4 – Esteem, represents respect and recognition. These are the tiers employers will need to address to attract and retain talent. This requires a focus on leadership at all levels to create a workplace that promotes psychological safety, welcomes difficult conversations, understands people’s strengths and aligns their work with them, celebrates all forms of success both personally and professionally, and also allows for flexibility in the way people balance their work with the rest of their life.

If you’re an employer struggling to attract and retain talent, please reach out and we would be more than happy to help you create a path to success in this job market!


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