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  The Great Resignation”. Please read the attached article and answer the following questions. 

  1. How has “The Great Resignation been felt in your organization?
  2. Of the seven tips for leaders listed in the article, which three do you think are most important, effective, or impactful?
  3. In your opinion, what steps can your organization take to become an employer of choice?



Do you have questions
or topics you’d like Jill to
address in a future column?
Email Crystal Milazzo,
HFMA senior editor, at

I regret to tell my friends in leadership and management that the Great resignation isn’t based on random anecdotes strung together and dubbed a phenomenon. there’s plenty of painful evidence to prove
it is the real deal.

People are quitting their jobs in startlingly high
numbers. A U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics report
says nearly 4 million Americans quit their jobs in
June this year — a huge jump over last year.a

And a Gallup analysis says up to 48% — you
read that right — 48% of workers are either look-
ing for a new job or actively considering it.b

Managers, that’s a challenge.

Some of it is pent-up demand for change. that’s
the view of Anthony Klotz, a business school pro-
fessor from texas A&M, who not only coined the
term Great Resignation, but also predicted its
arrival. Klotz saw employees were sheltering in
place during the pandemic, choosing not to leave

a. “Job openings and labor turnover summary,” U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics, Aug. 9, 2021; and “Quits levels and rates
by industry and region, seasonally adjusted,” U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics, Aug. 9, 2021.

b. Gandhi, V., and Robison, J., “The ‘Great Resignation’ is
really the ‘Great Discontent,’”, July 22, 2021.

jobs during such an uncertain time. Whether
they loved their work or not, they weren’t about
to risk their incomes or health insurance to make
a switch.c

It makes sense that, as we began to see signs
of pandemic recovery, people already itching for
new challenges felt more empowered to make
their moves.

but so many more things happened during the
pandemic that affected workers as never before.
For example, employees:
• Worked from home and found they liked it.
• recaptured time previously spent

• Helped educate their children in the safety of

their homes.
• Saved money they would have otherwise

spent on vacations and dining out.
• experienced loss and grief.
• Missed being with their extended families

when cOVID restrictions prohibited visits.
• Learned new skills via online classes.
• Kept greater distance from unpopular

managers or irritating colleagues.
• thought about their futures and what really

mattered to them going forward.

c. “Anthony Klotz on defining the Great Resignation,”

the Great Resignation:
reality or myth?

Whenever I hear about trends with catchy names — even those that
intuitively ring true to me — I do a little fact-checking. My latest probe:
The Great Resignation.

44 | HFM MAGAZINe | OctOber 2021


About the author

Jill Geisler is the Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media
Integrity, Loyola University Chicago, and a Freedom Forum
Institute Fellow in Women’s Leadership.

Any of these experiences may cause people
to rethink their current jobs and ask themselves
questions. Is my work truly rewarding? could I
do better? What are the economic consequences
of a change? Should I work less and spend more
time with family? could I earn more and do a job
I love?

employees may also be reassessing you,
their manager, and the culture over which you

Let’s assume that if you’re a leader reading this
column, you’re among the “good ones.” You’re
a continuous learner who cares about quality
leadership and workplaces. Here are seven steps
you can take right now to lessen the impact of
the Great resignation on your organization.

1 Go on a listening tour. Let people know their input matters in this time of reassessment.
talk about their work satisfaction, their chal-
lenges and their aspirations.

2 Be as flexible as you can when it comes to work arrangements. It’s possible to do
so while still meeting reasonable standards for
quality, productivity and service.

3 Make workplace safety paramount as the delta variant continues to bedevil us.
Advocate for and enforce cOVID protocols to
minimize peoples’ fear that their job may sicken
or even kill them.

4 Be especially sensitive to the abuse your customer-facing team may be enduring.
too often today, complaints about delays or er-
rors escalate into ugly invective — whether it’s in
a cafeteria, call center or helpline. Let your team
know that the customer isn’t always right when
they’re abusive, and create protocols for backup
and de-escalation, even to the point of severing a
business relationship with a bad actor or actress.

5 Have a plan for each person you lead. the more valuable they are for their skill set,

institutional knowledge, initiative, reliability
and collegiality, the more you need to focus on
retaining them. If they leave, you not only will
have a hard time finding another such gem, but
their departure can be a blow for overall morale.

6 Assume that everyone on your team takes a moment to look at their own situation
when other staffers move on — whether for
the best or worst of reasons. Am I ambitious
enough? could I land a cool job like that? Is my
job in any jeopardy? Work the room. talk to
people, so you can hear some dreams and allay
some fears.

7 Have a pipeline of potential hires. today, good managers should assume that their
people work with one eye on the door. they aren’t
disloyal; they’re pragmatic. In a world that rarely
promises people a job for life, or even routine
raises, why would we think they should lock them-
selves in? Your best efforts might not be a match
for a dream job elsewhere or a retirement acceler-
ated by pandemic lessons. but your pipeline can
keep you from lengthy gaps or hasty hires.

Finally, think of this as a moment for you and
your fellow leaders to strategize on how to
become — or remain — an employer of choice.
What story can you and your employees tell with
sincerity and specificity about your organiza-
tional culture, your pandemic learnings and your
diversity, equity and inclusion in staffing. How
about your pay, promotions and protocols?

Yes, even great workplaces see turnover.
Some staff will leave to pursue a bright new chal-
lenge or take a well-deserved rest. but if they’ve
left an employer of choice, they often will serve
as some of your best recruiters — and help you
turn a loss into a gain.

HFM MAGAZINe | OctOber 2021 | 45

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