Every month since June of last year, more than 4 million workers quit their jobs. You read that correctly. Four million a month. The mass exodus became known as the “Great Resignation,” and while people were leaving for a variety of reasons, the primary drivers seemed to be new jobs offering more money and more flexibility.
However, according to a recent Harris Poll survey for USA Today, roughly one in five employees who quit during the past two years now regrets it. And only 26% say they like their new job enough to stay. It seems many job switchers feel the grass is not always greener—for them, the “great resignation” is more like the “great regret.”
The question looms: Why? What happened?
There are several theories to explain why so many people are unhappy with their job changes. The pandemic, of course, affected us all in many ways. Some of those who quit may have simply been burned out and felt in need of a change, but in their haste to leave failed to do proper due diligence on the new opportunities. Or perhaps new employers lured candidates with promises of flexible cultures and remote work, but the realities of their workplaces didn’t match the new employees’ expectations. Or perhaps the employee was wooed by a higher salary and thought the daily tasks or company culture were less important to them, only to discover that those things matter more to them than they realized. You can’t put a price on feeling valued, after all.
Much like the “great resignation,” the “great regret” has highlighted how important it is for employees and employers to be on the same page when it comes to work expectations, culture, flexibility and more. Luckily, there are ways to ensure that, as an employer, you hire only those people who are truly the right fit for your organization.
“Companies can avoid the Great Regret altogether by being proactive and constantly ensuring the culture is optimal,” Bernard Coleman, head of employee engagement at Gusto, writes in Inc.com. “There’s a saying that the best offense is a good defense. And that defense is focusing on the fundamentals of what makes an extraordinary environment and reminds staff why they stay or joined in the first place.”
In other words, focus on your values, and make sure they are aligned with those of your current employees and future hires. When interviewing, make sure you screen for “fit”—don’t let your eagerness (or desperation) to hire blind you. At WAHVE, we go through a comprehensive blind screening process that ensures potential employees fit well within our organizational culture.
Also, keep the lines of communication open. By checking in regularly with your staff, you can identify reasons why they might want to leave and address issues before you lose talented people. This regular communication—and follow up with action—also shows you take their feedback seriously and value their input. When it comes to solutions, though, remember it’s not simply about office perks, but rather about giving your people the right tools they need to do their jobs and listening to their challenges and suggestions. It means making fundamental changes such as implementing flexible schedules and facilitating remote work. And don’t just say you’re doing these things, either: Actually live it. Highlight employees who are engaging in these activities, particularly c-suite executives. Culture comes from the top.
Finally, consider drawing good talent back into the fold if they’re interested in returning. Inc.com suggests implementing an alumni program. “Communicate the latest news, and share cultural moments and all the great things they're missing. The grass is often not greener, and former talent might just need a nudge to consider coming back.”
By being authentic, communicative, flexible and proactive, we, as business leaders, can ensure that both our organizations and our people are fulfilled and inspired—and avoid the “great regret.”