Expert Advice of the Month: Real or not, the ‘Great Resignation’ requires employers to pay attention to turnover

Sarah McVanel is the founder of Greatness Magnified, an organization that specializes in providing training programs and certifications for employees at large. She is a recognition expert, professional speaker, coach, author, and creator of F.R.O.G.—Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness. With 25-plus years of experience, she invigorates companies to see their people as exceptional so that, together, they can create a thriving culture where everyone belongs.

A recent Globe and Mail article claims that for those of us in Canada, the “Great Resignation” is not a real thing.

“Official” trend or not, I have clients in an unprecedented staffing crisis. For them, attracting, onboarding, and retaining top talent has never been more challenging. We need to talk about turnover and what to do about it.

Your biggest “competition” for talent isn’t necessarily other employers. You are at risk of losing your best people to the employee themself. Now, employees and leaders alike are making intentional choices about sticking with a company based on:

• Commute they can avoid

• Lifestyle they want

• Hobby they can turn into a business

• Side hustle they can scale up

• Team with people nicer to them

• Lifestyle changes they’ll make to compensate for less pay

In other words, people are redefining what career and life success looks like for them.

Employees, middle managers, and even executives are realizing they don’t have to sacrifice sleep, civility, lifestyle, focus, work-life balance, and happiness (among other things) in a role they climbed to because they thought they had to be there. The world of work is being redefined as you read this.

The Great Resignation—real or not—isn’t the issue. It’s a symptom.

Now, more than ever, we must pay close attention to employees to determine whether they find their work meaningful. Do they feel valued and appreciated, do their values align with the organization, and most of all, are they healthy and well?

These last 19-plus months have shown us that we have to cherish our health and decide what’s important to us. We are forever changed, and one of the first things to go was our assumptions about work.