How to survive the “great resignation”

There’s a powerful solution to help both retain your top people and recruit new talent


We are in the throes of a “great resignation” that’s bigger and sooner than anyone expected.

According to the Department of Labor, a record four million workers quit in April alone, and Gallup research finds that 48 percent of our working population is currently searching actively for a job or watching for new opportunities.

Pandemic fatigue, burnout, unwanted return-to-workplace requirements, and rethinking what truly matters in life are major reasons contributing to this title wave of leaving. There’s a powerful solution to help both retain your top people and recruit new talent: Create a workplace culture built on faith and trust.

Today’s workers are rejecting our traditional hierarchical workplaces, where leaders were the decision makers, employees weren’t trusted to get the work done without close monitoring, and there was little faith between the ranks of leadership and employee. The fact is that workplaces have been changing for many years, driven early on by Millennials and Gen Z who demanded more inclusive and motivating work environments. Then all six working generations joined them in wanting more purpose, work/life balance, flexibility, and inclusion from employers. People now expect empathy and transparency from their leaders; they want leaders who dare to care about them as human beings. Unfortunately, too many leaders haven’t listened—and the price is the great resignation.

The challenges and uncertainties we face on so many levels make it seem easy to go back to the way it was. Our old work practices are associated with “normal,” and it’s much easier to go back to the status quo than pioneer change. Sadly, that is what I am seeing happen in workplaces everywhere. “Let’s bring everyone back to the office and be ‘normal’ again” isn’t possible—or desirable. And employees are having none of it. The are looking for companies that trust them to work from anywhere they choose, or at least make the commute to work only a day or two a week in a hybrid of at-work and remote.

Navigating the new hybrid work environment is complicated by having multiple groups participating in different ways. First, we have customers who may be remote, in person, or hybrid. Second, we have employees who are remote, in person, or hybrid. Same issues to handle, but too often the sole focus is on serving the customer and the employee experience is brushed aside. This leaves your employees high and dry and without proper support in our world of stress and unrest. This is not only bad practice; it is a recipe for failure. Supporting employees and keeping them happy greatly increases your ability to retain top talent and ensure a positive customer experience that leads to company growth. Business success today is based on how flexible and humane you are rather than how much control you have.

Whether people work in the office, remotely, or a hybrid, leaders must realize that employees are shifting from a “work to live” to a “live to work” mentality. In order to keep your people, you must make the necessary cultural shifts to meet employees where they are. As employers, we must remember that we are not just hiring someone with a certain skill set; we are hiring a whole person who has a life outside of work.

The reason people leave is not about the money or the perks. It’s about whether you put your people first, clearing a path for them to succeed and staying out of their way. Change is hard, but it creates unimagined opportunity that begins with building faith and trust between you and your employees. This is how you win and keep top talent today, as they search for an employer who dares to care about them.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw Kathleen Quinn Votaw is CEO of TalenTrust. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle; How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuted in February 2016. Her firm has achieved several awards, including recognition from Inc.5000 in 2015 and 2016. She speaks frequently and advises CEOs on trends in talent and how to be strategic in developing a people strategy. Kathleen has served on several nonprofit boards including Colorado Companies to Watch and ACG-Denver. Reach Kathleen at or 303-838-3334.

Categories: Business Insights, Management & Leadership