The Great Resignation is Here. Now What?

November 10, 2021

Now more than ever in recent memory, employees are rethinking their values and opting for change. The availability of Covid vaccines has, for many, meant a return to the workplace, at last. But, on the flip side, 2021 has become the year of “The Great Resignation.”

Employees are re-evaluating their life priorities and many are choosing to change employers, change careers, or even leave the workforce entirely. Has that happened yet, or is that at risk of happening at your firm? If you answered yes, you’re definitely not alone.

By the Numbers

A recent Microsoft Work Trend Index reported as many as 40% of employees want to change jobs this year (1). That survey was neither small nor isolated—Microsoft interviewed over 30,000 people in 31 countries, and additionally analyzed trillions of online activities and messages.

This exodus presents a challenge for employers on many levels—not the least of which is figuring out how to keep employees happy in this new landscape, while also inspiring ever-higher sales, marketing and/or performance goals.

While it may seem a simple question to ask: “What do our employees really want?” the answers are as varied and complex as the makeup of today’s workforce. Tried and true programs and practices that worked for you in the past may no longer hold the same allure. What’s an employer to do?

The Incentive Industry As Your Expert Resource

This is where the expertise of the incentive industry specialist is so important, as properly designing a recognition, incentive and/or rewards program is not a simple process.

While in the past, you or your sales, marketing or HR manager might have come up with a plan, maybe even working collaboratively across departments, chances are good that you or they won’t have the same expertise as an incentive industry expert. As a friend recently put it to me, “specialists aren’t specialists for nothing.”

The importance—and therefore the value to your company—of a properly thought-out and executed employee recognition and rewards program cannot be overstated.

It may be hard to put an actual value on the cost of keeping a valued employee from jumping ship. But think about the intangibles: avoiding the cost, time lost and hassle of constantly having to attract, interview, hire and train up new employees. Further, happy employees tend to perform better, achieve more, and inspire others to do the same.

Program Design Considerations

Whether crafting a program to promote employee happiness and therefore company loyalty, or a program to incentivize achieving a sales highpoint or safety milestone, project completion or other company or departmental objective, there are dozens of considerations, best practices to emulate, as well as pitfalls to avoid.

Here are just a very few considerations that an industry expert can help you think through and then strategically plan for:

  • Are you designing your program based on incentives and rewards that appeal to you? Or are you focusing instead on your intended audience? It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that just because you would enjoy something—whether being highlighted in an article in the company newsletter; or being rewarded with merchandise, an experiential event, travel award, or any other type of incentive—your employees may not value that same reward.
  • Is the program structured to provide the flexibility for each employee to customize rewards to their own taste? If each employee has different wants, needs, interests, motivations and aspirations, what steps can you take to ensure the program isn’t just a one-size fits all approach?
  • Have you built in multiple touchpoints throughout the program to continuously  remind, inspire and motivate, enable easy tracking of progress towards goal, give them something exciting to talk about with colleagues/family/and friends as they work towards goal, as well as fondly remember well after the program is over? A properly-designed program gives you that opportunity to reinforce your messaging in many different ways, throughout the life of the program and beyond. Do you know how to build those touchpoints into your program? And, do you have systems in place to implement them?

  • How will you measure results against your goals? Going back to the “Great Resignation,” perhaps your goal is to decrease attrition and increase longevity within the firm. Alternately, perhaps your goal is to motivate teamwork, or higher sales goals. Do you know how to design your program for success?

These questions only begin to scratch the surface and hopefully give you food for thought. If you’d like to review how we can help with your goals, our experts would welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs.

1. Microsoft: Remote work is exhausting and we need to take action now.  Mary Branscombe, Tech Republic, CXO, March 22, 2021. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/microsoft-remote-work-is-exhausting-and-we-need-to-take-action-now/

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