The "Great Resignation"? We've all heard and some have panicked about it. Words like "shock waves", "alarming" and "devastating" are used as click bait in the articles we're all reading.
Why do people resign?
Because they see more growth in taking their career elsewhere - it's true that for many employees, actually, they would see much more career and skill growth by experiencing a different environment;
They feel undervalued, overworked or the culture doesn't fit where they are - in which case, they are not respecting themselves by staying; or
The mechanics don't work - they can get paid more, work fewer hours, work from home more somewhere else. One of work's uncomfortable truths is that generally the most likely means to change these things is to go to a different employer who operates in a different way. And that's ok.
What to do?
The expert suggestions always land on retention strategies as a first defence and these all feel a bit same ol' same ol'. Leadership, relationships, development, culture, remuneration and benefits - we've heard it all before. At Fortis St, we absolutely agree all of these things are important to do well. The bad news is if that's your strategy, that's just table stakes because everyone else is already doing it. Doing those things won't differentiate you from another employer nor necessarily meet the fundamental impetus that is causing the employee to look for another role.
What about if we turned the idea of resignation on its head? Radical idea we know - but maybe it's actually a good thing - for the employee, the company, business and society in general.
Let's step away from the short-term thinking of change aversion and productivity concerns and take a medium-term view where organisations and individuals continuously evolve and develop into better versions of themselves. To evolve, change and discomfort must happen.
For the employee, it's an opportunity to grow skills and experience, develop their resilience further by putting themselves outside of their place of comfort and to grow personally in their work and life satisfaction. Taking a new job is a step towards self-actualisation.
For their employer, it's sad when great people go. However, it's also the opportunity to bring people with different perspectives and views into the business, to challenge the ways of working and to find new paths to walk along. If you do it right, your leaver will want to come back in three years' time with all of their freshly developed skills and ideas. Maybe all of that money we've been spending on trying to retain people, almost treating people like pets we don't want to stray, would be better spent on retaining great relationships, building genuine alumni and networks and finding opportunities to work together again in the future.
More broadly, seeing talent, skills and capability move around industries and geographically around the country has to be great for a rising tide of capability everywhere. This change dynamic drives growth, innovation and career and life satisfaction which contribute to business and societal potential being optimised.
We suggest the next time one of your team resigns, don't panic. Think about the possibilities, thank them sincerely for all their contributions, book in your first coffee catch-up a month after they have left and keep them warm to get them back in three years' time (or into the new business you've moved into...) with all their new capabilities and motivation. Find that little superstar that will bring challenge, momentum and ideas into your team and business.
Start with the possibilities and instead of seeing resignations as challenge, we might just see growth.