Some quick stats:

  • About 4 million workers in the US quit in April, a 20-year record, the Labor Department said (BusinessInsider)
  • There were 9.3 million job vacancies at the end of April, another 20-year record (BusinessInsider)
  • 77% of executives plan to hire in the months ahead (West Monroe)
  • Job vacancies rose the most in the accommodation and food-service sectors (BusinessInsider)
  • Surveys show that “one-third (35%) of respondents said they would quit if Work from Home ended. (Robert Half and Blind)

What is happening? Why are people quitting?

We have come off of a year that was scary – physically, emotionally, financially – a total worldwide business and personal disruption. During this time many people reassessed where they are in their lives, what is important to them, what they want to do going forward.

Some of the reasons why people are quitting are thought to be:

  • The very real pandemic burnout
  • Many realized they preferred the flexibility of working from home or getting paid to stay at home (state and federal unemployment benefits)
  • Some employees feel there is a lack of career growth opportunities
  • A labor shortage
  • More companies are requiring people to come back to the office environment

All of these and more may play a part in this Great Resignation.

Once the vaccines started kicking in, people started feeling as if it was safer to reenter the world again, and businesses began opening up again. And business leaders expected things to go back to normal with their employees, too. Meaning, they’d come back to the office, work the hours at the speed and intensity they did before the pandemic.

But some employees don’t want to go back to the way it was and have chosen to say instead – I Quit!

They like not having the long commutes in growing traffic. They like working at their pace and not one dictated by the micromanagers hovering over them in the office. Or they realized they hated their jobs and wanted something that excites them. They want more opportunities, business stability, a positive environment, and strong leadership.

People seem to be leaving their jobs to look for work with more money, more flexibility, and more happiness. This time feels like an opportunity to start over – try something new, more meaningful, and giving them more time for family and outside activities as well. It’s as if the slate’s been wiped clean and they can begin anew!

But how to combat The Great Resignation?

We talked last month about the need to have a clear vision, values, and direction for the company. Sharing them with everyone – employees, clients, vendors. But no matter how clear you are in who you are and where you’re going, if you don’t have the right people in place, you won’t get there.

People are at the heart of every successful business, no matter what industry it is in. No matter how slick your business model is or how convenient your product or service, it won’t go very far without great employees. A company’s people are the critical ingredient for long term success. Without them, your products and services, no matter how good, will flounder.

So how do you encourage your best employees to return to work?

Some of the recommendations from experts at Forbes, NPR, CNBC, Harvard Business School, and more, are:

  • Be flexible. If employees can work from home, why not let them? Most employees are not opposed to a hybrid schedule and are open to coming in one or two days a week.
    Return to work plans with 4 days required in the office were associated with the highest predicted attrition. Lower attrition was predicted for organizations with return to work plans ranging from 1-3 required days in the office,” says David Niu, CEO and founder of TINYpulse. Based on these findings, “hybrid work was rated as best for optimizing employee performance, reducing turnover, and it strikes a middle ground in terms of limiting employee emotional exhaustion.”
  • Review your corporate culture. Employees want to feel like they are a part of an organization that genuinely cares about them, the community they are in and the world at large. Think about the culture you have created to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment with a greater purpose. Do you as leaders and the vast majority of your team members live your values on a daily basis? Build a culture of trust.
  • Develop your employees. Like a teaching hospital pushes challenging surgeries on their interns and residents, push your employees to learn from someone with more experience by practicing the skill with that expert. Not just watching them do it (or, worse, having them watch a video and then expect them to do it as well as the expert!). In addition to developing the employees, it develops the managers in working together to determine which employees they should recommend for new opportunities across your teams.
  • Be a great place to learn. By building a culture of innovation, learning and recognition, people feel valued for their ideas, their contributions. In my corporate days we would host “hackathons” where people across the company submitted ideas for improving or creating a new product or service. When the topics were approved, they were given a certain amount of time to produce a working prototype and there was a pitch to the leaders of the organization at the end of the competition. Many great ideas were put into practice through these events and the employees got recognition and a monetary bonus!
  • Link work to social impact. Show how your company adds value to your community, your society, and how the employees can participate in being part of something bigger than they can do on their own. Ensure your social impact is aligned with the company values.
  • Review your compensation and benefits. Employees aren’t always looking for a higher salary. In fact, 2 out of 3 Americans have said they would take up to a 25% pay cut to be able to stay working from home full time. Other perks are just as enticing, such as a fully remote or hybrid work schedule, additional paid time off, paid parental leave and paid time off to volunteer.
  • Create work-life boundaries. Research is showing that employees are working an average of 2 hours more a day than pre-pandemic. While the excessive number of emails and texts and calls “after” work hours was noticeable before 2020, it seems to have increased dramatically since 2020. Create a “you don’t have to respond during these hours” policy.


Your focus on getting the right people into the right seats is vital to the success of your company. And these seven ideas are some of the ways you can entice people into coming back into your company from home and enticing the best of the best to come work with your company vs another.

Be clear in your vision and values. Know what constitutes a right person (they live your values most of the time and fit into your company culture) in the right seat (they get the job, they have a God-given talent and brain bent to do that job, they want to do it, and they have the time and training and capacity to do the job well) for your company. And be diligent at hiring the right people not just “a body”. People know when they’re a cog in the wheel and when they are valued members of a tribe all striving to achieve your vision while living your values.

This is not an us vs them scenario. Don’t make it one. This is an opportunity to create a place where people want to spend their time, they feel valued, they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. And your company will be successful.