Why do people leave organisations? #TheGreatResignation

Why your organisation has to act differently and has to do so now

Again this month, a record-high number of people handed in their notice, quit their jobs, decided not to work for their organisations anymore.

Photo by Roth Melinda on Unsplash

This trend is neither temporary nor is it a local phenomenon. Complaining about people being unwilling to work, having too high expectations or unreasonable demands became a sport, especially practised by outstandingly bad leaders who have understood little to nothing of what is yet to come.

On Social Media, #TheGreatResignation is trending on many platforms. People use this hashtag to show how they quit their jobs, often accompanied by publishing or leaking shocking documentations of the working conditions they had to face daily.

How will your organisation deal with recent developments?

The global trend, the local accountability

Having a job in many countries is essential even to secure the most basic needs. However, countless people left their jobs even in countries with few social security systems in place, e.g. the United States of America. The economist Lawrence Katz in an interview with The Harvard Gazette gave insight into the motivation for people doing so.

“[…] what we do see is a lot of people asking about getting remote work, for example, and a lot of people questioning low-wage, high-turnover situations […]” is his sobering analysis (Source).

The main issue here is complex as your organisation will suffer from its weakest link in a whole chain of action inside and outside the hierarchical pyramid. Professional qualifications for leaders must be delivered on any level of the organisation. It is the employer’s task to guarantee that this happens. When just one small team leader commits misconduct, even on the operational level, all it needs is a viral posting on social media to create global damage to your employer’s brand.

Organisations have to accept that professional and ongoing qualification of your staff to do their job tasks is an employer’s task to fulfil.

The global trend of leaving toxic work environments includes accountability for every leader from the international to the local level.

The Great Disconnect

People feel disconnected from their organisations. McKinsey took a scientific look and portrayed the situation using valid and reliable data.

With the headline “The great attrition stems from a great disconnect”, the article clearly states that “There’s a clear disconnect between why employers think their employees are leaving and the actual reasons behind employee exits.”. (Source)

Employers focus on aspects that they can handle quickly and which has the highest benefits for them. Pay more, keep people productive, prevent them from being approached by another company, or start looking for another job.

However, employees care more about aspects of work that cannot be purchased with an off-the-shelf solution, aspects that take time to implement, and aspects based on interactions between humans. Being valued, working in a great team, a sense of belonging and trust.

The result of McKinsey’s study unambiguously delivers the evidence that organisations fear the most to admit: another severe failure on the senior leadership level.

Leadership Relevance

We see, again, that leaders often follow the wrong approach. When making a decision, consider one aspect first: it is never about you.

When you try to attract, win, retain and develop talent for your organisation, no one cares about your views, your experiences from the past of how hard you worked your way up and which steps you had to undertake back in the days when doing so. Great work — no one would deny that you did well. However, what worked back then often does not work anymore today.

Take a moment, sit down and practice a part of a technique called Reverse Recruiting. Look at your job ads, the way people have to apply, the process they have to go through and the time it takes compared to the benefits they get in return. Now ask yourself: would you apply for a job at your organisation?

“Honestly, no.” is what a senior leader in a workshop I led recently said. It was the start of a significant and successful change in that leader’s organisation.

It is a well-known and science-backed fact that empathy is not commonly known on the senior leadership level. That might be helpful to make certain decisions; however, it is not beneficial when you plan to create a workplace that people consider their best pick when it comes to choosing from the wide range of available jobs on the market.

You cannot learn empathy. You can learn empathic behaviour. There is no excuse for you as a leader not to deliver on the promises which your organisation made to applicants in the first place.

Failing to deliver on these promises led to where we are now: #TheGreatResignation.

Time to deliver the promises made and to live by the values your organisation claim to have.

Attracting, winning, retaining, and developing talent which stays in your organisation for a long time is important for you?
Let’s talk: NB@NB-Networks.com.



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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt


Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.