The Great Resignation Skipped Us. Here’s why.

With the “Great Resignation” dominating national headlines and news broadcasts, the finer details impacting workplaces have been elevated to major national conversations. Even with a looming shift in the tide and a potential recession, employers must consider issues once left to the margins or only addressed by the most forward-thinking organizations, like mental health and wellness resources, pay transparency and how and why we bring staff together.

There has been plentiful coverage, over the last 18 months, of the ways companies can respond to a changing work environment in light of the pandemic’s impact on how people view their relationship with work and their employers. Numerous thought leaders have offered their advice for individuals making a career change and what to look for in a new employer. Others have focused on ways companies can adapt to be more attractive.

But change is hard. There will be growing pains all around, both for individuals and employers.

As a company on the receiving end of so many “resigners” and career-changers, we have some insights and tips not found on most lists. There are cultural attributes that make all the difference when someone is deciding to stay, leave or join a company. While compassionate leadership, excellent pay and an inclusive culture are critical, they are far easier said than done and don’t happen overnight. There are, however, a few short-term steps that companies can take to begin to shift their culture and protect and prevent against the next wave of resignations.

DEIA and strategy are as important as social culture. Employees hold power in what they value; when they communicate a need, it is our responsibility to try and meet it. The importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) is increasingly appreciated, with 35% of HR leaders making it a top priority this year. Your workers know when Corporate Social Responsibility is performative.

As companies make remote and hybrid environments more permanent and respond to the evolving marketplace for hiring, a few key steps can impact culture immediately. Some companies may struggle to hold onto what made them so great as they grow unless they pay careful attention. COVID took away not only our in-person business interactions, but the casual social conversations that are integral to daily life. Like so many other companies, we experienced the dilution of our workplace culture and had to identify new and better ways to hold onto what made us unique and special.

In order to promote and retain a company culture that aligns talent to meaningful work, companies must take intentional steps toward creating an inclusive environment. Birthday shout-outs and pub quizzes only go so far. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) took on a whole new meaning, particularly on the heels of a national and global social reckoning and increased discourse on a number of important issues. ERGs are affinity groups that are formally established, with support from our Human Resources team, leadership, and an executive sponsor who commits to supporting, mentoring, and guiding the ERG and its leaders. As such, ERGs at Amplify have a charter, goals, organizational structure, and budget. One exciting and gratifying collaboration was a Pride Prom hosted by our Pride ERG.

Transparency is also integral to our culture at Amplify, with every employee having access to and getting regular updates on our business strategy and priorities in biweekly Town Hall meetings led by our CEO. These are an important pulse check to know what's going well and where there are areas of opportunity we should prioritize. We take action to make sure there are real, authentic opportunities for employees to engage with each other beyond having fun. We host monthly new-hire sessions that function as a Meet & Greet. Our tutoring program has even offered in-person meet-ups centered around volunteering.

Bring your freelancers and even your vendors in-house. These individuals are nimble, entrepreneurial, and know your organization. Over 40 million people or a full 16% of American adults have been contract workers, and 56% of non-freelance workers are considering making the switch. Freelancers are looking for flexibility, earning potential, job variety, and satisfaction. If that can be offered, you may convince these talented people to join your team.

Hiring contractors or leased employees lessen geographic burdens, widens your talent pool, furthers Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) missions, and allows for flexibility in pursuing continually changing goals. Also, freelancers minimize stressful oversight, offer services in niche areas, and save companies money. We have seasonal and part-time staff to meet the needs of our business cycle, and also to serve as a pipeline to permanent placements.

Focus on what you are solving for, not your products and offerings. We know schools benefit from high-quality curricula and assessment materials, but our daily work and meetings go far beyond. Walk our halls (or Google Meets), and you hear people talking passionately about innovative mixes of technology and the arts in classrooms, debating best solutions to the literacy crisis, and generally trying to make the world a better place through the wonder of teaching and learning.  Our mission is everywhere. It’s printed on water bottles, referenced in planning meetings, used in training sessions. We speak about it as “our purpose” and it is very much a part of our day-to-day life. All of my colleagues are genuinely mission driven: from our IT department to our CEO, every single person is dedicated to making a positive impact for educators and their students. Get very clear on your mission and stay very close to it - remind employees all the time and help them stay in touch with it.

Whether the lessons from the last few years stick, across industries, we now know better. But it’s in the details and the persistence and patience that we can live up to the standards of our most important human resources. It’s energizing for human resources professionals to know that some smaller, albeit important steps can have a tremendous impact on culture and as a result, our colleagues.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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