Q&A: Strategies to Keep Your People in the Great Resignation

Lora Patterson, HR Advisor at Zenefits
Jul 15, 2021

In April 2021, more than 4 million US workers quit their jobs—the biggest spike on record. And the turnover is expected to continue. What can businesses do to retain employees during the Great Resignation? On this episode of POPS! Zenefits Senior HR Advisor Lora Patterson explains the key reasons why people are leaving their jobs […]

In April 2021, more than 4 million US workers quit their jobs—the biggest spike on record. And the turnover is expected to continue. What can businesses do to retain employees during the Great Resignation?

On this episode of POPS! Zenefits Senior HR Advisor Lora Patterson explains the key reasons why people are leaving their jobs and strategies companies can use to keep their best employees.

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On this Q&A, you’ll hear: 

  • [00:00-00:41] What is the Great Resignation? 
  • [00:41-01:40] How the pandemic altered how workers view their careers and lives
  • [01:40-03:31] The key reasons why employees may be considering a job change
  • [03:31-05:03] Why work-life balance matters to workers more than ever before
  • [05:03-05:49] Why it’s important to survey your workforce on their preferences
  • [05:49-06:37] Steps you can take to keep your workforce
  • [06:37-07:39] Step 1: Involve managers
  • [07:40-08:09] Step 2: Develop mentoring programs and build career paths
  • [08:09-10:16] Step 3: Identify at-risk workers
  • [10:17-10:35] Step 4: Identify departments or teams with particularly high turnover
  • [10:35-10:57] Reeling in employees who are checked out or disengaged

POPS Star Bio

Lora Patterson is an HR Advisor at Zenefits, where she advises clients on a broad range of human resources issues including employment laws and regulations, management practices, policies and procedures, and best practices regarding people management, development, and engagement. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.


Lora: How can I keep my employees during the great resignation?

Didi: Welcome to POPS, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time. Today, to help us answer your question. Here’s Lora Patterson, HR Advisor at Zenefits.

Lora: This last April, the U S had more than 4 million quit their jobs. According to the department of labor. This is the biggest spike on record. In addition to this, a Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions.

This year companies are calling this the great resignation and almost everyone is being affected while there are a lot of factors contributing to this great resignation. The core is how the pandemic altered, how workers view their career and how they view their lives. 2020 changed how employees did work, whether it was showing up to a workplace with heavy safety regulations or staying home and working remotely workers and heavy regulated fields now had to deal with customer frustrations, their own frustrations and ongoing demands from their company.

On top of that was their own fears around their safety and whether or not this was important to them. From a remote work standpoint, you had employees now being faced with just the day-to-day tasks of their job. They no longer have the perks of coming back into work over the weekend and chatting with their coworkers about what they did.

They didn’t have the massive sales kickoffs. They didn’t have company holiday parties instead. It was them and their laptop working to stay focused and driven. When you remove all the benefits and you strip a job down to the actual work, people are realizing they may not actually enjoy what they do. So let’s address concerns.

Many worker spaced, a lot of companies had massive layoffs or furloughs, and the employees left behind didn’t have the opportunity to grow within the company and something that goes hand-in-hand with this is salaries. Many companies had to forgo annual increases and balloons. Next thing to consider is a shift in priorities.

Many employees decided that maybe now is the time to pursue their dream job. They were reevaluating what they wanted out of work. And after year of feeling limited and scared, they now have the security to explore and invest in themselves. Some employees made the decision to become a stay-at-home parent, or maybe they’re thinking of that, right?

Maybe now’s the time for their family to have one parent stay at home while the other one works. Maybe the employees didn’t like how companies handled the pandemic and how they were treated. You had some companies that were going above and beyond to make their workers have flexibility and feel safe while others were asking questions.

Like, can I make them do this? Can I terminate them? If they don’t do this employees like to feel like they are dedicating their time to people who value that. Some employees wanted a better work-life balance. The employees that were left behind after the furloughs and layoffs now had to deal with additional work for the same salary.

Eagle hill actually surveyed a thousand workers who said they plan to quit their job this year because of burnout. So this feeling of being undervalued and overworked, especially during the pandemic may have left employees feeling like they need to change. According to a survey by blind of 3000 workers, 35% of employees said belly their job.

If they can not continue working remotely, I know there’s this feeling of let’s get back to normal, but for a lot of employees, the best thing to come from the pandemic was a shift in their normal chaotic routines. Remote work, allow people to spend more time with their friends and their friends. They had the flexibility to work in other states and possibly move to other locations.

And now that they’ve had this freedom, it may be a hard sell to then require employees to commute back into the office. I would recommend rethinking what normal means for your company. Maybe your normal is creating work from home policies that evaluate how well employees can perform in their preferred work.

These environments, could it be allowing them to stay remote opening offices for those who want to return, or even providing a hybrid work experience, survey your employees, see how they feel about returning to work. This will not only let you gauge their interests, but also let you know that you care about them.

If you can offer this benefit to employees who Excel in any working environment, it will help you retain your value to employees who prefer more flexibility. There’s only so much you can do to prevent employees leaving. Especially if it’s something they’d been considering for a long time, that being said, I still want review several steps.

You can take that. The first step is I would involve your managers in this. I would have managers use their one-on-ones to gauge employee satisfaction and work to ensure their needs are met. Those meetings should be a time when managers are asking what’s going well, what are you struggling with? Do you like the projects you’re working on?

Do you have a career path that excites you? This is an important thing to communicate frequently. Between managers and employees, I would especially recommend doing this with your top performance. If you have employees that you simply cannot lose, that I would make sure their managers are investing in their job satisfaction.

A big part of this job satisfaction is listening to employees, challenges and working to find solutions. If you have employees bringing up issues that they’re facing help find a solution, involve them in helping find the solution. Maybe even give them power to work on this by themselves. So they feel like that you not only value their opinion, but they have an active say in what’s happening in the company.

The next thing I would do is develop mentoring programs. If you have employees that want to share their knowledge or learn something new, these programs can be a great asset to have. They let employees know that you value education and development, and you want them to feel like they have multiple paths.

They can take it. Managers should know where their companies are in their career and where they want it. The next thing is identify at-risk workers. So these are people that at any point in time, you feel like you could possibly lose them because there’s been a shift in their life. The first at-risk worker is someone who has had a major life change.

This could be, you know, getting more education or maybe they just started a family, or they’ve started to get more certificates. If you see someone making these changes more than likely, they’re also thinking about how these changes will affect their. The next people do identify his parents would stay at home.

Especially in this last year with daycares and schools, closing parents had to figure out how to do their jobs and care for their kids. A major component to this is women specifically leaving the workforce to care for their family. In 2020 alone women globally lost more than 64 million jobs, which equals 5% of the total jobs held by them.

This is preventable. We need companies to see the value that women bring to the workforce and work with them to find a solution. The next people do identify is people who have missed out on promotions. If you had an employee applied for one or maybe multiple positions and they were passed over, they’re probably going to feel disappointed and possibly disillusioned.

If you know, there are. You know, other opportunities coming up or alternative career paths, you should explore it with them. Let them know that just because they didn’t get this one promotion, it doesn’t mean they’re in any way. Stuck. This pandemic brought about a lot of change. It changed how people viewed their lives.

It changed how they viewed their careers and it changed how they viewed the balance between the two. So during this great resignation, it’s important for companies to recognize this change and work with employees to find the new ones.

Didi: Do you have a question for our experts? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected]


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