How to survive the Great Resignation while growing your leadership

  • A woman submits a letter of resignation.

    A woman submits a letter of resignation.

By Paul Eccher
Vaya Group
Updated 1/27/2022 7:23 AM

The Department of Labor reported that Americans are leaving their jobs at the highest rates in recent history. A record-breaking 4.3 million employees quit their jobs in August 2021 alone.

As turnover rates climb, here's a five-step solution you can implement to address this problem, prepare for the business challenges ahead and secure your future workforce:


1. Embrace change

Welcoming change doesn't mean everything will be perfect, but it does mean that you're willing to adapt and grow with the times. Recognize that what built employee loyalty in the past may not work in the future. Look at your employees as treasured resources and seek new ways to earn their commitment.

2. Communicate transparently

Be open and transparent with your employees, but also strive for two-way communication from your workforce. This builds trust and deepens loyalty with employees, so that they feel heard and respected. During times of uncertainty, honesty and candor are always the best policies.

3. Promote engagement

Create opportunities for engagement by encouraging dialogue between managers and employees on topics such as the company's vision, values and objectives, and how they are aligned with their own personal goals. Inviting employees to participate in company-sponsored volunteer efforts is a great way to create a more connected community within the workplace.

4. Train to retain

Employees need and want to feel valued. By investing in their continued training and professional development, you're demonstrating your commitment to their growth and long-term future with your organization. This can greatly reduce feelings of isolation and help prevent unnecessary resignations.

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5. Lead by example

As a leader of your organization, it's important to set the tone and show employees that you're taking these challenges seriously. Start with being a great listener to what employees are saying and what they are feeling. Model the behaviors you want to see in your workforce -- and helping the next generation of leaders to thrive.

Take emerging leaders to the next level

On this last point, growing your emerging leadership bench should be a top priority. Retaining good talent requires a forward-thinking mindset and a tangible action plan. You need to give your top talent a reason to stay. Here's how:

• Flexible learning: Today's employees are no longer looking for a one-size-fits-all approach to learning, but desire to learn in their own way. This can be done through self-paced online courses, on-the-job training, mentorship programs or a combination of several approaches.

• Room to innovate: Emerging leaders don't like to simply be told what to do; they need the opportunity to think for themselves and test new ideas in a safe, supportive environment. Empowered individuals often do their best work.


• Frequent feedback: Employees not only want input from their managers, but they also value feedback from their peers. Making this a regular part of your organization's culture can help fuse those critical connections that leaders seek to grow professionally.

• Shared team experiences: By creating opportunities for cohort-based learning and peers teaching and supporting each other, you can encourage developing leaders to feel more engaged and excited about their increased responsibilities.

• Freedom to fail: What sets good leaders apart is their ability to bounce back from setbacks and learn from their mistakes. Allow them the opportunity to do so. This way, they'll develop resilience and be able to shine in high-stress situations.

Beating the odds of the Great Resignation is possible when you're open to new ways to lead -- and to preparing your future leaders.

• Paul Eccher, Ph.D., is president and CEO of The Vaya Group in Warrenville.

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