Don’t let history repeat itself (avoiding The Great Resignation pt. 2)

According to our calculations (and educated hypotheses), you might be getting a rare chance to let history… NOT repeat itself.

Why? We think you’re going to experience a brief pause in turnover for the next few months. But… don’t get comfortable. It doesn’t mean The Great Resignation is over.

Here’s what we want you to watch out for: the mistake we saw a lot of companies make in 2020 (hint: they ignored the 2019 warning signs).

A lot of companies’ last few years looked like this:

2019: you were experiencing a mass exodus.

2020 came and:… well, we all know what happened. But for the sake of this, departures paused (for the most part).

2021 came and: … hello, mass-exodus (cont. from 2019), also known as “The Great Resignation.”

2022 came and:… the attrition trend still continued.

2022 Q3 came and:… talks of recession started circulating. (And maybe your attrition started to show signs of slowing down…). 

If this hits close to home, we’re sorry. But, we want to help you course correct.

This is both good and bad news for you.

The good news = attrition slows

Bad news = the problems aren’t resolved

But first, let’s look at what happened between 2019 and now.

Your employees were watching your every move like a hawk in 2020. How did my company handle communication? How are they responding to the outside world? How often is my leadership team checking in? How are we handling mental health conversations?

If you missed any of those — you likely experienced 2019 all over again in 2021. But worse.

We know, this is a lot of doom and gloom. We’re getting to the “OK, so what now?” part.

If you made the mistake in 2020 of not focusing on fixing whatever was causing the bleed in 2019… well, first of all, you weren’t alone. But, more importantly (no sense in trying to re-write the past), you have an opportunity to do it now.

You have warm bodies in seats waiting to see what will unfold and wondering — “Will hiring freezes be lifted? Will layoffs continue? Is this a good time to continue my search or should I stop until I know what the future holds?”

Good news part 2: They have the answers to your most burning questions:

  • “Why is everyone leaving?”
  • “What is it others are in search of?”
  • “What would be the one thing you would change if you could?”
  • “How well do you think we walk the talk?”

So ask them. If you need to lean on the recession or layoffs to start the conversation and lean into vulnerability, do it.

Here’s a starting talk track for you:

Hey [direct report], I value your opinion and wanted to pick your brain about something before we dive into our usual 1:1 topics today. There’s been a lot of talk around recession, layoffs, hiring freezes, and also a decent amount of turnover in the past few months. I’m always looking for ways to improve our team, cross-team relationships, or department overall. I have some of my own thoughts, but I’d love to hear what you think some of the most pressing issues we face on this team are.” Insert silence, your long-lost friend.

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