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The Great resignation also known as the Big Quit, is the ongoing trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs, from spring 2021 to the present. It’s particularly amazing for me because just a few months before, unemployment and underemployment were the BIG news and concerns.

Like every other spectacular period in human history, for example, the Great Depression, Baby Boom, etc, the great resignation has a lot of lessons to learn from. The labour market is getting fierce and as much as we can’t keep people forever, we can keep them for a very long time if we create the right environment and experience. Only once in my lifetime have, I met a person who told me he is fully satisfied with his job and will never consider leaving. He works at the top 10% executive level of a multinational company with a 2,000+ workforce. With over 15 years of service. Many things contribute to why he doesn’t consider leaving – one of which was that he found his future in the organization. He got married, had kids and other achievements, still comfortably working in this place.

Companies must begin to take a data-driven approach to employee retention. Whilst we can learn why people exist, there is a lot more to learn on why people stay. Do not interpret employee retention for employee satisfaction. According to HBR, many mid-level workers were believed to have considered resignation a long time ago.

The ongoing scarcity in the labour market should concern you because when supply is lower than demand, the price will rise. An ongoing war for talent pushed top businesses in the last months to offer sign-on bonuses, higher wages, and free tuition to attract and retain people.

@Forbe defines the “Great Resignation” as a sort of workers’ revolution and uprising against bad bosses and tone-deaf companies that refuse to pay well and take advantage of their staff”. What struck me the most was that the motivator factor on why they joined new companies was the same (in opposite) of what they did not find in their old places, but the percentages were higher for the new place. In principle, it was the absence of certain factors (ie. Lack of flexibility and compensation & benefits) that dissatisfied them. I think it’s high time we take a data-driven approach to resolving retention problems. Customer satisfaction is either an output of burned-out loyal employees or passionate satisfied employees. Do all your best to be in the latter category.

The big lesson from the Great resignation are;

  1. Invest in a functional & strategic human resource department with HR professionals
  2. Remember, you can never cheat people forever. One day, like today, employees will find their voice and revolt in frustration against exploitation.
  3. Your employees are indispensable like your customers. They are your first internal customers, serve them well first.
  4. People stay where they see a future.

How would the classic Herzberg Hygiene (dissatisfiers) and Motivator (satisfiers) factor theory apply in the 21st-century pandemic Great Resignation era?

We’ll get into it shortly.

First according to Forbes, “this is the perfect time for business leaders to take action and look after their employees.” I agree strongly because many organizations have still not placed a premium on the pivotal role of employees in their company. The employee experience must work side-by-side with the customer experience. Studies in the US showed that employees were so dissatisfied with their situation that more than one-quarter (28%) of all respondents left their jobs without another job lined up.

Hygiene factors are the separate set of factors that cause dissatisfaction whilst motivator factors are those that cause motivation. When hygiene factors are absent, they cause dissatisfaction but may not necessarily cause motivation when present. When motivator factors are absent, they do not necessarily cause dissatisfaction, but they do not foster growth or boost employees to achieve more. The strategy is simple, provide both factors and reduce one to increase the other. Let’s discuss this data.

What the job switcher sought out in a new job.  Reasons why the job switcher left the old job.  
Ability to work remotely according to personal preference: 40%  Insufficient benefits: 19%  
Better compensation: 37%  Lack of flexibility: 20%  
Better management: 31%  Better management: 31%  
Better company reputation: 29%  Better company reputation: 29%  
Better work-life balance: 26%  Better work-life balance: 26%  
Flexible work schedule: ​​24%   
Table 1: Computed by the author from findings of Limeade in Forbes. Read more on

From the table above, benefits and flexibility appear in both columns but in varying degrees (higher in why they chose the new place). These factors are easily categorized in today’s business world as ‘hygiene factors’ but hygiene factors are not to be discarded. In principle, this analysis shows that the absence or lower level of operating the factors of compensation had a bearing on the reason the employee considered the new place. We cannot escape the relevance of both hygiene and motivator factors. As much as we must motivate people, we must also not dissatisfy them.
There are more Talent acquisition positions now than ever in history. Head-hunters are looking for your most valued asset. But you can keep them if you want them, and long enough. You must focus on human experience management (HXM), because the world is now in that place where employee satisfaction is the winning trick.

Whenever you hire, leave space for growth. Because employees stay where they see their future.

Elizabeth Ewudiwa

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