We're ignoring the most pressing implications of the great resignation

Although exacerbated by the pandemic to record extremes, turnover and retention problems have been building for years. Based on the latest research in labor trends, here are three tips to reduce employee churn and keep your workers satisfied.

It is easy for most news outlets to concentrate on the more headline-grabbing aspects of what is now being called the Great Resignation—the recent pandemic-driven phenomenon in which droves of workers, particularly shift workers in the service industry, are quitting their jobs, leaving the job market in disarray.

As the demand for labor now vastly overshadows supply, companies across the country are racing to entice workers to apply, offering higher wages and increased benefits. For example, employers are attempting to "[throw] working parents a bone" in hopes that some may return, as evidenced by US McDonald's restaurants now offering childcare as an incentive for candidates to re-enter the job market.

Person looking unhappy while working behind the counter of a cafe

The stage for a labor shift of this magnitude may have been set long before the pandemic: 70% of businesses reported struggling with a talent shortage in 2019. This suggests a more pressing—albeit slightly uncomfortable—force behind the Great Resignation: lackluster employee experience.

America's service workers have been "systematically devalued for years." Despite working one or more jobs, "one in seven essential workers lacks health insurance, one in three lives in a household that makes less than $40,000 a year, [while] millions...rely on food stamps." Additionally, entry-level hourly roles tend to have less emphasis on long-term prospects, personal growth, or specific career pathways: low-wage industries offer workers less upward mobility, making a transition out of these roles difficult.

Short-term raises and one-time bonuses won't have the long-term effectiveness that service industry employers need to be successful in this economy.

With working conditions falling short in several ways, especially in the service industry, employers should focus on employees keeping jobs, not simply on candidates taking jobs. Short-term raises and one-time bonuses won't have the long-term effectiveness that service industry employers need to be successful in this economy; more permanent changes are necessary to ensure the effects of the Great Resignation are mitigated.

We've arrived at a point where our workforces are telling us there's a problem that needs to be fixed—so it's time to update your approach to managing your people. Here are our psychology team's tips to keep your team in tip-top shape.

1. Recognize and reward hard work

In a labor shortage such as this, quality hires are seemingly impossible to find, and the old business model of churning through new hires every few months doesn't seem to be working anymore. Just as "it's cheaper to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones," the same goes for employees.

Businessman holding a golden trophy to celebrate and recognize his good work

Investing in an employee goes beyond fairly compensating them for their hours of labor; in fact, research has shown the top drivers of job satisfaction are achievement, recognition, and growth—in other words, offer ample opportunities to grow and potential for recognition if you aim to boost employee satisfaction.

If you're wondering why you should invest in your people, chances are that your employees are wondering the same thing about you. Do you notice and reward their hard work and effort? What can you offer them if they go the extra mile? And most importantly, why should an employee want to stay at your company long term? The answers to these questions reveal how much you, as an employer, value and invest in your employees.

2. Create upward mobility by recruiting internally

It's a win-win (or as Michael Scott would say, a win-win-win): you get to save resources and hire someone who has already proven themselves to be high-performing, while your employees become more motivated knowing that there is potential for recognition based on merit. With the current job market making new hires even more elusive, "your next hire will come from within." Internal hiring is up 20 percent since the start of the pandemic, and HR departments are now "filled with internal headhunters" trying to find talent in-house for the many vacant roles.

3. Boost your efficiency with the right HR tech

If you're already practicing points one and two, sometimes the difference between missing your hiring goals and exceeding them is the right toolset. When a given job posting receives an average of 150 resumes, it can be an especially huge time sink to screen and prioritize candidates using traditional HR and talent acquisition practices. Leveraging a data science approach to automate parts of your talent acquisition workflow can streamline your hiring process and free up extra time to build up internal resources or manage culture fit.


Keeping your employees satisfied doesn't have to be an uphill battle. Providing internal advancement opportunities and rewarding the "extra mile" incentivizes work ownership by giving your employees the chance to prove themselves. Whether you have an abundance of candidates to go through, or more open positions than people to fill them, streamlining your hiring process with the right digital tools can help you better understand and utilize the unique personalities that make your workplace shine.


Need help improving your employee experience? Try Traitify.