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The Great Resignation: Transforming Obstacle into Opportunity

February 21, 2022

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a startling 4.5 million people—the highest number ever recorded—voluntarily left their jobs in November 2021.

From your local fast-food restaurant to manufacturing shops and the library down the street, it seems like every business, regardless of industry, size, or location, is hurting for people. There is no one more familiar with this phenomenon than human resource professionals. A survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. in 2021 found that 91 percent of HR leaders are increasingly concerned about employee turnover. The challenges faced by HR teams today are already varied and complex: engaging a remote/hybrid work environment, improving DE&I, compliance concerns, fostering a healthy work environment, and the list goes on…

On top of all that, the “Great Resignation” is proving to be a monumental challenge for HR leaders. But HR professionals who can turn this obstacle into an opportunity will become invaluable to their organizations. Those who understand what employees are running from and what they might gravitate to can use that knowledge to impart real change within their companies and make a lasting impact.

Where do we start? Before narrowing down solutions, it’s critical to understand what people are looking to get out of their work experience in today’s environment.

As cited by employees as they enter or exit an organization, these are some of the most common concerns impacting talent attraction and retention:

Sense of Purpose

What is your purpose as an organization? Now, more than ever, employees are paying attention to investment in the human aspects of work. They are questioning the meaning of the daily grind, crave a renewed sense of purpose in their work, and need to feel a sense of shared identity. Appealing to this need will require creative thinking about what makes your organization unique, how this links to your overall purpose, and why it’s valuable to all stakeholders involved. Companies that execute with purpose and clarity around who they are will generate long-term value and success.

A Clear Growth Path

Resignation rates are highest among mid-career employees. There are likely many reasons behind this, but one could be the lack of a clear future at your company. Career professionals want to see a clear, transparent path for growth at their companies. When organizations ensure that employees feel valued and see a strong career trajectory, there is little incentive for them to look elsewhere.

Unaddressed Burnout

Burnout, fueled by the pandemic and related factors, is impacting the mental health of employees across workforce demographics. People around the globe are drained, physically and emotionally. If your company isn’t acknowledging burnout and taking steps to accommodate the mental well-being of its people, those struggling will find a new employer who will. Talk openly about mental health and stressors in your organization and make sure you’re offering the right resources to help. Proactively encourage workers to use their PTO and give them the flexibility to do so. Employees who take an extended period off work are likely to return happier, more rested, and more productive.

View our on-demand webinar, “Wellness Reset: For Personal, Family and Professional Well-Being.”

Wellness Benefits

Employees are experiencing a greater number of challenges, from loss of childcare to financial instability, and are looking to their organization for support. Companies must ensure their employees’ holistic well-being. Because many people have experienced increased family care demands, consider expanding childcare, nursing services, or other family-focused benefits to show that you value them as whole people. Improving financial well-being is another opportunity to demonstrate employer support. Provide access to a finance professional, planning tools, and educational programs to improve your employees’ financial health.

View our latest article on “Workplace Safety and Health: How Employers Can Take Advantage of Wellness Dollar Utilization.”

The Employee Experience

Successful organizations work together with their people to create personalized, motivating and team-building experiences that strengthen individual and company performance. To build team morale and positive mindsets, encourage connectivity among employees, show appreciation and recognition, and listen to what your employees are looking for. Taking a genuine interest in employee feedback and showing that leadership is open to making the necessary improvements goes a long way.

Check out our blogs on “Overcoming Employee Communication Challenges” and “Effectively Communicating With Employees in a Hybrid Environment: Crain’s Cleveland Feature.”

Although the challenges currently facing most organizations are contributing additional stress, they also represent a big opportunity to listen, learn, and impart changes that will make a real difference in your organization.

What Organizational Leaders Can Do Now

Get involved with a strong cohort of peers to discuss the challenges you’re facing. Share what has worked and what hasn’t and learn from each other. Pay attention to and understand the reasons employees are leaving and act thoughtfully in the efforts you craft to entice them to stay.

“Every adversity contains, at the same time, a seed of equivalent opportunity!” -Napoleon Hill

Use this time to help lead your organization into a productive future by doing all you can to create a highly desirable workplace. The rewards for making this a priority will be happier, more productive employees who provide the stability and motivation necessary to a satisfying bottom line.

For more information, visit our Employee Benefits page or contact:

Maddie Rich
Advisor, Employee Benefits


Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.