Mark LeBusque

Are we really in the midst of the great staff resignation tsunami? Why it could be a myth.

Don’t get seduced by the next shiny thing because you’ll get caught up chasing shiny things and that will keep you from addressing what you really need to accomplish.” – Joe Tripodi

We humans love shiny things as they provide a sense of distraction and attractiveness that allow us to for a brief (or prolonged) moment to avoid the more boring (code for hard) elements of our day-to-day work, writes Mark LeBusque.

One might even suggest we are always on the hunt for shiny things because we look for stories that suit the narratives we have running around in our heads. These stories are more often than not driven by a need to survive, source and sense danger to our existence. At times, they can help us practice the skilful art of work avoidance, or even worse give us an excuse for why things aren’t going according to plan.

Oh, and shiny things have an incredible ability to spread very quickly through the human population, either through word of mouth or media exposure (usually both).

You know exactly how it goes:

“Did you hear about the…?”

“We must get on top of the…”

“Our very survival depends on coming up with a strategy to combat the…”

The great resignation tsunami

One of the biggest shiny things right now is talk of “The Great Resignation”, or as I’ve also heard it called, the ‘Turnover Tsunami’.

Here’s some of the shininess (insert fearmongering) captured in some headlines:

  • The Great Resignation Is Here And It’s Real – Inc.
  • The Great Resignation Is Here And No-one Is Prepared – WIRED UK
  • The Great Resignation – How Employers Drove Workers To Quit – BBC
  • Employers Fear Effects of The Great Resignation – Business Wire
  • Great Resignation Waves Coming for Companies – Axios
  • Should You Join The Great Resignation Club? – Jessie Vee

If you are a manager, business owner or Head of People and Culture, is it time to panic and start chasing shiny things because of a sample of one- or two-months data on resignations, or a survey on intentions to resign have become the newest and shiniest ‘shiny thing’?

In his article called It’s not the ‘Great Resignation’ but the ‘Great Reprioritisation’ Scott Dust offers this – “The other commonly cited statistic behind the assumption of the Great Resignation is that as many as 95% of the workforce is considering leaving their organization. It’s important to note that considering is not the same as actually leaving, and the fact that employees have an eye out for new opportunities has been the norm since LinkedIn became a household name”.

Is it a time to also be wary of ‘consultants bearing gifts’ in the form of surveys and strategies to ensure that your business is not decimated in a mass exodus through ‘The Great Resignation’ or ‘Turnover Tsunami’? I think they wrap it up in a neat little bundle and call it ‘futureproofing’ your business.

While you’re at it, also be wary of taking the easy option here and justifying that people may be leaving your organisation 100% due to the fallout from the pandemic as this is another way of avoiding the work of understanding your part in the mess.

Whilst there has been a spike in resignations and intentions to resign, it is also worth noting that although the ‘Great Resignation’ or the ‘Turnover Tsunami’ is a topic that has emerged during the pandemic:

  • Average turnover rates have been increasing across all organisation sizes ever since 2015
  • Burnout has been rising for years despite the pandemic – Fifty-three per cent of Millennials were already burned-out pre-pandemic (Indeed)
  • Disengagement rates have increased since 2013
  • On average, in Australia, an individual changes their careers five to seven times within their lifetime.

If you’ve missed the hullabaloo, and chosen not to be distracted by shiny things, or deflect your part in the mess to a convenient global excuse, then it may be that you have been addressing the real work and to that I say congratulations!

So, my question to you is a simple one:

Is there really a great resignation or have you been caught in the trap of going after the next shiny thing?