What Is the Great Resignation and How Should it Shape Hiring?

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Posted by: David Garcia December 15, 2021

After nearly two years of uncertainty in public health and job security, workers are holding firm to their boundaries and resigning from jobs that aren’t paying enough, offering enough flexibility, or fulfilling their other job-related needs.

This change has resulted in what many call “The Great Resignation.” As an employer, you’ve likely seen the impacts of this wave first hand, whether through resignations themselves or unwavering demands for workplace change to retain talent.

The Great Resignation is changing the playing field for all, from the workers to HR departments. It will change the future of work as we know it, including how workers field positions, how employers recruit, how hiring decisions are made, and even how existing employees are treated.

Understanding where this trend has stemmed from and what it means for the future can help employers like you find ways to retain current employees and keep them happy and fulfilled.

What Is the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation, also called “The Big Quit,” describes the ongoing trend of employees choosing to leave their jobs, which started in the spring of 2021 and continues today.

People are quitting at a record pace.

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that over 4 million US workers quit their jobs in July of 2021 alone. That’s more than 2% of our entire workforce.

These resignations also left a record-breaking number of open jobs by the end of the same month.

What Caused the Great Resignation?

Several circulating ideas explain the cause of this sudden uptick in resignations. Some say an overly generous government is to blame, enticing American workers to quit their jobs in favor of unemployment benefits.

Others point to decades of stagnant pay, with workers pushed to their limits by the additional challenges of the pandemic.

It’s likely a combination of forces including closed and re-opened businesses, a reshuffled population both location- and industry-wise, and the preference for remote jobs that have become more widely available.

Another area that is likely impacting the great resignation that you should carefully consider as an employer is how the pandemic and the increase in remote work has changed the way workers view their lives and the role of work.

Flexibility in roles is now of great importance. The option of hybrid work, both remote and in-office, is attractive to some. Others filter possible job opportunities to include only full-time remote positions.

Workers also want to be happier, more appreciated, and more secure in their industry and role. They are demanding better pay, more benefits, a more robust work/life balance, and a better outlook for a future career.

How Does the Great Resignation Shape the Future of Hiring?

The Great Resignation means you’ll need to step up your employee treatment and work culture. It also means you’ll need to consider the leverage workers now have during the hiring process.

You’re no longer fully in the driver’s seat. Potential new hires now have expectations and requirements that will need to be met to accept a new position.

You’ll need to show that your company values align with theirs, you offer (and deliver) a genuinely positive workplace culture, you have the flexibility to meet their unique needs, and you can provide a competitive salary and benefits package.

Some may argue that compensation is the most crucial factor in this debate. In some cases, salary and benefits do make or break a candidate’s choice to accept a new job.

But in other cases, what seals the deal is other incentives, like free healthcare, more time-off, hybrid or remote work environments, opportunities for advancement, and a workplace culture that is genuinely welcoming.

In high-skill fields especially, you need to understand that workers can afford to be choosy. They’ll expect a good community among employees, core values and beliefs alignment, and the right workplace atmosphere. If you don’t have it, hiring may prove difficult.

How to Boost Retention During the Great Resignation

Another thing you should put weight on as an employer is your current employee retention. Keeping employees happy right now may be challenging, but finding new ones to take their places is harder.

You’re better off financially and operationally as a company if you can find ways to retain your workers and keep them satisfied in their roles.

1. Incentivize Staying

Start by updating and improving your compensation package for current employees.

Consider adding bonuses, student loan repayments, WFH stipends, or other ways you can make it attractive to stay. You should also consider revisiting current salaries, hosting meetings with employees to learn what increases may be appropriate for different roles.

2. Invest in Employee and Family Care

You should also take more time and energy to acknowledge the personal sacrifices and family impact of working for your company.

Things such as mental health resources, subsidized daycare, parental leave, and paid time off can go a long way. Some employees will need more help than others.

Prepare to be flexible.

3. Don’t Fight Flexibility, Embrace It

If you’re still vehemently trying to fight flexibility and the possibility of hybrid or remote work, you’ll find it challenging to retain talent.

It’s now an expectation, not something that’s nice to have. Find ways to make work fit more smoothly into your workers’ lives.

4. Enhance Your Operational Purpose… and Apply It

Employees need their employers to have a greater purpose beyond a strong bottom line. They’re not just working for a company; they’re working for a company that aims to make the world a better place in some way.

Find that purpose and integrate it more into your company’s daily work. If your employees believe in your company’s goals and the steps your organization is taking to get there, they’ll be more loyal, especially in turbulent and uncertain times.

5. Prioritize Workplace Culture

Workplace culture, connection, and camaraderie are pivotal. Social connection in the workplace helps employees solidify a relationship with their employer. It also boosts productivity.

We’ve seen an uptick in company culture programs rolling out things like snack bars in the office, team outings, and volunteer days in recent years. While some of these cultural updates have seen positive results, others have missed the mark.

Strong workplace culture should be lived out day in and day out. What good is a snack bar if you’re not getting ample maternity leave? What is a volunteer day supposed to do if the employer lacks financial philanthropy?

It’s time to create, integrate, and maintain a positive work culture tirelessly. Ask your employees how the culture would improve their job and start there.

6. Provide Growth Opportunities

In many cases, employees leave their jobs in favor of something new. That means they feel stagnant in their current position.

You can avoid these feelings and resulting actions by providing ample opportunity for growth within your company. Consider more internal hires and more frequent position reviews to get the ball rolling.


The Great Resignation is not the end of the world for employers, but it has created a landscape where employers have to level up and improve what they’re bringing to the table to attract and retain top talent.

Part of finding the right talent is ensuring they align with your values and expectations via background checks.

Get in touch with ScoutLogic to learn more about our bespoke services and find the best new talent.

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