- Resignations have skyrocketed in recent years — 2021 and 2022 have had some especially high numbers — along with the coinage of the term, the Great Resignation.
- It’s important for employers to learn how to retain employees and give them opportunities to grow in the workplace.
- Professional development is important to employees, but there are also other factors that motivate them to write their resignation letters.
This article was written by Morgan Overcash.
Despite what people may think, employees aren’t resigning from their jobs without reason. There’s strong evidence that shows when employees aren’t given the opportunity to grow in the workplace, they leave.
What’s the current rate of resignation? How has the inability for employees to grow within the workplace affected this? How can employers work on retention?
Kajetan Von Armansperg, Co-CEO and founder of Leapsome, and Christina Gialleli, Director of People Ops at Epignosis, answer these questions and provide insight into the importance of employers letting their employees grow within their careers.
The current rate of resignation
In recent years, the rate at which people are resigning from their jobs has increased exponentially. It’s also no surprise to anyone that ever since 2020, the numbers have continued to rise, as employees began to realize that their efforts weren’t being rewarded.
The Great Resignation — a somewhat newer term that many are becoming more and more familiar with — refers to this increase in employees leaving their jobs. Even though this phrase was coined from a sudden jump in resignations in 2021, the numbers skyrocketed in 2022.
“While 2021 prompted The Great Resignation, 2022 seems to have been the year when massive resignation waves started occurring,” Director of People Ops at Epignosis Christina Gialleli said.
According to Co-CEO and founder of Leapsome Kajetan Von Armansperg, “It has been reported that 50 million workers quit their jobs in 2022 — breaking the rate of resignation in 2021, when the term the Great Resignation was first used.”
Even though the Great Resignation isn’t new — the statistics don’t lie, and if recent trends continue, we can expect to see resignations rise even more.
The truth behind the Great Resignation
So, what is the underlying motivation behind all these resignations? What’s driving employees from their jobs?
It’s the lack of opportunities to grow.
Von Armansperg told us that in Leapsome’s State of People Enablement survey, more than 50% of the people who responded wanted a workplace that encouraged feedback, goal setting and learning.
“Opportunities to learn, develop and grow professionally are compelling in retaining employees,” Von Armansperg said.
It’s not enough just being in a job or career they’re interested in or that fills their wallet — people want to be challenged, they want to grow, gain new skills, and push their limits.
Growth looks different for everyone, but it can’t be denied that employees have the desire to be creative and to engage and enjoy the work they do.
“According to a survey by TalentLMS, 75% of employees find training beneficial for their engagement at work, professional development (82%), and productivity (80%),” and “76% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training,” Gialleli said.
Training, providing opportunity and simply investing in employees’ wants and needs are some of the best ways to help encourage them to stay.
Employee retention — encouraging employees to stay
It’s in an organization’s best interest to retain as many employees as possible. However, with retention rates dropping like flies, how can employers motivate employees to stay?
Von Armansperg provided three prime actions companies can take to start putting their employees’ interests first:
Facilitate internal mobility: Even if employees have the opportunity to advance to new levels or positions within the company, without proper training or incentive, they won’t feel capable of handling the new responsibilities they’ll have to face.
“Simply enabling employees to apply for internal roles won’t work if they lack the motivation, skills or growth opportunities to do those roles effectively,” Von Armansperg said.
Create individualized, strengths-based development plans: These plans cater to an employee’s individuality. In this way, employers encourage and validate an employee’s uniqueness and value as an individual, rather than just a number in their roster. And according to Von Armansperg, it also helps them with their performance in their current roles and prepares them for future opportunities.
Incorporate a learning and development program: “A clear, individualized development plan, paired with a company-wide learning and development (L&D) program,” Von Armansperg stated, “helps guide your people into the right roles for them and your company.”
Individualized plans show employees that employers care about them as people — company-wide development programs show employees how they can combine their strengths and work together to create an optimal and enjoyable workplace environment.
The keys here are intent and flexibility.
A company’s intentions are not lost on its employees — they need to understand that growth looks different for everybody and needs to be addressed as such.
Gialleli supports this.
“To accommodate all employees’ growth and development needs, employers must ask employees directly what kind of training or courses they find valuable,” she said.
What it comes down to is employers and companies meeting people where they are and providing the space for employees to be honest and open. They’ll need to learn how to be flexible and think outside the box, stepping away from more conventional methods and testing out new ways to connect with employees to help them grow.
Gialleli’s idea for implementing a mentor/mentee program is a good and creative example for one such method.
“The close relationship developed between mentors and mentees can create the conditions in which employees can share their thoughts and give and receive regular feedback.”
Implementing new programs, creating development plans, and becoming invested in the interests of their employees are just some of the ways companies can begin working toward retaining their hardworking employees who want to grow and take a chance at something new.
Why professional development is so important
Long term, providing employees with the opportunities for professional development is not only beneficial to employees but to employers as well.
Professional development helps people and companies grow by giving employees new skills and knowledge, ultimately making a positive impact on a company’s productivity.
Employers ignoring development opportunities for employees “can lead to low morale among remaining employees, which can impact their job satisfaction and productivity,” Gialleli said.
Professional development is so important because of the domino effect it creates. Employees who are given the chance to grow, learn and gain new skills choose to stay, and when they choose to stay with these newfound talents, companies and employers can expect to see higher productivity, more job satisfaction and more growth for their brand or cause.
Companies and organizations should also keep in mind the more negative impacts of low retention rates.
“High turnover rates,” Gialleli said, “can negatively impact a company’s reputation among potential candidates, customers and stakeholders.”
When employees feel stunted and trapped in mediocrity, they’ll look elsewhere to find someone who can nurture their passions and goals. The company or organization they work for is what can truly make or break an employee’s loyalty.
The evidence shows that the opportunity to grow is crucial to retaining employees, but what about the other factors? What are some of the other reasons employees might choose to leave?
Work-life balance, salary and benefits are three other major factors that can influence an employee’s desire to stay or leave a company.
According to Von Armansperg, “Three in four employees surveyed by Leapsome’s State of People Enablement Report cited their work-life balance and their compensation and benefits package as primary reasons for planning to change jobs.”
Where salary and benefits have always been a more deciding factor for employees, work-life balance has been a hot topic of discussion lately, as people seek to have lives outside of their careers and not be tied down by work responsibilities.
Gialleli backs this by stating, “Since the pandemic, mental health and work-life balance has also become an area of focus because burnout drives employees away.”
Employees are tired of feeling drained by the burdens their employers put on their shoulders. People don’t want to live to work or work to live, they want to work and then come home at the end of the day and enjoy their life, their hobbies and their time with friends and family.
Von Armansperg and Gialleli both provide sound advice to employers about how to address these other factors.
If handing out raises isn’t currently in the cards, then, “HR and business leaders unable to offer salary raises should consider what other benefits could improve employee work-life balance,” Von Armansperg said.
And to prevent burnout, “it’s important for managers and HR to check in with their employees, understand the root cause of work exhaustion and demonstrate empathy,” Gialleli said. “Offering remote/hybrid work options or flexible working hours will ensure a better work-life balance for employees.”
Companies must be willing and open to trying new things because sticking to old ways and traditional workplace tactics isn’t working anymore, and people are leaving because of it.
Top 10 companies for career growth
According to recent research done by LinkedIn, these are the top 10 (out of 50) companies from their 2023 LinkedIn Top Companies list that promote training, professional development, and long-lasting career growth.
- Wells Fargo
- JP Morgan Chase & Co.
- Bank of America
- UnitedHealth Group
- Kaiser Permanente
Jessica Stillman, Inc.com columnist and contributor, said it best: “Employees who can’t grow, leave.” At the root of it, people want to be challenged and be rewarded for their efforts. They want to be in a workplace environment that motivates them and lets them work on their passions and achieve their goals. An employee can only be as good as an employer allows them to be.