HR’s Next Challenge: The Great Resignation

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According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trends Index, up to 40% of employees are considering leaving their jobs this year.¹ What’s the driving force? No surprise, a year and a half of dealing with COVID. Workers are reevaluating their priorities, often towards a new work-life balance, focused on more flexible work. The pandemic, for all its downside, has provided an important reminder that life is fragile, and worth living the way you want.

Even as HR professionals deal with the COVID reality at hand, they face the responsibility for solving the next major business disruption – The Great Resignation. When the pandemic brought the potential to work-from-anywhere to workers everywhere, many saw their careers in a new light. So, as they continue to return to the office, the prospect of a 100% in-person existence isn’t as appealing. At the same time, people are craving more human contact than lockdown allowed.

What’s the solution? Many offices will likely become hybrid, with varying degrees of remote and in-person work. In fact, research on new hybrid offices in China provides valuable insight; the country was ahead of the curve returning to in-person work during COVID. The findings suggest that 73% of people want flexible work options going forward.² That’s not surprising, and we expect that figure to align with workers’ feelings here in the states, too. What may be a little surprising however, is that the study found people prefer hybrid to either fully in-person or fully remote offices. 

The case for hybrid is built on the fact that 67% of employees in the study want more in-person work than they experienced during the lockdown. It follows that 66% of leaders say their company is considering redesigning office space to meet this hybrid-work demand.

What It Means for Employers

Employers face many challenges, including the risk of losing employees and difficulty filling open positions. The flip side of challenge is opportunity. In some cases, this may be a great time to find even better employees, as workers from other companies consider new options. 

What this means is that now is the time to take action. Without preparing for the coming wave of resignations, your business could face a sudden crippling reduction of productivity. By planning ahead, however, you can form a strategy for retaining talent and hiring new employees.

How to Mitigate the Risks

HR administrators can take several steps to mitigate risks. Most importantly, you must communicate with your employees. Take the temperature of your workplace. Learn what your employees want, and what might drive them away. 

If you can find the gap between what your workers want and what you are currently offering, then you can make a winning strategy for retaining them. 

Seize Opportunities

Evaluate your opportunities and risks to prioritize a strategy. For instance, you may find that your high-value employees prefer more remote work, and data from the past year shows that those teams are able to maintain efficiency. Remote work, then, becomes a long-term option. If so, you may also find that you can reduce costs by shifting to smaller office space. The added benefit is that support for remote work might help attract new talent from other companies that are slower to embrace this option.

Providing higher compensation and better benefits, if possible, to your employees may also help. Workers who feel well compensated are less likely to leave. Simple, but true.

Lastly, remember that understanding and kindness go a long way. The past 18 months have taken a toll on mental health, and an awareness may help you hold onto employees. Part of this awareness includes employee recognition and engagement which help maintain productivity. And timely and consistent communication is a must for any workplace. Even if you are not able to change how you operate, transparency helps workers understand that you see the growing trend, have evaluated options, and are doing the best you can in the moment.

How We Help Our Clients

Our human resource consulting practice can help analyze what your employees want and need, identify workable strategies, conduct a policy review, and then administer recommendations. 

Some of our solutions include:

  • Stay interviews
  • On-boarding/training
  • Equity analysis
  • Engagement
  • Compensation & benefits reviews


The shifting employment landscape can be tricky to navigate. That’s where an outside opinion, honed from extensive experience across industries, can ensure that you see real results. Call or email us today for a complimentary human resource consultation, 978-213-8481 or


    1. 1. The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready?, Microsoft, 2021
    2. 2. What We Can Learn from China’s Early Shift to Hybrid Work, Microsoft, 2021
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