CWG 26 Sept

Get a grip on resignations

“It’s always tough when people leave, but as leaders we must manage the practical and emotional cost.”

Businesses everywhere are facing what is being called the “Great Resignation” – the global phenomenon whereby staff are resigning in alarmingly high numbers. 

In the past, HR teams had a target to keep annual resignations below 10% but post Covid this has shot up to more than 20% with large numbers of people across the world reflecting on what they want in life and making changes accordingly. 

This is also the case in South Africa where this year thousands of employees have chosen to move. 
As a leader it’s always tough when people leave – the saying “People leave managers, not companies” can really sting! So, unless we are careful every resignation can be a blow to our confidence and we must manage both the practical and the emotional cost. 
After many years of personal experience and reflecting on the global conversations, I share the following six thoughts: 
  1. People will always leave. Whilst it may feel tough at the time, a level of turnover of talent is good and healthy both for a business and for the economy as a whole. 
  2. Young people need diversity to grow and they leave to build their skills and broaden their experience. Accept that sometimes your best young people will do this when the time is right for them. 
  3. Try to look at each resignation as a chance to re-assess. Take the time to consider opportunities for internal promotion and adjustments to your wider staffing strategy. 
  4. It’s important to remember, too, that some people will leave because they are simply not your people – in which case their resignation might even be a blessing! But if you are seeing a quick turnaround of staff this may be an indication of a deeper recruitment problem that needs fixing. 
  5. Make time to hold a relaxed and open exit interview to understand why the person resigned. Be open to this feedback as a learning and growing tool even when it’s hard to hear what they say. 
  6. Lastly, stop being surprised when people resign. Prepare for it and build it into your model. Create robust systems, centralised information and standard procedures so people can come and go without too much disruption to the business. 
And finally, even though it may feel crushing at the time, put on your happy face and be graceful at their exit. Ideally, people should leave your company feeling good about themselves and the time spent working with you. The best people may even return to your company at a later date wiser and more appreciative of what you offer. 

Have a fabulous week!