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The ‘Great Resignation’ is Here: Look Out for These Three Talent Retention Myths


Organizations are facing the biggest talent crisis since the 2008 recession. But this time around, things are different. People are no longer competing for jobs; companies are competing for people. In fact, according to a Microsoft survey, 41% of the global workforce are considering resigning from their current roles, and Monster is reporting that 95% of workers are considering a job change.

There are many reasons for this.

Last year, some employees put their job search on pause in favor of job security and are now dusting off their resumes. Others have found new passions and are looking to make a career transition. But many are feeling stalled and simply need a change. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as workers are facing burnout, dips in morale, and feelings of disconnection from their peers, family, and friends.

Whatever the reason, companies are experiencing a turnover tsunami and should brace for a year of continued resignations as employees consider their options.

As a leader, it’s up to you to retain your people. But it’s important to not fall for the usual talent retention myths. Instead, focus your efforts on the things that can make a real difference – like your culture. Here are three talent retention myths to avoid:

Myth # 1: You can retain employees by simply offering more money or a promotion. 

While a promotion or salary increase might keep an employee around for another couple of months, it will not retain them long-term. Often, workers who are considering leaving want more than just money. They might want an opportunity to do something that matters to them. According to HBR, nine of our ten people would rather have a boss who cares about them finding meaning and success at work than receive a 20% pay increase. Or maybe it’s flexibility and balance that they value, and the looming return to the office is pushing them away.

Everyone has unique needs from their employer. Whether through manager conversations, listening sessions, or engagement surveys, have an open and honest dialogue to understand what employees value, what they need to feel engaged at work, what they might be looking for in their next role – and whether you can offer that to them.

Myth # 2: The goal is to retain employees for as long as possible.

It’s no longer the expectation that employees will “grow up” in one company. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states the average job tenure for 55-64-year-olds is 9.9 years, but only 2.8 years for 24-34-year-olds. Workers – especially Millennials and Gen Z – want new growth opportunities but can’t always find them with their current employer. In fact, a recent poll by Monster found that 80% of respondents do not believe their current employer offers growth opportunities.

So, instead of focusing on tenure, foster a culture of growth and development. This may extend someone’s tenure with your organization – and if they do leave, you will still have a talent pool capable of picking up where they left off.

Myth # 3: When employees leave, it is because they are no longer happy.

Yes, some workers will resign because they are disengaged and don’t find joy in their current role or workplace, but that’s not true for everyone. Sometimes there is an opportunity too good to pass up.

Instead of putting up a wall, create a safe environment where you can support those who are taking the next step in their career journey. By wishing them well in their next chapter and by keeping communication open with alums, you retain a brand ambassador – who may return one day with a stronger skill-set than when they left.

Your best retention tool? Your culture.

As we face the ‘Great Resignation,’ your culture can be your best tool for retaining your talent – especially as we face an inevitable change around the way we work. Whether companies are going back to the office full-time, remaining virtual, or some combination of the two, the continuation of change and fatigue employees feel as a result will push employees out.

What will keep them is your culture – who you are as a company and what you can offer them in return.

Want to learn about how you can use your culture to retain top talent? Watch our presentation at The Conference Board’s Employee Engagement and Experience conference here.

Tiana Ritchell is a Principal at Daggerwing Group. Her past experience in Human Resources and Organizational Development gives her unique insight into the human element of strategic communications and change management. She is passionate about helping companies drive cultural transformation in a way that delivers results, while speaking to employees and meeting them where they are. Outside of work, Tiana enjoys cooking for family and friends – especially traditional Italian dishes!
Jordan O'Connor is a Managing Consultant at Daggerwing Group. She has a passion for partnering with clients to successfully navigate change and culture transformation. Jordan has supported clients across a variety of industries in aligning leaders and their key leadership behaviors, bringing company culture to life, and engaging employees in innovative new ways. Jordan is an avid skier and lover of Neapolitan pizza.