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Key Reasons Behind the Great Resignation - What Companies Can Do to Combat It

2021 was all about the Great Resignation. Employees were leaving their jobs at unprecedented rates for various reasons. Those from top corporates, IT companies, and smaller firms were quitting across various sectors.

Let’s take a quick look at the key reasons behind the Great Resignation and what companies can do to deal with it. 

Decoding The Great Resignation

Studies indicate that the pandemic is the single biggest factor behind high attrition rates. That’s true in the West and in India. The pandemic’s biggest fallout was the worry over health issues. Now more than ever, people were sensitised to the possibility of illness wreaking havoc. That encouraged most to pursue their dreams or at least insist on working remotely or from home. One MIT Sloan study showed that over 24 million people in the US quit their jobs between April 2021 and September 2021. Many other estimates show that more than 20% of the country’s total workforce seeks better job opportunities that offer better pay, newer challenges, and more flexibility. 

Key Reasons Behind the Great Resignation

While there are several reasons for people leaving their jobs, studies indicate the following to be some of the key ones –


  • Toxic Work Culture:

    A toxic corporate culture is what encourages people to leave their jobs. It’s the main reason for attrition and is 10 times more important than compensation in predicting a company’s turnover. Toxic includes failing to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. It also means workers feeling disrespected and being victims of unethical behaviour.
  • Job insecurity:

    After the mass firings brought about by COVID, an environment of fear and insecurity over people’s jobs set in. Many felt that they could lose their job at any moment and that would drive people to obsess over seeking another job. When an employee has a negative assessment of their company’s outlook, there’s a higher chance of attrition.  
  • Innovation:

    Automation has always been both a boon and a bane to people. While it helps companies minimise costs and find different ways to do things, it also threatens the existence of certain roles or jobs. Due to the looming presence of automation, it’s become more important to be innovative at work. Without that, it can be hard for workers to stand out. But while innovation can be interesting and inspiring, it can also burn people out. 
  • Failure to recognise performance:

    Employees and workers leave companies that fail to distinguish between the high performers and low performers when it comes to rewards and recognition. It’s important for employees to feel seen and valued, especially if they’re putting in an extraordinary amount of work in what they’re doing. 
  • Poor response to COVID-19:

    A major concern because the virus and companies that were slow to come up with solutions or implement the right policies to protect their employees were left behind. It’s important for employees to feel protected and looked after. Otherwise, many would rather stay at home and work just to preserve their health.


Some other factors included a backlog of employees who wanted to resign pre- pandemic but held on for longer, burnout, major shifts in identities during the pandemic, and an aversion to returning to offices after a year or more of working remotely.

How Can Companies Counter This?


  • Be understanding:

    During the pandemic, many people started developing newer priorities such as changing their habits, starting side businesses, taking on large home projects, and developing new daily routines. All these changes have brought about new needs, expectations, and priorities. It’s essential for managers to talk to their current employees and figure out the best way to accommodate them. That demonstrates that your organisation cares about your unique problems and wants to be a part of the solution. 
  • Address burnout:

    One of the worst workplace phenomena is burnout. Now is the time for organisations to create a supportive environment and take a long hard look at their culture. It’s integral that you address fatigue and any other feelings of exhaustion that your employees may be experiencing. Ensure your employees feel comfortable asking for help or showing compassionate behaviour towards each other. Enhance your communication efforts. You can also reward positive behaviour by giving them positive notes of recognition and encouragement. These should be from senior leaders and managers. Also, encourage self-care and offer extra support when needed. 
  • Boost workplace wellbeing:

    Provide opportunities for your employees to become active. Offer virtual or in-person fitness classes and other such things to boost their well-being. There are many wellness initiatives you can undertake to increase your employee’s general wellness. That includes helping them feel healthy, encouraging them to have healthy and supportive relationships at home and in the office, and helping them create a sense of purpose. Try scheduling a virtual or in-person meet-up whenever possible. You should also invest in personal development classes around topics such as financial planning, boundary setting, building resilience, and more.
  • Create a better employee experience:

    Aside from compensation and benefits, a positive employee atmosphere is essential to keeping your employees with you. There are essential elements of the employee experience that include the quality of the employee-supervisor relationship, growth and development opportunities, a sense of purpose in your work, flexible work arrangements, perks, amenities, and more. There are additional pieces of these components such as team building, social opportunities, minimal politics, and more. 
  • Encourage your high-performing employees:

    With employees having left their jobs en masse, it becomes exceedingly important for you to reward your high-performing employees. There are many ways this can be done. Figure out the available resources you have and what can be done with them. This is especially important as many may feel they’re being burdened with extra work to make up for the dip in numbers. You can also have team-building exercises so that your employees can get to know each other better. That could boost morale.
  • Use interim talent:

    If you’ve employed a staffing agency, consider using temporary employees to the fullest. Find out their areas of interest, and what types of tasks they’d be interested in helping you with. Use contract professionals and contract-to-hire solutions to cover up the numbers and provide support to remaining employees to accomplish their tasks. If you learn how to do this well, it can help you with both short-term and long-term projects.


Move Through the Great Resignation

Many people quit during the pandemic, but the situation is far from dismal – it’s just different. There was a steep learning curve for companies but slowly everything is getting back on track. Be as positive as you can to help your employees through these trying times. You’ll be able to accomplish a lot even with these difficult moments keeping you back. Don’t fear anything and implement the above to boost your employees and reward those who didn’t leave.