The Great Resignation

Workers are choosing to leave their jobs in record numbers. Why is this happening? And what can you do about it? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • This past April, the number of U.S. workers leaving their jobs hit record-setting heights. That record was broken a few months later in July. And then again in August.
  • The story is similar in the UK.
  • Our industry is not immune. In fact, when the Times first covered this back in June they opened the story by profiling a marketing director who had just given his notice.
  • So what’s up? Clearly the pandemic is a major factor. Particularly the jarring effect of returning to the office after so long away.
  • Some believe we’re in the midst of a second-wave of COVID-driven burnout—more steady and continuous than early in the pandemic. But just as difficult.
  • This rings true for us when we consider our friends, colleagues and clients. And seems like a likely contributor to the wave of resignations.
  • According to Psychology Today, the Big Quit isn’t really about quitting. It’s about a reprioritization of values related to work.
  • This also rings true. Burnout is part of the equation here. But so is a desire to rethink and improve things.
  • The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson puts it this way: “This level of quitting is really an expression of optimism that says ‘we can do better’.”
  • So what’s a marketing leader to do? What does “doing better” actually look like?
  • One study suggests that marketers leaving their jobs are primarily looking for more flexibility.
  • This kind of flexibility has multiple dimensions. It includes “place, time, job description, and career paths”.
  • Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar’s mantra in fending off the Big Quit is “retrain to retain“—providing ongoing learning opportunities rather than a measly annual training allowance.
  • Liza Haffenberg suggests it’s time to put more oomph into what she calls “internal marketing“—a mixture of better employee engagement and more inspiring internal comms.
  • Our take: If we’re going to approach this challenge like marketers, why not start with a little insight gathering? Rather than guessing what will keep your team around, why not just ask them?
Issue #131
Nov 21, 2021

Further Reading