Helping leaders fight the 'great resignation'

'If you're an HR executive, managing up right now is really important, and being close and understanding and having patience'

Helping leaders fight the 'great resignation'

For many businesses today, the biggest challenge is the so-called “great resignation.” And that presents both hurdles and opportunities, according to one expert.

“Everyone’s quitting or has been quitting since April 2021 and that’s not Canada, it’s all across North America. It’s unbelievable, [to see] the numbers,” says Leon Goren, president and CEO at PEO Leadership, a professional training and coaching firm in Toronto.

That's raising fears at the leadership levels, he says.

As a result, one of the most critical tasks for HR might be managing the C-suite.

“The executive and leadership team has experienced more stress than they’ve ever had before,” says Goren.

“From an HR perspective, stay close to the CEO or executive leadership team. If you’re an HR executive, managing up right now is really important… and having patience.”

HR can also act as a “buffer” between executives and employees in helping to manage during times of change.

Leon Goren

“You’re the one caught in between there and [it's about] trying to manage the expectations of that leadership team and the expectations of people and actually keep those people passionate, inspired and engaged during this transition period,” he says.

“Start with the top -- you’ve got to change the mindset of the leaders and let them understand some of the situations around acquiring and retaining talent, and convincing them slowly. If you can do that, it will make your job a lot easier.”

Defining your purpose

To fight that plethora of people leaving and keep current employees in place, it’s important to define the organization’s true reason for its existence, says Goren, which will help them feel engaged and empowered.

“Purpose is not just profitability, as many are talking about these days; there’s got to be a bigger purpose to that organization. It can’t be simply driving profits and record sales on the top line because people are not relating to that anymore.”

Its also important for employees to become aligned with the effort or it will fall flat, he says.

“Those individuals, your employees or your leadership teams, have to have aspirations and a purpose so they can see the purpose of the organization and relate to it, which makes it more enjoyable to get up in the morning, be passionate about what [they] do, understand what [they’re] doing, and how it’s actually feeding into the overall goals and objectives of the organization.”

That means asking key questions, says Goren.

“Is it an inspiring culture? Is it an engaging culture? Is it a collaborative culture? Or is it exactly the opposite? Are your leaders micromanaging? Are they power-hungry? Are they internally competitive versus externally competitive?”

While the great resignation might be real, it doesn’t seem to have affected employers’ faith in the economic prospects in Canada, found one survey as more than 157,000 new jobs were created in September.

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