The Great Resignation?

Turnover happens.  Deal with it… effectively.

There have been countless articles and blogs citing the concerns about a Great Resignation and HR’s role in addressing the tide of employees walking out the door.  

It’s time to look at it differently.  This is an opportunity for HR to work with business leaders to help them understand their direct impact on hiring, retention and inspiring a culture where people feel valued and appreciated for what they bring.

Instead of being surprised by turnover, we need to accept it as a normal part of business.  While some resignations are not ideal, others may be the right thing for the employee and good for the company.  Where turnover is a problem is when we are not ready for it, and so we react instead of responding.  

Here are 6 ways that the business can be prepared for these eventualities and accept resignations graciously:

  1. Focus on the future: HR and leaders should always be thinking about the ‘right person, right role, right time’. As business needs change, the people that you need may have to change as well. Review the vacancy and take stock of what the requirements look like going forward.
  2. Promote knowledge share:  Alleviate that feeling of panic that occurs when the employee who leaves is the only one with the ‘’key to the safe”.  Continuously ensure cross training, shared access to data and a back-up plan so that you have interim coverage when a departure happens.    
  3. Take the pulse of the organization: To mitigate the risk of some resignations, don’t rely solely on exit interviews.  That’s too late.  Ask your employees regularly what is going well and what isn’t and find ways to act on the feedback. 
  4. Actively recruit, all the time:  Be a brand ambassador, network, be on the look out. This not only applies to HR, but to leadership, and the employees, too. Have a pipeline of candidates ready when roles become vacant.  Where possible, encourage people to apply to your company even if you don’t have openings; get them screened and ready to go when the right role becomes available. 
  5. Acknowledge employees who leave: Thank employees for their contributions during the time they spent with you, be supportive of their choice, wish them well.  How they feel when they leave matters.  Who knows… they may refer a candidate, or they may return someday and your time to productivity will be quicker because they already know the business. 
  6. Don’t take it personally: How often have we heard that employees don’t leave companies, they leave their manager? Is this true? Probably, sometimes; however in most cases, an employee has made the choice to leave for reasons that aren’t about their immediate manager. Dwelling on the reason why they are leaving doesn’t change it. You need to change how you think about it and take a pause to learn from the experience. To quote Shakespeare … Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2 ‘…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’. 


A resignation may sting in the moment, but your business will recover. Pretending it won’t happen and being surprised when it does, only puts a business in reaction mode. HR can help the leadership to be more proactive and accept the realities of turnover.  And don’t forget that HR has access to data and market trends and historical information that can provide insights and may even predict when some of these changes might occur. 

To learn more about how HR can be a support to the business and not an order taker/job filler when turnover happens, sign up for our ElevatingHR Workshop!