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5 Ways to... Navigate the Great Resignation

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

The Great Resignation or The Big Quit is a growing phenomenon which is affecting businesses in USA, Europe and even China. A recent AUT study found that about half as many people are committed to sticking with their job this year compared with 2020 which means that this trend is likely to happen right here in NZ. How can you navigate the great resignation as an employer?

1. Understanding the Cause

To solve a problem, first you need to understand it. According to a Harvard Business study, resignation rates are the highest among so called mid-level employees, typically those aged between 30-45. Previously the most common age group was 20-25 year olds.

The study states three possible reasons:

  1. Mid-career (30-45 year olds) employees are in more demand as companies with remote work policies may not be keen to take on inexperienced new employees without supervision, thus giving them greater leverage in securing new positions

  2. They might have resigned earlier but felt things were too uncertain, so the boost we’ve seen over the last several months could be the result of more than a year’s worth of pent-up resignations

  3. Many of these workers may have simply reached a breaking point after months and months of high workloads, hiring freezes, and other pressures, causing them to rethink their work and life goals

Let's look at some ways to counteract these forces so that you can navigate this complex time...

2. Improve the Remuneration Package

While the amount of pay your employee earns is not always the only factor in whether they will continue working for you, it does play a huge role. For instance, if they are not making ends meet because of rising interest rates, cost of living and general inflation, they may start to look elsewhere. Because of the labour shortage we are experiencing in NZ currently, there may be plenty of roles advertised that offer more pay.

Solution: Aside from the obvious pay rise, there may be other options which can help your employee to feel valued and able to make ends meet. For instance:

  • If they are trying to get into the housing market, you could discuss making higher contributions to their kiwi-saver so that they could afford a deposit sooner.

  • Another idea is reducing their costs of coming to work. Are they able to permanently do their job remotely only requiring them to come into the office when needed? The cost of public transport or parking in cities can be upward of $200 a month - making this adjustment doesn't cost your business a cent and some studies have shown that employees work more efficiently from home.

Top tip: To check if you are competitive with what you are paying your employees - check out or advertised roles on and Trademe.

3. Increase Flexibility

Having flexibility in your work is extremely valuable to employee. So while other advertised jobs may pay more than you do, having the flexibility to pick up kids from school, or work from home from time to time to be there when the kids get sick or to do other things, can be huge incentives to remaining with your business.

Top tip: if your employee has been under a lot of stress, could you as a gesture of good will give them a paid week off? It may sound crazy, but helping to prevent your staff from burning out may be worth far more than a weeks wages in the long run.

4. Improve Your Environment

Obviously if a workplace environment is toxic, an employee will be looking to move on ASAP. They might even take a pay cut to get out of it. Especially if they have been working from, or just staying home over lockdowns, they may notice how much a toxic work environment was impacting them and may want to remove it from their lives.

Solution: It's never too late to start improving your work environment. See this article on how to increase team morale. Reasonable employees will see that you are putting in effort to improve things. Better still, if you enlist their help, they will feel part of something greater than themselves and this sense of purpose may motivate them to stay with the team to gain the satisfaction of seeing the results.

5. Build Relationships

While the employer-employee relationship can seem one-dimensional, getting to know your employees as real people and fostering healthy working relationships can be invaluable in building loyalty and unity - two powerful traits that will help them to feel an attachment to you and your business. Checking in regularly with your employees to see how they are coping with these changing times, keeping the lines of communication open and commending and expressing your appreciation for them will help your employees to feel valued.

In conclusion...

There is no silver bullet when it comes to solving this issue. After trying all of these steps, an employee may have simply decided it is time for a change and may still leave. But creating a positive working environment, building relationships with your staff, creating flexibility and offering competitive remuneration packages will all help to make your business a place where people want to be. And don't forget, if people are looking to change jobs, they may be looking at your business as viable option, so having these things in place will increase your chances of attracting new talented people to your team.

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