CEO Insider

6 Ways to Avoid Joining the Great Resignation

The conversation around the Great Resignation is not letting up and for good reason. The severity of the news varies by industry and role (mid-career technology and healthcare workers are reported to be leaving most). But however your organization is classified, maintaining a roster of excellent team members is important to its health and resiliency.  

After the tenuous stretch of months when Covid stretched out timelines and tightened purse strings, the industry seems to be getting back on track. The flywheels have begun to spin stronger and faster, which means the need for smart, engaged team members is rising fast. But it can’t happen without the right people (in the right seats) on the bus, and those people need to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. 

Inspiring Happiness Matters More Than Ever

In the midst of a global pandemic and mental health crisis, keeping people healthy is an enormous priority that has a huge price tag and layers of complexity that company executives are working to address but are generally poorly equipped to solve. (Take the recent finding that only one in 10 employees are taking advantage of mental health offerings in the workplace.) 

Fulfillment is especially tough because where one person may base it on compensation and bonuses, others may be seeking career development (and so on). Leaders have to know each team member and understand their needs and drivers, and then have the resources to meet those requirements. We all know that isn’t always possible. My organization has been successful through a simple weekly sentiment check-in. It keeps our leadership team aware of and prepared to respond to the needs of the agency as a whole and to the needs of individual team members as they arise. 

Perhaps it’s why we haven’t had any of our team quit during this Great Resignation. But we did have one who stepped out for a bit.


Why I took a pause to pivot

As vice president,I lead a strong team of specialists, and have responsibility for managing our brand presence and supporting growth. And I work directly on some of our most strategic client accounts. 

After more than 20 years working with agencies, including one that I built and sold, I realized that my mental engine was full of crud and my passion had dimmed dangerously. 

So I did the most courageous thing I’ve done in my career and took a sabbatical. It wasn’t for an extended vacation. It was to reset my path with a career I love in an agency I love. Rather than resigning, I paused. Instead of stopping, I slowed down. (Full transparency, I’m a type-A full-FOMO workaholic. The decision was not comfortable.) 

Throughout this month away from the day-to-day trenches, I have spent time with family and friends, honed my leadership skills, done deep thinking, written tens of thousands of words, volunteered, traveled, run a marathon, and dedicated time to refinding the human I want to be. I’ve done it out of a belief that I can be better for my family, friends, team, and our agency. 

Every one of the millions of people who have thrown in the towel as part of the Great Resignation has her or his own reason for stepping out. In many cases, it’s to pursue a better job because there are so many openings. But at the heart of it, people are driven by needs that have gone unsatisfied. 

If you’re a leader who is languishing or burnt out, or you’re trying to help members of your team who are, here are a few considerations, tips, and resources that might help. 

Six ways to improve work fulfillment and balance

  1. Make a list of what would need to be covered if you left or took an extended leave. It takes courage to see where you are replaceable but freeing to remember you’re part of a team.
  2. Separate your ‘should’ from your ‘could.’ Just because you have the ability to do something at work, it might not be where you contribute the most value to your organization or yourself. It takes humility to dig into your strengths and weaknesses but it’ll help you find your ‘should.’
  3. Prioritize based on what is most important to you personally and to the needs of the organization. It takes discipline to identify the difference between what is actually urgent and what just tends to feel that way, and to block your day to eat the frog.
  4. Don’t mistake overwork for over-delivery. Just because you’re working more hours doesn’t mean you’re more productive. It takes self-restraint to forego the satisfaction of checking things off the to-do list but it’ll give you more time to do important work.
  5. Look around at who you admire and how they work, and emulate them. Then look around at who might be watching and emulating you. It takes real self-awareness to make sure you’re modeling behaviors you hope to see in your teammates.
  6. Spot your lead domino and get rid of it. It takes tenacity to rebuild and hold new boundaries, but it’s better to make a single habit change that offers positive ripple effects.

If you’re languishing or burnt out, or you’re frustrated and overwhelmed, you’re not alone. And if you’re not alone, it means that at least some of your colleagues are feeling the same way you are. If we’re going to stop the Great Resignation, we’re going to have to do it together. The flywheels are turning again and the fragile economy needs you. Your role matters. Your fulfillment and health absolutely matter. You have a role to play in making sure you’re doing your best work in a way that is good for you. 

Don’t stop. Slow down. You might need to rest a while but if you do the work, you can reset and move forward even better than before.

Written by Rachelle Kuramoto.

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Rachelle Kuramoto
Rachelle Kuramoto, vice president, brand and content for Dragon Army since 2019, has led the effort to expand the company into a fully integrated digital experience agency. She co-leads its Do-Good committee, which nurtures culture through service opportunities. With Jeff Hilimire, Kuramoto co-founded nonprofit Ripples of Hope, which grows organizations that use business as a force for good. She serves on the board of the Grove Park Foundation and is a founding board member of 48in48, which creates nonprofit websites.

Rachelle Kuramoto is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn.