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What The Media Is Getting Wrong About The Great Resignation

Is it the Great Resignation, the Great Reimagination, or even the Great Reformation? You tell me. 

Are you tired of hearing and reading about the Great Resignation everywhere you turn? I actually wonder if people are quitting based on the media influence and the hype. Being in HR for 20 years, there has always been turnover. It’s part of companies, for better or for worse. What is key is understanding what’s behind the turnover, and what needs to be done within the company to fix the culture, sense of belonging, ongoing learning investment, and more that are leading people to quit.

At the end of the day, people will leave. It’s how and why you improve. It’s a company’s identity and what you’re continuing to build as you evolve. I remember all the reasons I left companies over the past 20 years, which I listed below. Can you relate? 

  • Company 1: job growth
  • Company 2: job growth
  • Company 3: job growth 
  • Company 4: sexual harassment and discrimination 
  • Company 5: toxic culture (WeWork had nothing on this place – men constantly sang “Macho Man” when they closed sales with women, they chugged bottles of wine, danced around, and eventually did other terrible things – I was fired for trying to stop it)


These are all data points that leaders and HR need to understand to define their “why” and their culture. They must also grasp what reasons for turnover can be prevented just by changing, as well as what can’t be prevented because they refuse to change. Decisions define companies, and people will remember that. Often, these people are also your consumers, so the question becomes, “Who do you want to be?”

Candidly speaking, the only thing that has changed in 20 years is how abusive workplaces can be. Can we not make another Netflix or Hulu series about psycho a-holes, like “The Dropout” or the one about WeWork? How about a company that gets it right and why businesses should be a beacon?

If you can relate to my experiences above, this article is about how you can fix it. Here’s a great quote: “Let’s address this pesky claim that the Great Resignation, or ‘quitagion,’ or whatever, is a reflection of job hatred and burnout. The Great Resignation isn’t a dramatic shift in worker sentiment. It’s a dramatic shift in worker opportunity.”  

The article cites a recent survey co-sponsored by the polling company Angus Reid Global. The survey revealed the number of people saying they were thinking about quitting reached an all-time high in 2021. That number rose much more than worker satisfaction levels. Here’s another excerpt from the article: “‘A greater share of people say they are contemplating quitting than express dissatisfaction with their current job,’ wrote Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto who helped run the survey. Put simply, resignations are rising because people are seeing more job listings, not because they’re feeling more Marxist.”

Want to read about a company that’s getting it right? Check out Moderna. Not only did they give the world life-saving shots in record time, they also scaled to over 1,000 employees. This company and its CHRO rock! 

A final thought I’d like to share with you this week: this Forbes article by Nancy Duarte outlines what organizations can do right now when evaluating the question, “Are we actually diverse according to our own employees”? I found the below passage particularly insightful for those in search of the start line.

“As much as our employees aspired to eradicate racism throughout the world, we needed to first fix situations where we had 100% control. Without a model or plan to ground us, we had no idea where to focus our attention or how to hold ourselves accountable to effect lasting change.”

Getting a house in order requires you to begin by inspecting the foundation. Only then can you create accountability. Otherwise, we’ll all be, what’s the word I’m looking for, resigned, to let history repeat itself.