How to adapt to the “Great Resignation” at your company and retain employees

The “Great Resignation” is taking place across the nation, but what is it and how is it affecting employers’ ability to attract and retain employees? Tim Holt, Senior Human Resources Director at UPMC Insurance Services Division, offers valuable insight into the nature of the “Great Resignation” and provides actionable ways employers can attract and retain employees during this phenomenon.

What is the “Great Resignation”?

The “Great Resignation” is a trend where record numbers of people are voluntarily quitting their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift that transcends industries is leaving employers of all sizes struggling to retain employees.1 According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of April 2021, more than 4 million employees had already quit their jobs. If they haven’t left already, they are planning to make a move.

According to a recent Gallup analysis, 48 percent of America's working population is actively job-searching or watching for opportunities.2 As the trend continues, many employers are trying to figure out how to curb quitting and retain employees.

Why employees are quitting

Employees are leaving their jobs for a wide range of reasons. Catalysts include everything from burnout and poor work-life balance, to an unsupportive company culture that lacks diversity and inclusion. Women, in particular, are especially feeling the repercussions of the pandemic. Many women made a difficult decision to drop out of the workforce and stay home to support the new realities of family life.

There is another factor crossing over from people’s personal to professional lives—a sense of purpose. Many people want more from their job. More doesn’t always mean more money. It often means more meaningful work. While that wish might seem like a tall order, there are ways to achieve this in your organization.

How to retain your employees

While fair compensation is a major factor and mainstay motivator that can attract and retain employees, Holt advises companies to think about more than money when evaluating what employees want. There are incentives other than money that help retain employees.

Personalization and purpose

Employees want to know that they, as individuals, are making a difference in their roles. “Now more than ever, employees are looking for a sense of purpose personally and in the workplace. They want to know how the purpose of the company ties into the community. Our leaders at UPMC believe in and back the work that we do in the communities we serve. This is something companies of all sizes can support to help employees understand that all-important purpose they are looking for in their careers,” Holt said.

Culture fit

Holt said company culture can be even more influential than money when it comes to retaining employees: “Culture drives everything, and at the end of the day, when somebody leaves a company, money isn’t necessarily what made them look and leave. Often, company culture drives employees to look, and it’s what they find that ultimately helps them decide to leave.” According to Holt, many employees want flexibility built into company culture, including flexibility in work schedule and in work location.


Make sure your employees know what the company’s mission, vision, and values are, and how they fit it into it. Knowing where they fit and contribute helps them focus more on how what they do daily makes a difference in helping others instead of just hearing how they help the bottom line. Frontline leaders are an excellent conduit for communicating this information, but it’s important for managers and other members of the C-suite to communicate this message to employees at all levels. “When leaders help employees see how important their job is to the overall mission of the company, this can have quite an impact,” Holt said.

Invest in helping your employees during this time (with a robust health care package)

The pandemic caused many people to take a closer look at their health and their health benefits. This is an area where employers can make an impact, both for full- and part-time employees.

“More and more people that are saying, ‘You know what, I want to work part-time, not full-time. Giving both full- and part-time employees a robust medical package and benefit plan is an effective way to retain a growing number of part-time employees,” Holt said.

A robust health care package is more than one that offers access to medical, dental, and vision benefits. Choose an affordable plan that offers employees and their families access to the best doctors and hospitals. As families transition to a new normal, it can be helpful for parents to have a plan that covers dependents and offers access to urgent and emergency care while traveling. Many employees want plans that offer telehealth and digital tools, too.

Holt also stressed the importance of offering an employee assistance program (EAP) as an added value that can strengthen benefits packages. “Offering an EAP shows your employees that you are committed to their overall well-being, including their emotional, physical, and other needs,” said Holt. When workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay in their jobs.

There will be peaks and valleys that employers will need to navigate during the “Great Resignation.” Holt says, “Companies will need to be resilient, and to do that, they must retain employees. Assessing both benefits and culture and making adjustments in these areas is key to retaining employees throughout the ‘Great Resignation’ and beyond.”

Explore UPMC Health Plan coverage for your employees

Our team of experts can help find the best health plan options suited to your business and budget.3 And, your employees can be certain they get access to the care, coverage, and customer service they deserve.

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