As school leaders have experienced, the marketplace for talent has shifted. Today, you need to think of your employees as customers and put thoughtful attention into retaining them, according to Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer for Harvard Business Review.


Here are four steps leaders can take now to better navigate the Great Resignation:


  1. Be aware of your impact.

As leaders, people are watching you all the time, whether you realize it or not. Pause and consider how you are showing up in both your words and your actions.

Let’s say your company is experiencing record year-to-date turnover of 25%, and hiring is falling 60% below target (real scenarios in far too many organizations). Your people are worried and stressed. How do you message the realities of these pain points to your people? Are you aware of how your own concerns and frustrations are experienced by others? Are you unintentionally adding to their fear and uncertainty? When you become aware of your impact, you can control it and steer it in the right direction.


  1. Focus on potential and possibility.  

On the flip side, let’s say your organization has 75% retention and you have attracted and welcomed a large number of new people to the organization. Consider what outcome you want to create out of this uniquely disruptive time. This is a time to be grounded in pragmatism, blended with possibility, gratitude and recognition of what your people, old and new, are going through. Get curious and ask:

  • What do you envision as the best possible outcome for this situation?
  • What excites you about that?
  • What does that give you/the team/the organization?

When you communicate to your people in this way, the impact is one of potential and possibility instead of fear and uncertainty.


  1. Make it okay to leave.

There’s another area where you may be creating an unintended impact – how you and others in the organization treat people when they leave.

In far too many organizations, when an employee gives notice the reaction is akin to an emotional breakup – you’ve been left and you feel rejected. This triggers some not great behavior like a tendency to make the person leaving “wrong” and doubt their trustworthiness or integrity – even though that was not the case before they gave notice.

There’s a penchant to dismiss their presence and devalue their contribution. Think deeply about what this type of behavior signals to the departing employee and remember, those that remain are watching.


  1. Give your employees the respect and attention they deserve.

The marketplace for talent has shifted. You need to think of your employees like customers and put thoughtful attention into retaining them. This is the first step to slow attrition and regain your growth curve.

This doesn’t happen when employees feel ignored in the fever to hire new people or underappreciated for the effort they make to keep business moving forward. You can’t take your people for granted and expect them to stay – healthy relationships just don’t work that way.