Four Tips For Navigating The Resignation Storm

A recent study of employee experiences during change concluded that employee burnout was at a record high. More than half of those surveyed cited burnout experiences. With millennials logging high burnout rates pre-pandemic, they remain the most impacted population experiencing burnout today (59%). The up-and-coming working generation, Gen Z, bears no exception. Almost mirroring the millennial experience, Gen Z follows at 58%. The pandemic’s toll hasn’t overlooked the older generations either, with baby boomers showing a 7% increase in burnout as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

While the pandemic is to blame for the spike in exit numbers, in large part, burnout remains the fuel behind it. A high dose of workplace change, coupled with life stressors and the perceived deluge of never-ending urgent priorities, has been a magnet for a quick exit strategy.

Navigating employee burnout has become critical and mitigation essential. Addressing it in the now has never been so important. The cost of doing nothing, or rushing to hire, may be taxing on your team and organization. When uncertainty and instability seep into the culture during crisis and change, employees operate in survival mode — a state of rushed confusion and vulnerability to workplace stress.

In times of workplace change, especially complex and sporadic such as the times we live in, the burden of engaging stressed employees, and the shaky culture that follows, falls on front-line managers to deal with.

The challenge then becomes twofold, stretching their competence as it relates to self-awareness and self-development. For the former, you must question whether your manager has the emotional intelligence to handle an employee who is exhibiting signs of burnout. For the latter, you must question your culpability when it comes to providing adequate opportunity for your managers to develop emotional resilience that will enable them to mitigate the downward spiral of the burnout storm.

Most would agree that workplace burnout can have emotional, physical and mental ramifications. While the signs can be subtle, you can mitigate the turnover storm by preparing yourself and your managers with these four steps:

1. Screen for symptoms. While the cues can be subtle and difficult to spot, they’re not completely elusive. Look for signs of despondency, distress, lack of motivation, interest or engagement. Other, more overt cues include missing deadlines, coming late to work, avoiding others, excessive sarcasm (uncharacteristic) and/or harsh outbursts.

2. Strengthen selfawareness. Take a long hard look in the mirror. If you are overwhelmed, it can trickle down. It can manifest in miscommunication and conflicting priorities. Examine your own stressors, understand how they may be playing a role in your work environment and get a hold of how they could contribute to burnout in your team.

3. Realign your priorities. Look at what might be creating additional stress for your team. Focusing on multiple deadlines when resources are limited can create an environment prone to errors. It can also promote competition and diminish collaboration. Step back, invite dialogue from the team and approach priorities with a fresh set of lenses. Distinguish what is actually important to accomplish now, from what only seems important. Decide with your team on the resources needed to accomplish critical milestones and time-sensitive tasks.

4. Be transparent. It is important to ask for help in finding a solution to expressed stressors. Demonstrating your vulnerability to your team fosters trust and shows your willingness to address difficult issues. Be sure to offer emotional support and empathy. Check your radar for any blind spots before trying to “fix” the situation with an employee who is on the cusp of burnout.

The term we often hear today is the “Great Resignation.” Millennials and Gen Z do not have different needs. They want to reconnect to meaningful work and they have the competitive advantage to choose the company that meets their needs. Leaders must connect the dots and read between the lines. There is no better time to pause and choose to listen instead of making assumptions or judgments.

I recently facilitated a meeting with a startup that has grown by 28% in the last two years. Burnout was evident and the owner was unable to pause to reflect on the impact of change on the team. A two-day event of honest dialogue elevated the team’s experience from survival to empowerment. The leader’s commitment to listening propelled these difficult conversations to inspire a renewed commitment to action. The team was able to engage, re-align and co-design a road map for success. At times, it is best to slow down in order to leap further.

A multiyear research study into corporate culture using 1.4 million data points from Glassdoor reveals that feeling respected is not only the most important factor, it stands out in comparison with all other cultural elements. The three subsequent cultural elements are directly related to leadership behaviors in the workplace.

There is no better time for you to be more intentional about your culture than during this change. There is no one rule that fits all. Elevate your leadership capability to manage during change, listen to the voice of your employees, understand their unique challenges and design moments of honest dialogue that further workplace dignity.

Published by Mind Market Co-Founder & CEO

Loubna’s expertise as an executive coach and organizational development leader has positioned her as a value-added resource for leaders in today’s unpredictable business environment. Her extensive career of 20+ years in leadership and talent management has been dedicated to posturing leaders and teams for success to create an engaged organizational culture. Loubna holds a doctorate in organizational leadership with an emphasis on change implementation and sustainability. She serves as president of the International Coaching Federation in South Florida. She is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and a certified Master Practitioner in Neuro-linguistic Programming,. She is passionate about coaching high potential leaders and teams through transitions and change.