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The Great Attrition or the Great Reset?

The other day a friend of mine told me about a fast-food sign he saw. The sign read, “Start today. Get paid tomorrow.” We both had a good laugh at what appeared to be a desperate attempt to get warm bodies. Sadly, every client we work with is struggling to hire and retain good people.

If you haven’t heard about The Great Attrition, or at least experienced the pain associated with it, you’ve likely been under a rock for the last few years. U.S. workers are resigning in record numbers. Many are leaving their jobs without having anything else lined up. What’s more, few industries have escaped the pain, and those who remain feel overwhelmed with the burden to maintain the same results with fewer people. When you add on top of that never ending supply chain disruptions, inflation, and unstable market conditions, it can be tempting to feel like there’s no end in sight.

However, we have faced difficult circumstances before, and we will face them again after this crisis passes. This is where 100% Responsibility comes in. Whether we successfully navigate these harsh conditions will not depend on the circumstances we face, but rather on how we choose to respond.

Back to the fast-food sign. Many of us can relate to the desperation, and at some level I admire the initiative to just try something. However, it dawned on me that whatever you attract people with is what you must keep them with.

We’ve long understood this with our customers. Businesses that attract new customers with deep discounts, fire sales and a constant barrage of coupons must continue to offer discounts to retain those same customers. What’s more, the type of customer they attract will have little loyalty to the brand and feel entitled to berate employees when they don’t get the deal they want. This is a business that will struggle to maintain healthy margins and will ultimately struggle to survive.

In the same way, companies that attract employees with signing bonuses, instant pay, and other financial rewards will ultimately struggle to survive the current crisis. New hires who are driven by these incentives will lack loyalty and will struggle to stay engaged after the money is spent. They’ll be looking for the next “deal” and will be quick to leave to collect another signing bonus at a competing company. I am not saying financial incentives do not matter, nor am I suggesting that signing bonuses should never be used. However, a company that makes that the main attraction will struggle to be great. Over time the culture will erode, and engagement will fall.

It is time to reframe the problem. The main challenge is not maintaining the right headcount. The challenge is attracting and retaining the right people . That requires a different message. Compare the Burger King pitch to the messaging below:

  • Not everyone is up for the challenge of working at our company.

  • It’s hard work, but you’ll end each day feeling like you’ve accomplished something and be confident your contribution matters.

  • We’ll challenge you to give your best, and we’ll encourage and coach you to learn and grow to reach your potential.

  • What’s more, you’ll be part of a high performing team where team members care about each other. We have each other’s backs, and we expect every team member to put the mission and team first.

  • And by the way, if you do make the cut, you’ll flourish professionally and financially.

You see the difference? Whether or not The Great Attrition is a threat or opportunity is a choice. We can choose to turn it into The Great Reset, using it as an opportunity to build a culture of actively engaged people producing extraordinary results.


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Team Trek is a world-class provider of culture transformation solutions, leadership development, and team building.

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