Leading through "The Great Resignation"

A record number of people (in the millions) have been quitting their jobs in recent months, with another 95% considering changing jobs, and 92% willing to switch industries to find a better suited position.

Why is this taking place? According to the Labor Department, “as pandemic life recedes in the U.S., people are leaving their jobs in search of more money, more flexibility, and more happiness. Many are rethinking what work means to them, how they are valued, and how they spend their time?”

The Result = The Great Resignation

Some employers and leaders read this and feel fear, angst, and confusion. I see opportunity, possibility, and purpose.

My optimism is based on positive action and results, as there are many organizations that continue to thrive in our current environment, as they have incorporated their own form of the People360 Blueprint that I will share with you momentarily.

The reality is that we as leaders set the tone for the entire equation. Better said, we influence the health of our organizations – as leaders set the tone for culture, culture sets the tone for people, and people drive the performance of our business. All fuel the health of our organization, and it starts with leadership.

Given the current temperature permeating our workforce, all focus is on how we “retain” our people? My perspective is that this singular focus on retention can be short-sided. Allow me to explain.

Think about the last time you considered—or actually did—leave your job. Odds are it wasn’t an overnight decision. Odds are it had been building up over a series of (in this case negative) experiences, memories, events, or interactions. Perhaps a gauntlet of disheartening conversations with your boss. Perhaps a consistent feeling of not being valued, recognized, or heard. Perhaps a lack of trust in the organization or its lack of commitment to the values that they preach but don’t practice.

You’ve now lost hope in the bigger picture. Burnout, fatigue, and frustration take form—while the work never slows down. Eventually, the bubble bursts. You quit. Sometimes with your next opportunity lined up.  Other times you’re willing to roll the dice and play the open market because the risk outweighs the pain of staying where you are.

If this is the voice of our current team, how do we as leaders combat these ill effects of “The Great Resignation?”

For starters, realize that quitting happens before people actually quit. They mentally quit before they physically quit. Look around and ask yourself if some people look uninspired, disengaged, and don’t go above and beyond the call of duty—doing just enough to collect a check. The unfortunate truth is, this describes 70% of the U.S. workforce, as Gallup research reports 7 out of 10 people are disengaged in their jobs—and this has been the case for decades, caught in a never-ending rat race of prioritizing paycheck over purpose.

The Opportunity

Thankfully, the pandemic gave many of us a pause from this race. A “time out” if you will. Time to reflect on what matters to us. Time to think about what brings us joy, happiness, and fulfillment. Time to think about why we do what we do. In other words, it gave us time to think about purpose.

· Do we feel a part of something bigger than ourselves?

· Do we feel our organization allows us to express our strengths, gifts, talents, and passions?

· Do we feel we can contribute each day and make an impact that matters?

These are the questions around purpose that many considered during the pandemic. The result is The Great Resignation because unfortunately most of our workforce cannot answer yes to the above.

So as leaders, we can take one of two actions…

Retreat, let the market dictate the terms, and play defense.


Take the initiative to inspire healthier organizations that are resilient and play offense.

Let the world talk about The Great Resignation—while you lead your team, culture, and organization to be a story of The Great Inspiration. Your people will thank you, and serve with grit and passion for years to come.

The People360 Blueprint

If you are ready to activate a people-centric blueprint where you can not only retain your stars, but you can recruit more of them and engage them each and every day—to ultimately maximize your team’s performance, productivity and profits— then this is the playbook for you.

The entire People360 blueprint is available to download here. You'll gain access to Chapter 9 in The Power of Playing Offense, a Blueprint to Build a People-First Organization + 15 exercises which will help you install the playbook on Monday morning.

The end game: you will create a thriving organization by holistically putting people first, because it’s what great leaders do.

I look forward to meeting you at the 50, and supporting along your journey.


To learn more about The Power of Playing Offense, visit powerofplayingoffense.com. To learn how former NFL and NBA business executive Paul Epstein can support your team or organization, email paul@paulepsteinspeaks.com