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Opinion: Tsunami turnover represents silent epidemic

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The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 2.9% of the population – or 4.3 million people – voluntarily quit their jobs in August 2021.

Voluntary turnover will continue to be the highest cost and challenge employers face with projected expenses in the billions of dollars. 

According to Workhuman, employers should expect 20% of their employees to leave in 2022. The expected costs could go as high as 200% for a rehire, while currently, 2 out of every 5 employees have one foot out the door, lowering engagement and company performance.

Why are statistics continuing to worsen? 

The No. 1 issue? Employees don’t feel valued for their ideas and opinions, and they need more recognition for their work. Here’s the bottom line: The old, antiquated rules for management will create a mass exodus. CEO and managers must think differently to lead differently, or the employees will leave you.

You see, employees want to feel they can trust their employer, and they’re looking for alignment between actions and words. Employees are searching for company leaders that won’t micromanage but inspire them for the needed change. 

In other words, company culture is driving the “Great Resignation.” The real epidemic is silence. Employees don’t feel heard, valued or acknowledged for what they need, and they fear speaking up. Employees don’t want to be judged, blamed or fixed; they want a place they find opportunity, recognition and development opportunities. The numbers tell us they may not feel safe sharing their workplace needs, but they will share their resignations.

As business leaders, we must address this silent epidemic. Here are five key strategies:

  1. Commit to becoming an intentional listener. As a leader, let them know that you are human, struggling behind the scenes, and acknowledge that they may be, too. Building trust is your first step. Many employees will not see your challenges; they are not in your seat. You also may have forgotten what it’s like to be in their seat.
  2. Be present. Hold a positive intent for the greatest possible outcome. You are aiming to create conversations about their needs. Thank them for offering direct feedback on your leadership. Just listen. Don’t offer why you feel the way you do, or you will shut them down. Restate what you heard, and ask them, “Did I get it right?” If you don’t handle conversations this way, you may find yourself listening for what you want to hear, not what they say. 
  3. Do “stay” interviews quarterly. Ask staff members questions about their vision of a great work environment. Try to be Socratic in your approach and find out what matters to them and what would make them look for something else. Think about the questions you’d ask yourself if you were looking to leave a company. They are asking themselves the same questions in silence. 
  4. Public recognition is key. There are many ways to recognize employees. Ensure that you understand what they need to feel like they are valued and that they remain a contributor to the company’s vision. 
  5. Offer development opportunities. Offering all employees development is a critical offering and investment in their willingness to stay. This specific need, many times, is overlooked and only provided to those at the top.

It’s time to address the silence. Leaders who fearlessly begin asking the tough questions will find opportunities for investing in their talent. Employees who feel safe for sharing ideas and recognized for the value they bring to the company will have more reason to stay.

Dina Readinger is CEO of Diagnostic Thinking and creator of a leadership system to develop executives, particularly in employee retention and diversity, equity and inclusion. She can be reached at


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