From ‘Great’ to ‘Ghoulish’: Surviving as Resignations Get Even Scarier

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.

This might be the scariest Halloween that organizations and leaders have ever faced. Grim year-end forecasts. Ongoing supply chain(saw) massacres plaguing nearly every industry. Offices that look like graveyards. And spookiest of all is the specter of unwanted and uncontrollable turnover.

This season, many leaders are experiencing a lot more tricks than treats. Approximately 65% of employees are looking for a new job right now (according to an August poll of 1,007 full- and part-time U.S. workers conducted by PwC.)

Stories like the one reported earlier this month on CNN highlight a range of motivations driving employees to change. The pandemic has caused many to re-evaluate their lives, shift priorities, and invest more energy in family and friends. Others have become aware of a deep yearning to find greater purpose and meaning in their work. Some crave new challenges, opportunities, and novel ways to use their talents. And many are looking for growth and development.

Here’s the haunting truth: Most leaders have the power to take action that will help stem this tide of resignations. Much of what employees are quitting to find can frequently be found within their current organizations. Leaders who take the time to connect with workers, listen deeply to their wants and needs, understand their shifting priorities, and plan focused action can dramatically reduce their number of dearly departed team members.

Leaders who are surviving the gruesome effects of the great resignation tend to embody three characteristics that create an attractive, attrition-resistant environment: curiosity, care, and a focus on career development.


Curiosity is fuel, propelling conversations, relationships, and trust to new levels. Really understanding how people’s needs and wants are changing demands entering into dialogue without old notions or judgements about who you think they are. It demands becoming aware of biases and assumptions that only serve to obscure clarity. It demands asking thoughtful and respectful questions that create the space for others to reflect and share their thinking to whatever level feels safe. And, most importantly, it demands listening deeply to what’s said and what’s not said to gain a comprehensive understanding of what others need to remain engaged, satisfied, and even thriving in their current role or organization.


While it’s not a word that’s used frequently in business, ‘care’ is undoubtedly a characteristic and set of behaviors that have the power to forge an unbeatable (and un-leavable) culture. Demonstrating benevolent concern for employees inspires a visceral reaction in others. People can feel it when you genuinely understand and prioritize their needs. When you have their backs. When you’re looking out for their best interest (even sometimes at the expense of your own.) They feel cared for when you really see them and their contributions. When you offer meaningful, heartfelt recognition and appreciation as well as specific and helpful feedback. And let’s face it. It would take a pretty extraordinary opportunity for someone to walk away from this kind of caring employee experience.

Career Development

Career development may be one of the most significant tools leaders have to minimize the grim effects of current resignation trends. According to Gallup, 87% of millennials say professional growth and career development are very important. 76% of employees are looking for opportunities to expand their careers. And 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development according to last year’s LinkedIn Learning Report.

While specific positions and promotions may not be available, effective leaders understand that development takes a variety of forms that are meaningful and engaging to others. Check out this short video that outlines eight different ways (that don’t rely on position or moves) to help people grow.

Put these three elements together, and you have countless ways to respond to employees and craft strategies to ensure that you retain top talent. For instance…

The ‘great’ resignation has become quite gruesome for many organizations. And yet, leaders are not powerless when it comes to combatting today’s frightening employment conditions. Demonstrating curiosity, care, and a commitment to career development can turn attrition tricks into retention treats… this Halloween and all year-long.

There’s little doubt that career development has been forever altered by the rapid pace of change in the workplace. Leaders who understand and take advantage of this dynamic will set their employees and themselves up for long-term success.

If you’re ready to help those around you enjoy better, nimbler, and more effective development, download VUCA Career Development for a VUCA World: A Leadership Playbook for Career Development that’s Fast, Frequent and Flexible for an updated framework and 20 questions to drive more dynamic and effective growth.

Browse more articles on leadership and career development at



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Julie Winkle Giulioni

Julie Winkle Giulioni


Julie is a champion for workplace growth and development and works with executives and leaders to optimize the potential within their organizations.