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How Culture Might Help the Great Resignation

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What You Need to Know

  • In November, 3% of U.S. workers resigned.
  • Members of Generation Z now make up about 24% of the workforce.
  • One way to move forward: Make sure benefits, and HR policies, make sense to Gen Z workers.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor and Statistics figures, 3% of the U.S. workforce resigned in November 2021, with job openings increasing to 10.6 million as of Nov. 30, 2021.

From California to the Carolinas, there are vacancies for nearly every position within every industry. The recent Forbes headline seems to put it perspective: “We’ve become a nation of quitters: 4.4 Million Americans left their jobs in September.”

Why So Many Jobs?

Everyone is looking blame someone or something. The reality is, there are so many factors to blame. Common reasons cited by employers include disruptions from COVID-19, unemployment and stimulus benefits, lack of skilled tradesman, and/or the entitlement expectations of millennials and members of Generation Z.

The hiring signs are visible up and down the street, posted on storefront windows, and in the online classifieds. The glut of both available jobs and available workers shows disconnect, including:

  • Whether to vaccinate or not;
  • Low-wage jobs;
  • Customer service jobs that interact with, at times, an angry public who “attack”;
  • Poor benefits, if any;
  • Lack of positive culture; and
  • Millennials and Gen Z’s prejudged as entitled.

With so many reasons, it is important to remember that in order to move forward industries as a whole need to stay focused on driving solution(s).

The generations are shifting, and as we may remember, each generation rebelled on some level against those who came before. Baby boomers were trendsetters railing against the traditionalist. The same was and is true with the Gen Xers and millennials, and with the newest generation entering the workforce, Gen Z.

But why should advisors care? From the outside, these issues do not appear to be about benefits at all. The reason to care: Health and welfare benefits is a human capital management component and is part of a total rewards system.

For the benefit advisor, using the total rewards concept as a strategic, holistic approach to managing the human capital within an organization is crucial to support the attraction and retention of an employee. This in turn expands the delivery of benefits to more than just traditional health, dental, vision, disability, and life plans. Operating within a total rewards strategic approach guides clients to a vision of holistically managing the workforce, which can lead to the stability and longevity of the organization.

Through Gen Z’s Eyes

In educating the industry to the human capital management concept, Gen Z’s also need to be taken into consideration.

Making up roughly 24% of the workforce in 2020 and being a generation that is larger than the millennials, Gen Z’s are willing to put in the effort at work, yet question inconsistencies in employer messaging.

Why is a company investing in new (fill in blank) but not willing to pay competitively or give out raises?

Why is one person chosen over another to do “easier” or “better” work?

If the answer is not provided or is not a reasonable response, Gen Z’s are leaving for another company with a culture which includes effective communication, and most importantly, inclusiveness.

C-Suite Trust

Having the trust of the C-suite, an advisor is in a position to bring a holistic approach to the table, ensuring the culture of the company supports the well-being of the employee for the long-term benefit of both the employee and the company.

This leaves employers facing the greatest challenges in finding candidates, especially in the hourly work sectors.

Brand, mentorship, doing the right thing, and transparency are all key components of a culture that is drawing Gen Z’s.

Human resources has been sharing this message over the past several years and employers are just now seeing the effects that their lack of attention to developing a culture is producing. Employers who are facing the issue of worker shortages are now open to thinking through changes they might be able to enact on their end to attract, and retain qualified candidates.

So, how does your employer client continue to attract (and retain) talent? The solutions are largely “tried and true” but necessary now more than ever:

  • Ensure company values and mission match the culture.
  • Market the company brand as a “THE Best Place to Work.” (When the competition is no longer just about the next-door company but now across the country, the competition is growing.)
  • Consider increasing salaries if possible — larger companies with budget are offering high wages.(Is your client’s company paying competitively for the work expected?)
  • Relax policies. (For example: Amazon is removing marijuana from its drug testing.)
  • Be creative about work-life balance. COVID-19 taught us we can virtually work from anywhere in the country or world and be just as productive with accommodations, flexibility, and some ingenuity.
  • Expand the range of those who can be in a role, and consider if accommodations can be more readily available to get the job done.
  • Does supply and demand need to be re-balanced in order to meet production?

Where You Fit In

The trusted advisor is in that position to influence the employer and show how the profitability of the employer is impacted by company culture.

Holistically healthy employees lead to fewer health insurance claims, less downtime, absenteeism, and turnover. This fosters a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce. How much more will clients appreciate the relationship and creative solutions that are brought to the table.

And, for the advisor, their holistic solutions will earn the respect of the employer, and lead to long-term relationships.


Bobbi Kloss (Photo: BAN)Bobbi Kloss is the director of human capital management services for the Benefit Advisors Network — a national network of independent employee benefit brokerage and consulting companies.

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(Image: BGStock72/Shutterstock)