Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

I up and quit one day. I gathered my juice, my animal crackers, and set up camp in the closet. Being a child, I figured that my parents would be so sorry that I was gone that they wouldn’t make me do my “job” anymore.  But they didn’t notice I was missing. I consumed my snacks, then grew bored and weary of the dark. I tried to quietly, and with some sense of dignity, slip out of the closet to return to the family and act like nothing happened.  Turns out they knew I was gone, but wanted me to reflect on my situation, to recognize where I found myself, and to reckon with it.  It worked.

I’ve been pondering this memory as we all collectively take stock of where we are now, where we want to be, and what we need to do moving forward. We’ve begun a new year, but many have spent much of the past year in reflection.  Some are recognizing new truths and are reckoning with how that will impact their lives moving forward. Others have resigned, or will resign from their positions, with an eye toward changing where they are compared to where they aspire to be.  This has been coined by many as the Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation is an economic trend in which employees have begun to voluntarily resign from their jobs, even switching careers and geographic locales in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fear of not having sufficient worker protections, changing family priorities, wage stagnation, inflation and the desire to simply do something different.

For marketers and professional communicators, fresh perspectives are in order moving forward. Although employee retention and attraction have always benefitted from solid communication efforts, many businesses and organizations do not spend as much time in these areas as they could.

Understanding the choices taking place, and how to respond most effectively, will lead to more meaningful engagement with current employees and more impactful efforts to attract new talent.

However, there is more to it than that.

Workplace flexibility is the new money in today’s post vaccine economy. While some businesses have more flexibility than others, recognizing this fact is important when communicating with employees, and potential team members.  Flexibility means different things to different people. So, the better you truly understand what is important to others in the workplace, the more successful and productive your efforts will be.

The Great Resignation was fueled in part by the “Great Reflection”. Great reflection leads to great recognition.  Recognition leads to the reckoning.  Thus, a shift is taking place that is shaking the foundation of countless traditional ways of doing business. Communication efforts included.

According to Microsoft‘s 2021 Work Trend Index, more than 40% of the global workforce considered quitting their jobs in 2021. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey conducted in early August 2021, 65% of employees said they are looking for a new job and 88% of executives said their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal.

Begin 2022 with a plan to market your business to those who already work with you, or may wish to work with you.  Just as when communicating with current and potential customers or clients, taking time to break out specific target audiences will ensure that messaging and feedback mechanisms are appropriate for each type of exchange. Involve your entire team if possible. Learn what is important, and what isn’t. Check in frequently. Encourage feedback. Explore ways to problem-solve together where possible.

Lastly, don’t forget the juice and animal crackers.  They help when thinking through tough issues.

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