The Great Resignation is here. It is impacting many employers who are scrambling to retain their employees. Several factors are driving this challenge across the economy.

Three Reasons Why The Great Resignation Is Hitting Employers

After a year of elevated stress thanks to the Great Resignation, many professionals are leaving their positions. Several pandemic-related factors drive the exodus.

A Once In A Generation Opportunity For Career Reflection

The pandemic has given many professionals time and space to reflect on their career goals and may have decided to change direction. For some people, the pandemic has prompted them to change careers entirely, while others are looking for a different manager.

Consequences of Burnout and Poor Management During The Pandemic

Some employers have drained their employees through excessive workloads and inadequate support for remote work. This challenge is especially significant for working parents who have had children at home for long periods during the pandemic. NPR reported that four million people quit their jobs in April 2021.

In many sectors of the economy, the job market now favors employees. This change is leading some employers to adopt unconventional tactics. The food industry is particularly aggressive: A McDonald’s in Florida is paying applicants $50 to show up for job interviews.

Professional employers are also adopting new ways to appeal to employees. For example, San Francisco advertising agency Traction has closed its office and switched to a fully remote model. Other companies are experimenting with the hybrid model like Microsoft, which has proposed a combination of remote and in-office work.

Improve Retention By Diagnosing Retention Situation 

Macroeconomic factors will only tell you so much. It is vital to diagnose your marketing department’s retention situation and the factors driving it.

Step 1: Understand Your Talent Situation

In light of the Great Resignation, it is time to strengthen retention and make your marketing department more attractive to current employees and new hires. These questions are vitally important even if your company won recognition on lists such as Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work.

  • Employee Turnover Statistics. Track how your department’s turnover rate has trended since 2018. An increase in turnover can signal discontent.
  • Evidence of Career Progression. Ask yourself how many people in your department have been promoted over the last 18 months. A lack of promotion opportunities will discourage the most ambitious professionals.
  • Level of Marketing Creativity. The ability to generate new ideas is central to marketing success. For example, some companies pivoted to running virtual conferences during the pandemic. Ask yourself about the quantity and quality of new ideas your employees are bringing to the table. A significant fall in creativity may tell you that employees are under excessive stress. If the marketing professionals that work for you continue to lack creative opportunities, you are more likely to lose them.
  • Flexibility. Expecting all employees to work in the office building 9-5 Monday to Friday no longer makes sense. According to a FlexJobs survey, 96% of workers desire some remote work (either full time remote or a hybrid arrangement).
  • Engagement With Managers. If you have department-level employee survey data, look for signs of heightened employee discontent. In particular, look for signs that employees are discontent with their direct manager because Gallup data suggests that a person’s manager drives 75% of voluntary turnover.

By using these steps, you can diagnose the specific issues causing talent problems for your department. Generally speaking, many retention problems can be improved by reducing pain points and adding incentives.

Step 2: Improve Retention By Removing Pain Points

Based on what you learn from the previous step, there are a few different ways to boost retention by reducing problems.

  • Improve Technology. Did your employees complain about manual processes or repetitive tasks? For example, your employees might struggle with video calls. Equipping staff with lights and better headsets might be the best solution.
  • Improve Access To Management. Waiting to hear back from managers is frustrating for employees. Encourage your managers to experiment with scheduling regular “office hours” where staff can drop in to get answers to their questions.

Step 3: Improve Retention With Recognition And Listening

There are two kinds of incentives that CMOs should consider: financial and non-financial incentives. Sometimes you may have limited ability to boost pay and benefits. In that case, use non-financial incentives to boost retention.

  • Offer Project Opportunities. Look for ways to give your employees more growth opportunities by participating in cross-company projects.
  • Encourage Networking. As the CMO, you probably have an extensive network of connections in the company. You know leaders in sales, customer service, and other areas. You can reward top-performing professionals by opening your network to them.

Step 4: Assess Your Compensation Package

The compensation package you offer is the final element to consider to boost retention.

  • Take Inflation Seriously. For example, some economists have pointed out evidence of increased inflation in 2021. Increased inflation translates into a pay cut for employees as their dollars can no longer buy as much food, transportation, and other goods.  Reuters reported that US consumer prices had posted their most significant gain in more than a decade in June 2021. Cost of living salary increases in 2021 may need to be higher to retain staff.
  • Benchmark Your Salaries. Check your salary levels and see if they remain competitive with the rest of your industry. You can check industry sources like the American Marketing Association or ask a recruiting expert like Peak Sales Recruiting for advice. If your salaries are below the median for the industry, retention, and recruitment will be more difficult.

Augment Your Recruiting Strategy

Aiming for 100% talent retention is not a realistic goal. Assuming your turnover rate is reasonably close to industry averages, you can turn your attention to improving retention.

Working with an experienced recruiting firm like Peak Sales Recruiting is essential. Rather than hoping your job posting happens to gain attention online, we can help you gain access to more high-quality candidates, including those not actively looking for a new position.

Is your company missing an exceptional Marketing Executive? APEX CMO SEARCH are Marketing Executive Search specialists focused on delivering exceptional executives for Clients seeking growth & transformation. CONTACT US TO HIRE OR GET HIRED!


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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