Culture & Leadership

Culture Matters: What Great Resignation?

Some 47 million U.S. employees left their jobs in 2021 in a 20-year high for the nation, and Colorado is ranked as the fourth highest state for resignations. To explore this phenomenon and learn what some leading Colorado organizations have done to retain and attract talent, GFM|CenterTable and B:CIVIC recently hosted a panel discussion called, “What Great Resignation?.”  

The panelists shared insights they’ve gleaned and actions they’ve taken based on some top reasons people have left their jobs, which according to the Pew Research Center include low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%), feeling disrespected at work (57%) and lack of flexibility (45%).  

Understanding why employees are leaving is only half the battle. It’s what we do with that information that makes a difference. 

What some Colorado employers are doing to retain and attract talent

Employee turnover contributes to negative morale and employee burnout, and depletes productivity and budgets due to the time, energy and money spent on replacing and training new staff. Combating this trend can have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line and in this market, companies are having to compete more than ever before to offer better pay, benefits and perks to minimize turnover and its related costs. 

Our recent panel discussion featured a group of cutting-edge Colorado leaders who have received accolades such as landing in Outside magazine’s Best 50 Places to Work. The panelists talked about how their companies have managed to bypass the Great Resignation by offering unique benefits and focusing on building an empowering company culture. The panelists included:   

  • Jami Duffy, executive director, Youth on Record 
  • Jim Licko, managing partner and co-founder, GFM|CenterTable – Moderator 
  • Geri Mitchell-Brown, co-owner and senior director of employee experience and social impact, Namasté Solar 
  • Ronda Vitrano, managing director, shareholder, head of people and culture, Crestone Capital 

As panelist Jami Duffy said, “there truly is no one right way to stop the Great Resignation. It is about supporting the people who want to stay and the ones that want to go.” All three of these Colorado organizations have found unique ways to do just that. While each leader takes their own approach to talent retention and building a positive culture, a few common recommendations emerged during the discussion:  

  • Offer enhanced benefits – Whether it’s a 45-day sabbatical (Crestone Capital) or mental health allowance (Youth on Record), think outside the box to provide additional benefits that are meaningful to your employees and add value to their lives. Jami Duffy has learned that while some enhanced benefits like these can set a company apart, so can equitable pay and fairness. 
  • Build culture and connection – Taking time to build a true sense of connection is critical because, as Geri Mitchel-Brown said, “It’s a lot easier to leave the job you’ve been doing at home without the connective tissue of being together in the office.” 
  • Provide ample recognition and constructive feedback – Make sure employees know how their work ties back to the mission and allow employees to boost each other publicly with peer-to-peer praise. Crestone Capital’s Ronda Vitrano has seen firsthand how empowering it is to recognize each other in a public forum. 

Not every company can implement all of these recommendations equally, nor should they. “Each company must do what it can to take care of its employees in a meaningful way while staying true to who they are as a company,” said Jim Licko of GFM|CenterTable. By using this approach, these Colorado companies have been able to continue to thrive during one of the toughest times in recent history.  

Learn the panelists’ detailed recommendations on curbing employee turnover:

Part One: 10 enhanced benefits employers now offer to retain talent

Part Two:  Seven strategies for building community and connection

Part Three: Four ways to encourage recognition and constructive feedback