Retention & Engagement

How CEOs Can Beat The Great Resignation

How CEOs Can Beat the Great Resignation

The labor market is in a frenzy as resignations continue to trend in the business world. And while the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms astronomical quit levels, surveys show that employees aren’t necessarily transferring jobs right away — they’re simply quitting.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation of the big quit is that money isn’t at the center of it. The knee-jerk reaction from employers is to bolster pay when people start quitting. In fact, the Q4 2021 Vistage CEO Confidence Index shows that 78% of CEOs are increasing pay in response to hiring challenges. But a massive analysis of data shows this alone doesn’t work.

Ex-employees who have taken part in “The Great Resignation” cite toxic culture, negative outlook, burnout and poor pandemic response as some of their top reasons for leaving. The current labor dilemma has unveiled long-running leadership and organizational problems within many businesses.

Despite the fierce attrition and hiring setbacks plaguing most industries today, several historically high-performing companies continue to thrive. These organizations have a reputation for not only attracting the best talent but also getting them to stay for the long term. This remains the case today — in the most competitive talent market ever. It begs the question, why are their employees choosing to stay?

The answers can be found in the leadership strategies of the CEOs leading the world’s top 3 companies to work for, as ranked by Fortune.

People-First Decision-Making

In the early days of the pandemic, companies around the world assessed their options. Many of them planned to let their employees go and shut down indefinitely. Cisco Systems, however, not only delayed layoffs they’d already announced but also extended pay and benefits for affected employees — even when they couldn’t report to their offices.

For most leaders, balancing the financial health of their organization and the needs of their people is one of, if not, the most difficult parts of their job. But for CEOs like Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, the focus is on employee well-being. When the core of your decision-making processes involves people, any action you take will be the best one, even during a crisis.

Heart-Based Leadership

Salesforce is indeed a force in the tech industry, and it’s no coincidence that, collectively, its leadership team has a giant heart. They were one of the first to announce that they would permanently allow employees to work remotely if the latter wanted. CEO Marc Benioff says it shouldn’t be a big deal when CEOs have their people’s backs because that’s what CEOs should always do. It should be the standard.

Benioff has achieved a rockstar status alongside the company and its incredible growth because he’s always willing to make business decisions based on employee satisfaction. This kind of leadership creates a healthy work environment where people feel cared for. It promotes a sense of belonging, meaning, and loyalty that can’t easily be broken for a bigger paycheck.

Walk the Talk

A crisis is indeed the true test of leadership, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who knows this better than Christopher Nassetta, CEO of Hilton. From day one of the pandemic, the travel industry was forced into hiatus. There were no good options on the table for Hilton, and Nassetta was left to choose between bad and worse.

Ultimately, Hilton furloughed 45,000 employees and laid off 20% of their corporate staff. Nassetta says that, through their experiences with other crises such as 9/11 and The Great Recession, they have developed a playbook. The number one rule? Protect people first.

At the beginning of the COVID crisis, Hilton was intentional in supporting their people. Providing connections to short-term jobs and extending hotel reward benefits for team members are just two of the ways Nassetta and his team took care of their people. Though he had limited options and the outcome was not ideal, Nassetta took a people-first approach to protect the “dignity and compassion of their people in a time of great hardship.”

At the heart of every business success story is a CEO and leadership team that puts their people first. Good bosses produce the best performing and most beloved companies. This validates what we’ve known all along — people don’t leave companies, they leave leaders. In short, they’re leaving you. Does this mean that you’re a bad leader? Of course not. But it’s often a sign that something your people want is missing, and it’s likely more than just a bigger paycheck.

Let’s not pretend that the CEOs and founders of the world’s best workplaces don’t deal with their fair share of attrition, too. The difference is that it’s always top of mind. The best leaders are always looking ahead, anticipating issues that could negatively impact employee satisfaction, and resolving them before a problem arises. Their talent strategies are fully aligned with their business strategies, which positions them to build the elite organizations they lead today.

Learn How CEOs & Founders Can Attract Better Talent

If you want to learn more about hiring and retaining top talent, we invite you to watch “Why Hiring is Personal for CEOs & Founders,” a 60-minute session with Amy Ancira, Managing Director of HireBetter, now on-demand.

Amy brings her 20+ years of recruiting industry experience to discuss the role of CEOs and founders in talent acquisition, how to become a leader people want to follow, and how to use your mission, purpose and culture as a hiring advantage.

Related Resources

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About the Author: Amy Ancira

Amy Ancira brings more than 20 years of experience to HireBetter as Managing Director, having served in senior leadership roles in executive search, recruitment process outsourcing, organizational consulting, and strategic talent planning…

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