Insights From Our Editors

How to Retain Your Team During “The Great Resignation”

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Sept. 22, 2021

Employment opportunities have opened up, making it harder for small businesses like optometry practices to retain staff. Here are actions you can take to hold onto your valued team members.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor, more people are leaving their jobs right now than have in the last 20 years.i Some are referring to this as “The Great Resignation.”ii

The Great Resignation is a recent trend in which up to 60 percent of employees are thinking about quitting. Since your employees are your most valuable resource, The Great Resignation should be of importance to everyone.

To get a broader view of how to handle The Great Resignation, leaders from The Hershey Company, Lumen Technologies and Qualtrics were asked about what they are planning as responses to retain their teams. Here are their responses.iii

1. Ask Your Team for Input Around Productivity and Support Needed
Hershey asked for employee input around well-being, productivity and areas of support needed. Qualtrics used employee feedback to create a hybrid model of work.

Julia Anas, chief people officer at Qualtrics said, “Use the voice of your employees as a compass to inform how you think about decisions, what plans look like and their diverse needs. Create an opportunity for every voice to be heard.”

2. Take a Phased Approach
Lumen Technologies has a two-phased approach. Phase one involves:
• Surveying on-site employees about what’s working (and what’s not)

• Hosting leadership discussions

• Launching a content program focused on sharing information, from health and fitness tips to financial well-being resources

Phase two plans are to use the learnings from phase one, as well as to use pulse survey and engagement survey findings to decide how they’ll continue bringing back more employees.

3. Address Employee Well-Being
Hershey saw that during the pandemic, productivity levels were usually up, but levels of well-being were down. In response to this observation, Hershey rolled out the following well-being initiatives:

• Mental health resources for all employees

• Blocked Monday mornings and Friday afternoons for focus work

• Created resources for leaders on how to have conversations with employees about heading back to the workplace

• Leveraged employee resource groups (ERGs) to support employees and managers. For example, the women’s group at Hershey hosts monthly small group meetings to discuss challenges unique to women.

4. Leverage Continuous Listening
What is continuous listening? Continuous listening is a methodology based on the idea that feedback matters all the time — not just once a year during a performance review, or once a year during an engagement survey. Continuous listening (i.e: feedback) matters even after team members leave your practice and unofficially serve as alumni ambassadors for your brand.iv

Hershey, Lumen and Qualtrics are all instituting continuous listening programs within their companies. Paige Blackhurst, Director, Talent Management at Lumen said, “What we think to be true now may very well change in six to eight months as employee sentiments change. We’re doubling down with a focus on the candidate experience to get proactive on how to create success at Lumen. We want to equip people leaders with the insights they need.”

So, what are you doing in your practice to retain your team during “The Great Resignation?” Review what you learned in this article and make sure you have a plan – even a phased plan – to address this issue in your practice.

i. Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (
ii. The Great Resignation: What You Need To Know To Succeed And Prosper – Jeffrey Feldberg
iii. 4 Ways To Retain Talent During ‘The Great Resignation’ (
iv. Continuous Listening: How to Strengthen Employee Communication – TalentCulture

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