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Megan Prescott March 29 7 min read

Employee Turnover: Is The Great Resignation or Your Culture to Blame?

Some employee turnover is normal, sometimes even healthy. And with Gen Z entering the workforce, ‘job hopping’ is anticipated to be more common than ever.  However, during the Great Resignation, how do you know if a revolving door of employee churn is occurring due to competitive offers, generational patterns, or because you have major root issues within your workplace culture?


Don’t immediately shrug off your turnover as healthy, ‘weed the garden’ turnover or is caused by economic factors outside of your control. Make sure to look within, and audit your culture for signs of toxicity and issues you need to shine the light on, and get ahead of. 

 

Signs Your Culture is Your Root Issue

Utilize the below as a checklist to audit key leading and lagging indicators that your culture may be suffering. If your organization practices EOS, this is a great tool during your Leadership L10s to find issues that need to be ‘IDSed’. Oftentimes, leaders are the last to know due to a natural fear of reprisal independent contributors and middle management assume. If you can answer yes to a third or more of these questions, start investigating, and taking action.

  • You’re Losing Control of Results & Your Day Early, downstream signs of a toxic culture undercurrent start to show themselves when you’re losing control of meeting goals, results begin to suffer, and unforeseen circumstances continue to interrupt your day. There may be other contributing factors, but don’t discount employee burnout and disengagement as a core contributor. 

  • Client Satisfaction Decreases In service-based businesses, Client Satisfaction scores or NPS scores dipping is often attributed to a lack of meeting results and declining quality customer service. If your people aren’t happy, your clients are sure to feel it. 

  • Turnover Happens in Waves Unless your culture is impenetrable, the Great Resignation may have snagged some of your best people because companies are willing to pay up for top talent. But if you’re seeing mass exits in waves, you most likely have a culture problem. People don’t tend to leave jobs, they leave managers, cancerous peers, broken processes, and poor cultures. Oftentimes, people are only staying for other top performers at that point, so when one throws in the towel, and others follow,  you need to look within. 

  • You Stop Receiving Feedback When employees are engaged and not only want to work in the business, but on the business, they give feedback. Solicited or unsolicited feedback, either one, you’re probably used to people bringing you suggestions, ways the company can improve, or processes that are broken. If you notice your common ‘givers’ cease to provide feedback, you need to be alarmed. They’ve probably given up that change and continuous improvement will come.

  • Volunteering Comes to a Halt Same goes for volunteering. There are always those enthusiastic volunteers that want to help around the business whether on culture, task forces, or process improvements. When they stop raising their hands to volunteer, chances are they are burnt out and have given up hope that their contribution will have an impact.

  • Collaboration is Low Watch your peer-to-peer interactions. Have your collaborators stopped working together? Are people working alone, or are they combative when working together? Maybe there’s a core people problem that needs to be addressed or they have reached a, ‘what’s the point, my input doesn’t matter’ phase in their burnout. 

  • Dysfunction and Confusion is High Nothing disrupts engagement more than role, responsibility or vision confusion. When people are stepping on toes, dropping balls, and appear confused, it’s time to get aligned. When you spy constant dysfunction within a department or across your entire organization, there’s a key breakdown in communication. Either there’s a kink in the chain of middle management, process confusion, or there’s a vision trickle-down issue from leadership. 

  • Energy and Body Language is Poor Never discount low energy in the room. When there’s a pattern of low energy, it’s a tell-tale sign of disengagement. If you’re virtual, look for patterns of mass ‘no-video’ participation, lots of ‘never came off mute’ participants, a lack of eye contact, and other abnormal tech or body language signs. The key is patterns rising. Don’t take away the need for those tech features when folks are on the road, sick, or take away the autonomy to choose to contribute positively. Just note it’s a sign, and begin to explore. 

 

 How to Get Ahead of Culture Issues

  • Solicit for Intentional, Specific Feedback When you stop receiving feedback in 1:1s or unsolicited ways to improve, get intentional about requesting feedback. Work with leadership to develop key areas of the business you want to receive feedback on. Make sure you create safe, confidential ways to collect feedback such as anonymous pulse surveys as fear of reprisal becomes a huge concern to disengaged employees. Also consider tools such as 360 or Skip-Level surveys or interviews so peers and leaders receive feedback on individual contributors, and managers. This will help you identify if you have a people problem at the root of your culture issues. 

  • Do Something With It NEVER survey unless you plan to take action. You must be prepared to make gathering, synthesizing results, and implementing change a top priority immediately after you close out feedback efforts. Asking for feedback, and doing nothing with it is more damaging than remaining ignorant to the issues. Also, be sure to hone in on common themes you see throughout, and build patterns. You can’t fix everything at once, so keeping a filter top of mind of ‘is this a symptom or a core issue?’ This will help you focus on what to tackle first, and know what will have the most impact.

  • Create a Framework & Taskforce Involve different levels of the organization in how you respond to a suffering culture. Do not create a culture committee solely focused on fun to distract from the issue. Find or develop a framework of how you’re going to engage a task force and tackle issues. Don’t try to solve it all at one level of the business. Bringing in your key players and multiple perspectives is the way to go. Consider encouraging individual contributors and middle management to read or listen to The Culture Code to stimulate ideas on how to fix systemic issues, and ways to approach culture.

  • Over-Communicate with Humility Create a cadenced, multi-channel approach to communicate consistently on how you’re working to solve challenges and how you’re going to continue to work to improve the key problem areas as identified in your feedback gathering. Strip away all jargon, fluff, and shoot straight. If there’s anything more toxic to a culture, it’s inauthentic, or contrived sounding communication. 

  • Mitigate Confusion If confusion within roles, processes, expectations or the vision are a challenge, immediately begin working to define the core issue in detail, and begin working on a plan to solve for the issue(s). If you’re having trouble identifying the root cause, consider frameworks like the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) - a structured operating system that you can implement to better work on the business, allowing your team to gain traction within the business. 

  • Make More Time to Celebrate & Reward Top Performers Often times we focus on the bottom 10% of the organization too much. We’re focused on PIPs, write-ups, and ways we can motivate these team members. You cannot motivate, you can only inspire. So begin to invest the same amount of effort if not more on your top 10%. Have your people managers and leadership report out on who’s shining, producing results, and positively contributing to the culture. What are they doing differently to inspire and engage with those team members? What characteristics stand out in these folks? What are they doing to grow and continuously improve? Discuss how you can raise them up, peer-match them to team members struggling, and make a plan to focus on their growth within your organization. Others will see the growth opportunities, and recognition, and crave the same.

All-in-all, the key here is to remain conscientious of what’s going on in your business, and not attribute employee churn to the Great Resignation, solely. Get ahead, look within, and hey, maybe you don't find anything. That’s great! We just wanted to offer you a tool and some tips so that you can run your own audit and pin point growing culture concerns. After all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

But if you do find yourself in a culture pinch, and need help regrowing your team while your team focuses on fixing core issues, we’re always here to help.


If you do realize that your hunch was right about losing people due to the Great Resignation, and especially gain feedback in exit interviews that compensation was the culprit, be sure to download our 2021-2022 HubSpot Ecosystem Salary Guide below to help better inform market rate adjustments you can make during review and merit increase periods.

Download the Salary Guide