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My pre-IPO company is hiring fast. Should I still worry about the Great Resignation?

Attrition, even in small numbers, is a strain on a company. Ask yourself (and your employees) these 7 hard questions, says Maynard Webb.

My pre-IPO company is hiring fast. Should I still worry about the Great Resignation?
[Source illustration: Best Content Production Group/Getty Images]

Q. Our attrition numbers aren’t bad compared to the industry, and we’re hiring a record number of people, but we’re still deeply worried about the Great Resignation. What should we be doing? 

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-Founder of a late-stage, high-growth, pre-public company

Dear Founder, 

As I often say when it comes to attrition, this is a math problem. Even if you have lower attrition than others and are hiring at record speed, it still gets complicated when you experience the amount of effort it takes to replace someone. 

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For every person who leaves, managers must interview many candidates to try to find a replacement. Then they must get them trained, ramped, and ready. Every time a company loses a good person, it creates a hole that is not solved just by adding a new body. That person needs time to gain institutional experience and knowledge. While it sounds like your issue is not as big as what many companies are facing, it’s still a daunting problem that needs to be addressed. The fact that somebody has it worse doesn’t make it easy!

If you are dealing with any sort of attrition, it’s important to take a step back and take a holistic look at the company. Ask yourself some hard questions and be honest about the answers:

  • How happy are the people? 
  • What is the culture of the company? 
  • How are individuals treated?
  • What kind of relationship do people have with their bosses? 
  • What is the opportunity for personal career growth? 
  • How is the company treating families? 
  • How is it dealing with COVID-19 and returning to work? (People have learned that they don’t have to work the way they used to, and companies have learned that they can’t expect things to snap back to normal.)

There are many things that could be troubling employees and sparking thoughts of leaving. The first step in stopping it is acknowledging the issues and then identifying key things to work on. It is going to take making progress on more than one front to solve the attrition problem.

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Commit to making these changes and monitor progress on all. 

As a final note, some companies try to solve attrition issues with money. Having a culture of saving people with money teaches people that they can just ask for more pay to stay. While that may work in the moment, it’s a fix that goes away fast. Money is not soul food and therefore not a long-term solution. Companies need to retain people by making sure they are continuing to learn, grow, and do something unique in the world. 

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