Thrive, Survive, or Cease to Exist: How Workplace Culture is Driving the Great Resignation

As America weathers “The Great Resignation,” there has been a marked shift in the power dynamic between employers and employees. Those companies who put finances over people may be surviving, but companies who understand the importance of fostering a people-centric organizational culture are thriving. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record number of 47.4 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021. Has your business been affected? There are very few who weren’t.

The pandemic has provided employees of all walks of life an opportunity to rethink their priorities and career goals. While higher pay and better benefits certainly played a part in these decisions, toxic company culture played a much bigger part than you may expect. In a recent survey, 1,000 people who quit their jobs during 2021 were asked about the reason they quit, and a resounding 31% of respondents indicated toxic company culture as the largest driver behind their decision.

Finance-focused companies merely surviving may not understand the significant unintended costs associated with having a toxic culture. Burnout, illness, absenteeism, high healthcare costs, workers’ compensation claims, litigation, accelerated talent attrition, and high levels of employee stress, are just a few of the many potential costs to your company’s bottom line. According to a 2017 study published in Mental Health America, increases in employee stress levels alone cost US employers an estimated $500B in lost productivity.

Values are the glue that holds an organization together, provides support, and builds community. In people-centric organizations, employees feel seen, heard, valued, derive meaning and purpose from their work, and are motivated to contribute to the organization’s success. While some initiatives to improve your company’s culture can be viewed as costly and time-consuming, there are quite a few that are easy to implement and have little to no impact on the company’s bottom line. Here are just a few examples.

Work-Life Balance Structure

Empathic leaders demonstrate their concern for others through people-centric policies, procedures, and organizational structure. Multiple pandemic waves have added substantial stress and complexity to an already challenging set of work-life demands. Some easy ways to mitigate some of this stress for your team could include hybrid work models, meeting-free Fridays, flexible scheduling, volunteer days for your staff to give time to worthy causes, and encouraging managers to regularly review employee workloads.


The benefits of ongoing communication between company leadership and staff include an increase in transparency, engagement, commitment, and productivity. Ongoing communication regarding current challenges, strengths, strategies, and key success metrics conveys appreciation, respect, and real-time recognition of how each area contributes to the overall success of the organization. Great communication is not only at the micro-level between managers and their teams but also comes from the higher level via means such as town halls, appreciation events, and company newsletters.

Wellbeing Initiatives

Multiple pandemic waves have exacerbated the physical and psychological effects affecting today’s workers. Organizations that support their employees’ psychological health through providing innovative, evidence-based initiatives that include wellness coaching, wellness assistance programs, counseling, wellness talks, and mindfulness courses, are moving in the right direction. Investing in your employee’s health does not only mean from a physical standpoint.

Leaders who fail to support a people-centric culture will accelerate the momentum of “The Great Resignation” and risk extinction. Leaders that understand people-centric values and best practices foster attracting, engaging, and retaining the requisite talent to sustain their organization’s success will thrive. Your employees are your company’s largest investment financially…they should be culturally as well.

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