The Great Resignation in Australia: Star Employee Resigns? How To Prepare for ‘The Great Resignation’

Picture this: your star employee resigns. Your biggest earner. An all-round quality human being.

It almost doesn’t bear thinking about.

Yet this is what’s facing many organisations as Australia crawls out of 18+ months of COVID restrictions.

And it’s set to happen on scale.

In the US alone, millions of workers – from entry level and front line to senior executives – are voluntarily waving the white flag on their job. And Australia isn’t immune.

“The movement of talent is so significant and so sharp that it’s different to probably anything we’ve seen in living memory,”

Aaron McEwan, Gartner (Source: ABC)

What’s Going On?

The pandemic has changed the way we think and act (and that goes beyond working). It’s basically reengineered how we perceive our value with our employer. Working from home means many advantages of being with a company, simply vanish. No Friday gatherings. No great office in the city. No time with colleagues who may also be friends. It’s just work.

So, we’re starting to view our lives as a whole entity. Not compartmentalised into professional and personal.

And we’re seeking more as individuals. We’re seeking to be seen as humans, not workers. This shift is seismic.


pandemic contingency plan

How to Prepare for a Talent Exodus?

When a star employee resigns, it’s almost too late to rethink your culture. So, preparing now, is key. Here are some tips to help retain existing people:

1 Prioritise Engagement

Engagement is focused on improving the workplace, the culture and the communications channels, so your people feel more connected to the business.

Consider the following:

  • Better listening to your people will offer you a better understanding of their needs
  • Keeping the lines of communication open, will empower people to engage in greater dialogue with you. And the feedback loop is established
  • Reward people who go beyond the call of duty
  • As we return to the office, it’s not business as usual (it may never be). So, bring people together regularly, encourage sharing of experiences with each other. This unity will help to boost engagement

2 Dial Up Communication

Speaking of communication, focus on this point as a strategic initiative. If a star employee resigns, they’ve likely experienced some form of communication breakdown.

And as people return to the office, there needs to be a feeling of transparency between people and powers that be. Communication not only helps worker engagement, but it also inspires innovation, motivation and ideas.

By returning to the office and seeing the workplace hit pre-COVID status quo, frustration and disappointment will likely ensue. Set your pathway now, for open, regular and clear communications.

career downsizing

3 Establish Greater Flexibility

Thanks to COVID, most workers have now seen how flexible companies can be, while maintaining output. And they’re not willing to relinquish these freedoms.

Most organisations are rethinking the ‘how’ of working, in the post-COVID world. A hybrid solution of both remote and on-site is a great option to offer your people. Some workers may not be comfortable to come back into the office for fear of COVID. Understandably so. Providing the flexibility to choose, will bode well for talent retention.

Additional options to help your business greater flexibility include:

  • Condensed work weeks
  • Part-time jobs
  • Job sharing
  • Flexibility with holiday periods
  • Customised working hours
  • Engage contingent workers to support flexibility for employees

4 Get Hiring: Employees and Contingent Workers

Despite every effort to avoid the situation where a star employee resigns, you’ll likely experience some attrition in the next few months.

So, addressing your workforce strategy now is a good pre-emptive step.

Building up a talent pipeline to plug future skills gaps is one strategy. Engaging more contingent workers is another. Both approaches will enhance your workforce model, with the focus being on minimal business interruption.


If a star employee resigns from your business, there are multiple strategic steps you can take to minimise impact. Focusing on team engagement and the health and happiness of your people will go a long way to avoid mass attrition.

If you would like to discuss the great resignation, and how it may affect your business, I’d be delighted to catch up. You can reach me here.