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How is the Great Resignation affecting your customers?

The Great Resignation, the Turnover Tsunami, the Big Quit - call it what you will, but what remains is that the current mass exodus of employees can have a seriously detrimental effect on how companies function. As staff comes under increasing pressure and stress, this has a direct impact on the customer journey and experience. It’s important for leaders to be aware of how this new shift in the labor market could affect their customer’s experience and perception of their company, so here are some areas to be aware of where things could go wrong.

Low staffing levels

The first and most obvious impact is that there are simply fewer employees to do the work. Customers are negatively impacted by low staff levels as they are subjected to longer waiting times for services or goods, and staff grows frustrated, demotivated, and exhausted.

Those businesses in the leisure and hospitality industries are the most at risk of losing employees (I’m sure we have all had the experience recently of long wait times due to staff shortages) but according to a survey by McKinsey, the healthcare and white-collar sectors are as much at risk, with many employees saying they plan to quit in the next six months. What makes the Great Resignation different from previous labor trends is that people are increasingly willing to quit without another job to go to. McKinsey estimates that this trend could persist.

Brain drain

When employees are under pressure to get the job done, it can feel like the bare minimum is all that is possible. In a high turnover situation, staff doesn’t have the benefit of prior knowledge or peer mentors whom they can learn from. When they have to constantly reinvent the wheel it can feel futile and demoralizing, which means they are less likely to be innovative or come up with creative solutions to problems. With staff suffering, you can be sure your customers are too; and if they feel that there is a more forward-facing and dynamic company that could serve their needs better, they will vote with their feet.


Without a consistent workforce, it's difficult to maintain levels of service. A lack of training, knowledge transfer, and the ability to keep up with quality standards or service level agreements means that customers may not experience a consistently good service or what they are used to receiving, leaving them dissatisfied. Customers can feel the disorder when teams aren’t properly trained or departments use different procedures. In turn that leaves staff feeling disconnected and disillusioned, potentially fuelling staff turnover further.

So how can you mitigate these potential damages? First, you can’t fix problems you don’t understand. Senior leaders need to delve deep into why their employees are leaving - and too often they don’t get it right. In the McKinsey survey, employers thought that compensation, poor physical/mental health, and work-life balance were the most important factors in an employee’s decision to leave. However, staff quit because they didn’t feel valued by their organization or manager, or that they didn’t have a sense of belonging at their company. So much has changed and there is much to learn, so it’s time to step back, take stock and really listen to your employees and what they want.

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