An alarming number of employees began quitting their jobs in the Spring of 2021. This increased level of turnover is referred to as “The Great Resignation.”  Up until now, “The Great Resignation” has taken the spotlight for many organizations. However, a new trend is surfacing. 

This trend is called, The Great Regret. The Great Regret is being used to describe the fact that many employees are not finding what they are looking for in other organizations. Instead, they are beginning to “regret” their decision for leaving their previous company.  In other words, the churn is creating an endless cycle of leaving and longing.

What can organizations do to break the cycle of resignation and regret?

Below are several practical actions you can take in your organization: 

  1. Equip your managers to create and reinforce a culture of development
  2. Define and transparently share career pathways
  3. Create equitable development opportunities for all managers and individual contributors

Equipping Managers to Coach for Development:

Organizational culture is defined either intentionally or by default. Culture is a function of what people do (how they act) and why they do it (how they think) over time. 

(Behavior + Intention) x Time = Culture

When it comes to creating a culture of development, equip your managers to:

Behavior:  Listen to and inquire about employees’ professional development needs, while also providing meaningful and specific feedback

Intention:  Partner with employees to identify meaningful experiences for both in-role development and broader career advancement

Time:  Dedicate time for ongoing developmental conversations and check-ins to support the employee’s professional development 

The BEAR Model (beliefs, experiences, actions, results) is a formula that leaders can use to intentionally create an engaging and appealing culture that improves employee satisfaction and builds commitment

Defining and Sharing Career Pathways:

One factor often contributing to employee dissatisfaction and departure is the belief that career advancement is limited or non-existent. Leaders and HR professionals can avoid talent churn by clearly defining and transparently sharing career pathways.  Development opportunities do not have to be linear or strictly about advancement, but also about gaining different types of experience in multiple functions or groups.  Showcasing how this development lattice works and providing resources for employees to understand their options is critical.  

When reviewing your organization’s career development practices, it is important to clearly define and answer the following questions:

  1. What does career development mean in your organization? 
  2. Do you clearly communicate the importance and value of lateral movement and variety of experiences?
  3. What are the internal career development opportunities available in your organization?
  4. What are the career paths in your organization?

When career development opportunities are clearly defined and transparently shared, and career paths are outlined for critical positions, engagement increases and needless departures decline. 

Creating Development Opportunities:

There is often a disconnect between managers and employees on defining what constitutes a development opportunity. Employees often associate development opportunities with promotions or projects that are outside the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities. Managers, on the other hand, may define development opportunities beyond promotions and special projects. For example, contributing to or leading a presentation for a senior leader or client may be a terrific development opportunity. Providing mentorship or coaching to another employee is a great experience for someone seeking a future managerial role. Participating in a conference, industry event, or networking opportunity may also be considered valuable developmental experiences. 

When reviewing your organization’s career development opportunities, it is important to answer the following questions:

  1. What types of experiences does your organization consider developmental?
  2. What internal career development opportunities exist?
  3. What is the availability and access to external career development opportunities?
  4. What are the current market trends for development opportunities within your industry?


Remember, employees may leave positions because they are dissatisfied with certain aspects of their job and possibly the relationship with their manager. Those same employees may be replacing others who left for similar reasons.  Organizations who proactively take the steps outlined above are on a path to stopping or slowing this endless cycle of high turnover and low employee engagement. In turn, this will reduce recruitment and retraining costs and restore organizational stability.  

If The Great Regret surfaces after The Great Resignation, what will you do to combat the negative impact to your organization? For HR & L&D practitioners, The Great Regret may surface lower levels of engagement, more requirements for onboarding, and increased efforts to address employee job satisfaction. 

WLH combines our knowledge of industry trends, retention, and human capital expertise to help organizations retain high-performing talent. If you are interested in learning more about how to ready your organization for what happens after The Great Resignation, please schedule an exploratory call to learn more about WLH and how we can help.

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