Avoiding the Great Resignation and Regret

How I believe we’ve avoided the ‘Great Resignation’ and are preventing the ‘Great Regret’ through Optimal Motivation.

Chris Wollerman CEO InnovaSystems International, LLC and Inspire Software, LLC
August 31, 2022

Over the past year, much has been written about the ‘Great Resignation’ based on the record-breaking numbers of employees quitting companies.  Over 24 million workers quit their jobs between April and September 2021 and the trend continues in 2022. 


To better understand and help leaders respond, Refelio Labs analyzed 34 million online profiles to identify US workers who left their jobs for any reason during this time and published their results in a powerful MIT Sloan study.  They were also able to determine the average attrition rate by industry during this time. The two relevant industries for our company (InnovaSystems International, LLC) are Enterprise Software with an attrition rate of 13% and defense with an attrition rate of 9% between April-September 2021.  Our attrition rate at InnovaSystems during this period was 5.3% and over the past two quarters in 2022 was 5.0%, the best in our 25-year history.


Although much of the media around the great resignation indicated compensation was a primary reason, the data from the MIT Sloan study shows that this is only the 16th ranked reason why people quit.  The #1 indicator of attrition they found was due to a toxic culture as the strongest predictor of turnover.  Other strong factors include job insecurity, high innovation (likely due to the high levels of hours and stress involved), failure to recognize good performance and poor response to COVID-19. 


We believe Optimal Motivation (OM) is the key to a strong culture which has  helped us minimize effects of  the Great Resignation. Optimal motivation is what  best-selling author Susan Fowler describes in her recent books Master Your Motivation and Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work and What Does. OM is based on the 3 psychological needs of Choice, Connection and Competence. We’ve trained our leaders and implemented the concepts of OM in Inspire Software to build and sustain a strong culture with flexibility (choice of work location and times), meaningful work (strong connection with customer and teams), and continued learning (competence with many professional development and lateral career move opportunities). Susan describes this further in her recently published article titled How companies can help employees avoid the “Great Regret”.


According to several recent articles in the news, many employees who quit recently are now experiencing the ‘Great Regret’.  Many of the employees who quit did not realize they were joining another toxic culture.  Through various studies, employees have reported that they miss their previous teams where they enjoyed social interaction with friends and colleagues.  The MIT Sloan study supports this and recommends four short-term steps for companies to increase retention including company-sponsored social events, lateral career opportunities, remote work arrangements and offering predictable schedules. 

Our intent at Innova is to  address each of these specific components which are consistent with leading using the skills of Optimal Motivation to continue providing our employees the 3 psychological needs—Choice, Connection and Competence.  We believe that this approach will minimize the ‘Great Regret’ and help companies thrive in the coming months during these turbulent times.


To learn more, register for my upcoming webinar with HCI and special guest, Susan Fowler, on September 7 at 2pm Eastern with this link.