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How Is “The Great Resignation” Affecting America’s Supply Chain?


How Is “The Great Resignation” Affecting America’s Supply Chain?

“The Great Resignation” has created a significant labor shortage in the United States and across the world. Workers have quite their jobs en masse, seeking new positions with better benefits, higher pay and opportunities for remote work.

In 2021, 47.4 million workers in the U.S. left their jobs – a record number, including more than 11 million in industries such as logistics and retail. Businesses are struggling to keep their doors open with skeleton crews or closing them entirely because there aren’t enough employees to keep their company operational.

This change might seem like a boon for workers and a negative for business owners, but these mass resignations impact more than just a company’s ability to keep the doors open and the lights on. With that in mind, how is the Great Resignation affecting the American supply chain?

What Caused the Great Resignation?

Understanding the impact of the Great Resignation begins with understanding what caused so many people to quit their jobs and leave the workforce behind in the first place.

The reasoning varies from person to person, but a Pew Research Center survey found similarities between the cases. People who quit cited:

● Low pay (63%)
● No advancement opportunities (63%)
● Disrespect in the workplace (57%)
● Childcare issues (48%)
● No flexibility (45%)
● Poor benefits (43%)

Other variables include cases where employees were either over- or under-scheduled or those with employers who required them to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine. These all sound like reasonably straightforward issues – things business owners could rectify if they chose to – but another challenge lies ahead.

Choose Two: Profit, Efficiency, Stability

Most modern businesses aren’t built on a sustainable model. Of the three points listed above, they most often choose profitability and efficiency, sacrificing stability when it comes to labor.

Employers, especially those that function off what would be considered “low-skilled” jobs aren’t concerned with keeping employees. Employee turnover for these entry-level positions saves them money and helps them pad their bottom lines because, if they replace their entire staff every couple of years, they don’t have to worry about raises.

With rising costs and economists estimating the average person will need to spend an extra $5,200 this year because of rising inflation, people can’t afford to languish in thankless jobs that don’t offer any options for advancement. Thus, the Great Resignation was born. The impacts of this movement are stretching a lot further than most people realize and it’s a lot broader than a “closed because of staffing issues” sign at local fast-food restaurants.

Immediate Impacts of the Great Resignation

It’s not just the end of the supply chain suffering because of the Great Resignation. Upwards of 20% of those who quit their jobs during 2021 left careers in the transportation, logistics, retail,
and wholesale industries.

It’s compounded other problems, such as the truck driver shortage that has impacted the trucking industry in recent years. The industry is currently short about 80,000 truck drivers. And as experienced drivers reach retirement age – with no new blood to replace them – that number will continue to climb. Autonomous electric trucks could help offset some of this shortage, but they aren’t ready for mass deployment.

These sectors have nearly 2 million job openings they can’t fill, impacting every aspect of the supply chain. 2021 saw an inflation rate of 7.0%, higher than it’s been in 39 years, which is driving up the costs of necessities like food.

Unfortunately, these impacts are predominantly only affecting the working class. Corporate pre-tax profits jumped by 25% year-over-year to a mind-blowing $2.81 trillion. When taxes get included, it jumps even higher – up 37% year over year, the most massive growth recorded since the Federal Reserve started tracking profits back in 1948.

Looming Consequences

It’s difficult to project the long-term consequences the Great Resignation might have on supply chains, but trends are starting to emerge that paint a clearer picture.

Inflation is higher than it’s been in decades and it’s expected to keep climbing. Gas prices, for example, are solidly above $4 a gallon as of May 2022 and will remain there for some time. Part of this is due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, but that isn’t the only variable. Food prices will likely continue to rise. If labor shortages in the logistics sector continue, shortages – especially in rural areas or those considered “food deserts” – will become more frequent.
Many of those who left the workforce during the Great Resignation may not have the option to return. This isn’t due to a lack of opportunities but rather a lack of affordable childcare. More
women quit their jobs than men during 2021 and with many childcare facilities closing or implementing strict new rules to cope with the new COVID-19 variants, many are struggling to reenter the workforce.

Fixing the Problem

What can employers do to help avert a potential supply chain crisis caused by the Great Resignation? The answer is simple, but with the current state of employment in the United States, it’s not likely to be implemented quickly or easily.

Employers need to start offering higher pay – an actual living wage. With inflation, $15 an hour is not a living wage anywhere in the United States. In the least-expensive state in the country,
someone would have to work for 72 weeks at $15 an hour to cover basic family expenses.

Other requirements for attracting and retaining good employees might include:

● Competitive benefits.
● Flexible working arrangements, including remote or hybrid work where appropriate.
● Collaborative work environments.
● A focus on emotional intelligence.

This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, and many of the problems are things that might fall on state or federal governments to fix, such as the federal minimum wage. Other solutions are things that employers may not have considered, such as making employee mental health a priority or fostering a culture of care. Offering better childcare options or benefits could also help to bring parents back into the workforce.

Building a Brighter Future

The Great Resignation will impact supply chains and life in general for some time to come. Until it’s resolved, consumers will face higher prices on consumables and more material shortages.

Instead of looking at it as an attack, employers and legislators need to consider it a wake-up call.

It is possible to fix these problems, but it won’t come easy. Building a brighter future is something everyone can and should work toward – together as equals.


Sidestep The Great Resignation: Keep Workers By Helping Their Communities

From a business perspective, the turbulent year of 2021 will be remembered for “The Great Resignation,” when record numbers of employees left their jobs.

But when it comes to the worldwide problem of talent shortages across many industries, perhaps employers haven’t seen anything yet. New Year’s resolutions of retaining top employees or finding the right talents when recruiting may be even more difficult to achieve, if you believe surveys such as one conducted in the fall of ‘21 by LumApps in collaboration with CMSWire. Seventy-one percent of U.S. participants in the poll say the pandemic made them rethink what they want out of their career, and 63% have considered a new career in the past year.

All that data fuels concerns among many employers that the talent shortage will continue to be a major problem in 2022. Everest Group’s 2022 Key Issues Study shows companies’ No. 1 constraint now is “finding enough talent to run the business.”

This talent crunch, along with the trend for many companies to move from 100% remote work to a hybrid model or back to a fully in-person model, is causing business leaders to reconsider what keeps their teams happy and productive. Many are asking: How can we keep employees invested in and passionate about our brand in this new hybrid environment?

One key to keeping the best employees on board may lie in how well companies give them the opportunity to put their own skills and interests into action in making a difference in the world. In the LumApps/CMS poll regarding “The Great Reflection” among workers, among the reasons cited are heightened demands for flexibility and inclusivity in the workplace, more career growth and companies that walk the talk about corporate social responsibility. Indeed, employees’ special gifts and passions for social issue involvement contribute towards helping their company’s overall impact efforts and also to employees’ fulfillment: 76% in the LumApps/CMS poll are looking for corporate social responsibility and 73% want to choose employers with a reputation for supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.

Just as businesses have unique abilities and resources to solve problems for their communities, their employees have their own set of talents that can add a rich dimension to the company’s social-impact profile. Unleashing those talents can be as simple and informal as assigning appropriate roles to your employees for a volunteer project. If there’s a photographer on the team, for example, have them take photos at the event. Have a group that loves to haul things in their pickup trucks? Put them in charge of collecting the cans from your office locations for your food drive.

Over time, of course, you can become more intentional and strategic about how you use your employees’ skills. We do an employee survey or focus group with our client teams to identify employee interests such as public speaking, strategic planning, committee leadership, budget planning, and more. Effectively leveraging these skills and interests helps extend our client’s impact footprint in the community, even with limited formal staff resources.

Employees, especially the younger workforce, are looking for a deeper meaning in their work and to feel as though they are contributing to something impactful. Millennials are especially vigilant about researching and weighing the values and cultures of companies they want to work for. Gen Z is following suit, looking for authentic commitments from their employer to take action to solve the world’s problems.

This is worth the effort: recent statistics on corporate social responsibility show that 95% of employees believe businesses should benefit all stakeholders, including the communities in which they operate, and 70% say they wouldn’t work for a company without a strong purpose.

Employers are understanding that social impact is a critical component to an effective business strategy. In today’s connected and interdependent world, employees increasingly demand that businesses and their suppliers take part in creating solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. It’s time to fire up those special talents and passions to build engagement and loyalty.


Maggie Z. Miller and Hannah Nokes are ForbesBooks co-authors of Magnify Your Impact: Powering Profit with Purpose ( They also are co-founders of Magnify Impact, a company that helps business leaders create effective social impact strategies. Miller has developed social impact solutions with hundreds of company leaders globally. Previously, she founded an international nonprofit organization to provide microcredit loans for thousands of women in Peru. Nokes has led corporate social responsibility for global corporations and founded an impact collaborative of companies in Austin, Texas.


Retaining Talent Through Sustaining Momentum: Tech’s Starring Role in The Great Resignation

We’re in the middle of a major shift in the workforce.

The pandemic caused a massive change from shared office space to remote work. As people spent time at home—and as they faced a multitude of intense stressors and even direct loss—they reevaluated what’s important when it comes to their careers.

Because of this, we’ve seen four million people quit their jobs in July 2021, and a record-breaking 10.9 million jobs remain open. You may have also seen the troubling statistic that up to 95% of the workforce is considering leaving their current company right now.

Companies looking to recruit and retain high performers are smart to take action in light of this Great Resignation. However, the answers may not be found in hefty signing bonuses or hasty returns to in-office collaboration.

The key is to lean even harder into the technology that has gotten us through this pandemic.

The pandemic as an unfortunate but powerful catalyst

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed business as usual, and companies had to become virtual, digital-centric, and agile faster than they could have imagined.

According to a global survey of executives conducted by McKinsey, companies took an average of only 11 days to move to remote working–40 times faster than they thought possible. Companies also adopted digital technologies for advancements in operations and decision-making 25 times faster than expected.

The pandemic disruption removed (sometimes artificial) barriers to adopting new technology and made it imperative that companies keep investing in technology to sustain, grow, and thrive.

Now let’s take it a step further: If we can leverage technology to get our businesses through a global pandemic, we can absolutely do the same to keep our people happy and engaged.

Here’s how.

1. Dig into the tools you already have

Businesses jumped into collaboration tools out of necessity over the pandemic with a very practical goal of keeping operations running remotely. With that hurdle cleared, it’s time we refocus our efforts from pure functionality to connection, culture, and engagement.

My team, for example, has been using Slack for nearly all of our internal communication and collaboration since 2017. Back then, our primary goal was to lessen email fatigue (which 38% of office workers say is likely to make them quit their jobs).

Once the pandemic hit, we needed that platform to do some heavier lifting for us. Some changes we’ve made include:

-Creating new forums (channels) for conversation around everything from the pandemic itself, to how we can best deliver value to our clients remotely, to social injustice and unlearning bias.

-Adding new integrations including more practical HR tools that “show” who is out when you can’t physically see your team, and fun tools like the Donut bot that randomly pairs employees up and facilitates conversations.

-Learning and taking advantage of the package’s ongoing developments, like the “huddle” feature and direct messaging with outside organizations.

-Doubling down on using our few mandatory channels for clear communication on changing policies, amplifying team achievements, and—perhaps most importantly—soliciting feedback.

Of course, keep in mind that simply providing tools is never enough; you have to also provide your team with the training to take proper advantage of them, and the safety and opportunity to do so. This is a place where active involvement (and modeling) from your leadership team can make a big difference.

2. Evaluate your tech through the lens of individual experience and equity

When it comes to engagement, 42% of employees say their peers have the greatest influence. We have also (fortunately) entered the stage where employees will not stand for what they perceive to be unfair treatment.

It’s incumbent on employers, then, to zero in on how employees experience their work on a day-to-day basis and whether they feel connected to their team and heard as an individual.

Take a run-of-the-mill department meeting, for instance. Say your new hybrid configuration has half the department in your office and half at home. Do the remote workers have equivalent means to participate in the meeting itself? In the more casual chit-chat that takes place before and after?  Can they clearly hear who is speaking and when they can interject? Can they read and add to notes being taken? Do they have the same opportunity to execute on any follow-up items?

Unbalanced interactions like this are subtle, but over time will erode connection and leave certain teammates feeling alienated. Identify places where you may be unintentionally creating rifts, and use that pandemic-inspired tech confidence to fix them. Some common areas for improvement are:

-A better conference room setup with barrier-breaking tools like the Vibe whiteboard and the Poly Studio soundbar/camera.

-A better home office setup with external cameras and speakerphones as needed, a stipend for better internet bandwidth, extra monitors, and so forth.

-Standardizing on a document co-authoring solution like SharePoint or Google Docs.

-Training your managers to opt for the most inclusive meeting and collaboration formats over what is most convenient.

Any new tools you add will require—you guessed it—training!

3. Make sure your digital presence reflects your priorities

My final point is one of visibility. If your company is making these great strides to do right by your team, do them and your business a favor by giving talented job seekers enough insight to want to join you.

Questions to consider are:

-Does our online presence (website, social media) show—not tell—our commitment to our people?

-Do our online employee reviews paint an accurate picture?

-Do our job descriptions capture our values in a way that an outsider would grasp? Are we explicit about remote work policy and benefits?

-Does our hiring process mirror our culture? Does it blend the responsiveness of automation with empathy?

Part of this involves the thoughtful use of specific technology tools. We, for example, have had great success with Bamboo HR to digitize, secure, streamline, and humanize our hiring and onboarding processes.

But a lot of this is the evolution of taking our office-bound corporate cultures digital. First and foremost we make sure all employees, regardless of location, are connected and bought into our culture. Then we take it externally and let all the talent out there know what we’re bringing to the table.

And the more we can get our current employees to tell our story online, the better—not only do most candidates inherently trust individuals over brands, but this also reinforces engagement with those employees.

Final thoughts

It’s true that the Great Resignation and the current labor shortage won’t last forever; people who want to change jobs or careers right now will make those shifts, and eventually the waves will settle.

The question is which organizations will come out on the other side with their high-performing employees intact, and with some new star players (whose previous employers weren’t savvy enough to keep them) on board.

If you want it to be yours, keep the momentum going. Technological competence and creative use of the right tools at the right time will empower your team to forge strong connections no matter where they’re physically located.

There are few competitive advantages as powerful as that.


Heinan Landa is the Founder and CEO of Optimal Networks, Inc., a Rockville, MD-based IT company that helps law firms and associations achieve measurable business results by way of thoughtful technology guidance and white-glove support. For three decades clients have turned to Optimal when they are spending too much time overseeing their IT team, are worried about the security of their data, or are concerned their technology isn’t providing the mobility or flexibility that their employees and clients expect. For more,, 240-499-7900, or