The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a whole new set of challenges for healthcare leaders across Canada and beyond. As we navigate what has come to be known as Canada’s "Great Resignation," it is becoming increasingly clear that labour shortages are on the forefront of every leader’s mind. 

What are the root causes of this movement? How has the Great Resignation impacted healthcare specifically? And what can healthcare leaders do to minimise turnover during turbulent times?

What is the 'Great Resignation?'

Coined by Dr. Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, the Great Resignation refers to the decisions of millions of workers to vacate their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

2021 saw Canadian unemployment rates surge to 8.3% from the 5.7% pre-pandemic rates captured in February 2020. Though these numbers consider a broad range of industries, COVID-19 is particularly testing the resiliency of the healthcare field which has often been considered recession-proof

The significant uptick in resignations can be attributed to a few potential factors, but in the healthcare industry, the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers is unsurprisingly a major driver.

Working through a pandemic has pushed many past their breaking points as a result of higher than usual workloads, increased health risks, and constantly evolving protocols.

A labour shortage in healthcare is never ideal, but during a pandemic, it can cause major issues that threaten individual and public health. But what can we, as healthcare leaders, do to improve turnover in our industry?

Turning The Employment Tides

If your workplace is feeling the impact of the Great Resignation, there are some tools that can help you, as a leader, reduce employee turnover.

First, identify the root causes of turnover in your workplace. It is important to explore some of the various metrics that are specific to the healthcare industry such as exhaustion, increased health risk, changing protocols, and government mandates. 

Then, ask yourself what innovative solutions you can implement to fit your employees’ specific needs. Even if you’re not positioned to make direct changes without consulting applicable unions, managers, and other stakeholders, there may be little things you can do to help alleviate stress for your coworkers and colleagues. 

Do people seem exhausted or confused about changing protocols? Help provide clarity each time there is a change and make sure everyone knows exactly what that means for them. Are you noticing increased tension between team members? Think about what kinds of things you can do or say to lift their spirits. 

Most importantly, do your best to lead with empathy and positivity. If you set the tone for the welcoming culture you want to work in, it’s much more likely that your colleagues and coworkers will follow suit.

Finding Time for Self-Care in Healthcare

Remember, above all, that the past two years have been incredibly difficult for healthcare workers—and that includes you.

In order to lead your team through challenging times, it’s important to take care of yourself.

If you’re struggling to find a balance between caring for your patients/clients, caring for your colleagues and coworkers, and caring for yourself, it’s ok to ask for help.

Contact us anytime if you’re interested in learning how coaching services and workshops can help you successfully navigate the changing landscape of your workplace.


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