Deeper Thoughts
The Great Resignation and the Importance of Small Businesses

I came across a fascinating article recently. The author took a unique track in explaining the Great Resignation. In short, he explained that people aren’t really wired for uncertainty and disconnection in their interpersonal interactions. Today’s WFH/hybrid/virtual world, in many ways, has fed that uncertainty. People don’t see co-workers outside of work as often as they once did. They don’t quite understand others’ facial expressions, quirks, nuances and communication styles, in large part, because their interactions are limited to glitchy teleconferences, emails and other less personal forms of communication. 

The author goes on to conclude that these “narrative gaps” could be one of the hidden drivers of the Great Resignation, encouraging workers to leave the discomfort of their current jobs to seek increased purpose and connections at work.

Leadership branding

One possible solution to this challenge, according to the article, is “leadership branding.” In essence, business leaders—especially in larger businesses—should be using video, blogs, texts, phone calls and emails to share more of who they are, personally, with their teammates and employees. The underlying assumption is that employees are inspired by their interpersonal connections and feeling tied in to leadership and the greater vision of that leadership team.

Now, I haven’t seen too many statistics on the question I’m about to ask, but I’d wonder if the resignation rate of the past two years varies significantly from larger businesses (100 employees and up) and smaller businesses. If I were a betting man, I’d take the odds that folks are leaving larger businesses at a higher rate. And the theory we’ve just discussed could have a lot to do with that.

The continued importance of small businesses in our space

The mortgage industry is one of the few left in our economy where a small business can still make a very big difference. Yes, many of our small firms grow into bigger and then big firms, maybe get acquired. But, even now, investors and entrepreneurs from other industries tend to shy away from our highly regulated mosaic of markets, rules and requirements. And so, it’s entirely possible that small or smallish businesses make up a larger portion of the participants in our space.

LodeStar started as about as small of a business as you could have. Even our recent honors and accomplishments haven’t really changed that we’re still a small business. It frees us to take a stand on positions that might not otherwise be popular with stakeholders. It allows us to use our communication channels to champion causes rather than sponsors. I like to think we’ve taken that freedom and run with it. 

Similarly, even though we have a very flexible WFH policy, as a small business, we can’t operate without regular communication. We tend to rely on visual meetings and in-person contact (as best we can), and I try to explain my reasoning for strategic meetings to employees whenever possible. 

Interpersonal interaction as the rule, not the exception

If you’ve ever worked for a small business at any time in your lives, you know that interpersonal interaction is the rule, not the exception. There’s too much to be done and employees need to wear numerous hats to get the job right. And yet, some of the greatest examples of fulfillment and purpose through employment that I’ve heard about have happened for people working for small businesses.

Am I saying that large businesses are inherently bad places to work? Of course not. And I’ve also seen my share of small businesses that are as toxic as any workplace. But I do think that, in light of this fascinating observation about communication gaps as a driver for the Great Resignation, people seeking more purpose in their employment have something to think about.


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