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The ABC of Retention in the Great Resignation By David Waters

Staff Retention is Possible When You Stick to the A-B-C  Plan

By now, most people are aware of the phrase “The Great Resignation” and its impact on staff retention.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more Americans left their jobs during April, July, August, and September of 2021 than any other months prior. From CEOs of large companies to pastors of large and small churches, employees quit, retired, or transferred to other jobs.

In November of 2021, I was interviewed by The Washington Times about the pervasiveness of pastors and church staff members resigning. It was stated that 4 out of every 10 pastors were considering quitting, and I was asked if I felt that was accurate. Personally, it seemed like every pastor and church staff member I knew at that time had considered quitting or, at the very least, taking an extended sabbatical. Despite the varied reasons why so many are leaving during the Great Resignation, there are a few things that churches and organizations can consider to help retain their pastors, leaders, and staff.

It’s time to review the ABCs of retaining staff.

A – Acknowledge Good

Focus on the successes and strengths of employees! One of the greatest motivations in the workplace is knowing that you are valued and making a difference. Yet, in many organizations, including churches, value and difference-making can go unnoticed or unrecognized during times of crisis. During the global pandemic, it was easy for organizations and churches to go into survival mode. Add that to being isolated from other staff and people whom an organization and church might influence, it can cause people to feel undervalued. Acknowledging strengths and successes directly from supervisors to direct reports, at staff meetings, and throughout the organization will help remind employees of their direct contributions that make a difference in people’s lives.

B – Be Flexible

One of the frequent reasons, people were resigning is their ability to work from home, which provided more time for employees to spend with family instead of commuting to and from work. As the pandemic eases, consider offering flex-time or flex days throughout the week to employees.

C – Compensate More

While it’s no longer viewed as the only motivation or primary motivation for workplace satisfaction, compensation is definitely a factor, especially in a high or hyperinflation economy. At the very least, consider giving your employees a cost-of-living raise comparable to inflation. However, if merit is warranted, be generous in the effort to keep competent staff. If increasing a person’s pay is not possible for the church or organization at the time, consider increasing other benefits, especially paid time-off.

While these ABCs will help during The Great Resignation, 100% staff retention is not possible and might not even be beneficial.

If you find yourself looking for a new pastor, director, president/CEO, or other executive staff, FaithSearch Partners NonProfit+ team excels in pairing the right leadership with the right opportunities. FaithSearch consultants bring more than 130 years of cumulative search experience in faith-based executive search.


David Walters joined the FaithSearch team as a search consultant in 2021 while also serving as senior pastor of Alpharetta First United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Walters has led the 5,000+ member congregation in Alpharetta since 2019.

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