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These 3 Post-Covid Personalities are Driving The Great Resignation Right Now.

And What Smart Managers are Doing to Get Employees to Stay.

Everywhere we turn, we’re hit with another headline about “The Great Resignation” -- remote employees balking at “return-to-work” guidelines from their companies and seeking employment elsewhere.

The statistics are staggering:

  • Surveys show anywhere from 25% to upwards of 40% of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers are beginning to quit their jobs in the highest rates seen since the year 2000, when they began collecting this data.

  • Most notably, in a study conducted by the Best Practice Institute, only 10 percent of employees want to return to the office in person on a full-time basis, while 83 percent of CEOs want employees to come back full time.

Alongside the Great Resignation, there resides The Great Resistance: employees banding together to express their reluctance or downright refusal to accept upper management’s policies as a fait accompli.

Take Apple for instance, where employees responded to CEO Tim Cook’s return-to-the-office directive with their own letter, citing “a disconnect between how the executive team thinks about remote/location-flexible work and the lived experiences of many of Apple’s employees”.

Google also found themselves in the hot seat when return-to-the-office edicts led employees to vote with their feet. Google has since revised their office return policy, extending remote work until September, and giving employees the option to return to their pre-pandemic office, work from a Google office in a different city, or permanently work from anywhere if their role allows it.

The key piece of advice we can take from both Apple and Google is simple: Listen to your employees.

Of course, as with most “simple” ideas, the adage “Easier said than done” comes to mind, a thought you likely had while reading this. When we’re caught up in the noise, it’s definitely harder to listen to what people are telling us.

Connecting with the 3 Post-Covid Personality Types to Minimize Resignations and Address Resistance

Here at Gillis Group, we’ve been working alongside HR managers to help manage employee attrition. One of the first steps we take involves identifying the 3 “Post-Covid Personality Types” as a means to foster understanding and nurture more meaningful conversations.

Covid Cowboy (or -girl) (CC)– These are the employees who are most eager to “return to normal” and get back to the office. They’re mask-free, and glad to be free to do what they enjoyed most before the pandemic: seeing people at the office, going out for drinks after work --- you know, the usual. Generally they feel like we need to worry less, and focus our energy on getting back to the office to “be productive.”

Connecting with CC – Empathy with the Covid Cowboy is key. Acknowledge their need and desire to return to normal. Demonstrate understanding. Also share the impact of not being careful – as we’ve seen some are getting sick despite vaccinations and the Delta variant is becoming a possible challenge to “normalcy.”

Key point to balance their struggle: Help them understand others’ perspective. “It’s great to see you want to come back, but we still need to take precautionary measures to protect the team. What does ‘meeting in the middle’ look like for you?”

Covid Anxious/Curious (CA) – Uncertainty was not this employee’s jam prior to the pandemic, and their anxiety/stress tends to manifest in questions: Will the office space be clean or reconfigured for distancing? How will I know who is (or isn’t) vaccinated? How will I be supported if I want to wear a mask? What will propel us back to a work from home scenario? CA’s crave clear communication; they want a schedule and need to understand their role and their team’s role in how to manage the return to the office.

Connecting with CA – First, acknowledge and validate their concerns. For this audience, it’s key to help them list out apprehensions to truly see what is worth worrying about. What is in our control, what is out of our control. We tend to worry about things that may or may not come to fruition – help them let go of things that may not be real until they are.

Key point to balance their struggle: “It’s completely understandable why you would feel anxious, given this situation none of us has faced before. What is your top concern and how can we help you address it?”

Covid Worried (CW)– A close cousin of the CA, CW’s feel that they’ve finally created the elusive work-life balance and wonder how they’ll manage re-entry. You’ll hear them say things like, “I’ve gotten really good at no commute, childcare management, yoga at 4pm and getting work done. Why do I need to re-enter at all?”

Connecting with CW: First, assume good intent and suspend judgment on what the employee’s motivation is. Instead, ask them to brainstorm alongside you to determine a solution that addresses their top concern.

Key point to balance their struggle: “You’ve clearly demonstrated that you can manage remote work under extreme circumstances. At the same time, we need you in the office on certain days. Would flexible hours on the days you’re here help with your commute issues?”

As you can see, key points can be applied to most archetypes. The overall skill you’ll need to apply is active listening. Assume good intent and suspend judgement in listening to different needs. Help folks brainstorm alternatives if in fact they need to be in the office certain days.

If it’s a situation where someone is not willing to return and/or compromise, you may need to refer to company policies and get HR’s help. But use that as a last resort. Make the effort to coach and listen to where your people are coming from. This is a new phase of change and people need time to adjust and think differently.


Like what you’re reading? Interested in fostering better conversations to create a culture of caring in your organization and on your team? The Gillis Group’s “Return to Work” training series offers a pathway for managers to mitigate employee attrition. Contact Ellen Gillis at to schedule a consultation.

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