The term “Great Resignation” created a lot of buzz in 2021 – and rightfully so. With nearly 38 million people voluntarily leaving their jobs for a range of professional and personal reasons, the past year has been all about quits and reshuffles. However, as organizations struggle to find perfect-fit hires to fill the positions left vacant by their star employees, many business leaders see the silver lining amidst the chaos as opportunities to adopt innovative strategies for retaining and attracting talent.

The Labor Force Participation rate has also seen a slow decline over the past decade, with the figure dropping from 63.9% in January 2011 to 61.9% in November 2021. While the difference between the two ratios may not seem that significant, it has become a source of concern for hiring managers and HR professionals across the country. Despite the increase in more job openings, companies across a multitude of industries are having a hard time attracting candidates that check all of the boxes in terms of qualifications and relevant experience.

Interestingly, 2021 also saw a record number of people being hired. However, millions of positions remain unfilled due to a substantial shortage of qualified candidates. So, before we discuss tips on how business leaders and hiring managers can capitalize on the Great Resignation while retaining talent in their companies, let’s take a brief look at the phenomenon and what is causing so many employees to bid farewell to their employers.

What is the Great Resignation?

Great Resignation is a term coined by economists to describe many people leaving their jobs over the past two years. The unprecedented situation has left organizations grappling to navigate the ripple effects of the “Big Quit” and reevaluate their talent acquisition and employee retention strategies.

Although the term implies a pure subtraction, it is anything but that. While it is true that professionals are quitting their jobs in droves, it does not necessarily mean they are all trying to start their own ventures or taking an indefinite break. The dramatic increase in resignations is followed by many workers reconfiguring their careers and switching to industries or companies that offer better career opportunities, often with higher salaries and added benefits.

In other words, it’s a job hop on a massive scale. Moreover, some resignations also include much-needed sabbaticals, early retirements, and individuals exiting the workforce to fulfill their caregiver duties.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 4.5 million workers left their jobs in November 2021. This was the highest reported rate of 2021, above the already sobering 4.2 million who quit in October and the nearly 4.4 million in September. Other than slight declines in May and June, the number of job quits has continued to increase each month since January 2021.

Presently, many professionals are leveraging the current situation to enter the industries that offer more attractive career prospects. Meanwhile, others are looking for work environments that align with their values. Nonetheless, future-seeking business leaders are quickly learning how to capitalize on the Great Resignation to overcome the ongoing hiring crisis and find perfect-fit hires who can take their companies to new levels of success through their determination and expertise.

The Shifting Priorities of the Workforce

Companies can only accelerate their efforts for attracting and retaining talent once they pinpoint the main reasons, so many employees are resigning in the first place.

The closure of workplaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic paired with the global restrictions on movement has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. That being said, the individuals who excelled at their jobs did not decide to quit out of the blue. Their desire to seek a better future was spurred by a deep dissatisfaction with their working conditions.

The new priorities of the workforce are not something out of the ordinary. An increasing number of professionals realize they are people before they are workers and that their job is only one aspect of their lives. The ongoing pandemic has also forced many to reconsider their career aspirations, work-life balance, and long-term goals.

Different surveys show burnout, the behavior of the employer, low wages, lack of benefits, and poor work-life balance to be the top reasons people handed in their resignation letters this past year. Furthermore, lack of corporate vision and misaligned management styles have always been among the leading reasons behind a high employee turnover rate.

It is also worth mentioning that this wave of resignations is predicted to continue well into 2022, if not longer. This means that hiring managers and HR professionals need to closely review their methods for attracting talent, as well as their total talent acquisition process. Retaining quality employees is also an important part of the equation. After all, recruiting and training a new hire cost several times more than retaining an existing employee.

Attracting Talent during the Great Resignation

Here are some strategies that will enable hiring companies to attract talented candidates amid the Great Resignation.

Embracing remote work

The COVID-19 pandemic completely altered the boundaries of the traditional work environment. As “work from home” became the new normal, professionals across many industries experienced a drastic change in their routines – they did not have to wake up early and suffer through long commutes to get to their workplace.

Although remote work came with some problems of its own, experts were quick to identify that for many employees it contributed to a better work-life balance. Studies also show that it can significantly increase employee engagement and productivity. Hence, hiring companies should consider adopting some form of a remote or hybrid work model to attract their perfect-fit hires.

Providing development opportunities

Business leaders and hiring managers must make sure to exhibit their interest in their employees’ personal and professional development.

Many highly qualified individuals choose to quit because they feel stagnant in their careers. Hiring companies can take advantage of the situation by investing in the growth of their workers and providing them with development and career progression opportunities. Organizations that want to see their employees learn new skills and help them achieve their goals are likely to attract large swaths of quality candidates.

Reinforcing your workplace culture

As more organizations adopt a hybrid work model, fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes innovation and growth has become more challenging. However, business leaders and HR professionals must overcome these challenges and ensure their online work culture aligns with their in-person work culture.

Showing their commitment to upholding company values can also help hiring companies find and recruit new talent.

Offering better benefits

High levels of work-related stress and anxiety often cause burnout, which eventually develops into depression. As a higher number of professionals are struggling with their mental health due to the coronavirus pandemic, hiring companies should consider offering a few perks to their new and existing employees that address their evolving needs.

For instance, along with revising their benefits, organizations must also encourage employees to seek counseling and provide them with paid time off. A better compensation package is also bound to draw the attention of active jobseekers.

Working with a recruitment firm

Last but not least, hiring managers and HR professionals should consider working with a reputable recruitment firm to fulfill their staffing needs. Executive search firms such as AEBetancourt have a structured talent acquisition process that enables hiring companies to find the best candidates for the job.

Outsourcing the hiring process is usually a good idea, as experienced firms can fast-track the hiring process by sourcing, interviewing, screening, and shortlisting potential candidates for the job opening. They can also help hiring companies create a more human-centered employee value proposition or EVP.

Retaining Talent during the Great Resignation

It is critical for business leaders and hiring managers to bridge the gap between what employees want and what their company can offer. Here are some useful tips that may come in handy.

Embracing flexibility

It typically takes far longer for an organization to find a perfect-fit hire than stopping an excellent employee from giving their two-week notice. Therefore, employers must adopt strategies to boost employee retention by giving them what they expect the most: a flexible work environment.

Top business leaders now realize that flexibility is the key to higher retention. Remote or hybrid work models and benefits that are personalized for each employee like training and development, career planning, or flexible hours, can allow employees to enjoy a better work-life balance.

Taking care of your employees

The last two years have not been easy. Therefore, large corporations and small enterprises alike should provide their teams with mental health resources and frequently commend them for their achievements. If the employees feel valued by their managers and the higher leadership, they are more likely to stay and improve their performance.

Some other ways companies can take care of their employees during these turbulent times include offering them paid time off or subsidized access to mental health support. Yet, the easiest way may be to simply be available to your employees for meaningful conversations that allow for time to discuss our lives beyond the office. This means that leaders need to pause and really listen to their employees.

Building meaningful connections

Speaking of meaningful conversations, connecting with your team members personally and professionally is a great way to boost morale and inspire employees.

Social connections can have a positive impact on productivity. In addition, companies that invest in building long-lasting and meaningful relations with their employees usually experience a low turnover rate. Solidifying this bond is even more crucial when employees are working remotely and have to rely on text, calls, and digital conferencing platforms to communicate with their supervisors and colleagues.

Ultimately attracting and retaining talent is about meaningful employee engagement. This means building a positive company culture that prospective employees will desire, and then delivering on those promises. Learn the essential components of effective employee engagement strategies by accessing this guide below. 

employee engagement strategies