The Great Resignation

It was 2020 when life stood still for most of us. We figured out how to live with the pandemic, even if it meant leaving our jobs. A professor at Texas A&M University named Anthony Klotz first recognized this trend and coined the term “The Great Resignation.

When the global pandemic started, many companies were handing out pink slips. Today, others are handing out signing bonuses—and are still having trouble hiring the right people.

Some workplace flexibility can mean reduced exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. That isn’t the only reason why so many people left their jobs and created this spike in voluntary resignations. Employees have cited various reasons for leaving their posts during the Great Resignation. They vary from searching for better flexibility for daycare, being at home with family, quality of life, or a desire for a higher salary.

A recent report from the U.S. Labor Department says that 2.9% of the entire American workforce quit their jobs in August 2021. That’s 4.3 million people leaving the office in one month. Currently, there are 11.4 million open U.S. jobs, and although we have a low unemployment rate of 4.6% (approximately 7.4 million people), few people are filling those available positions. Why?

New Work-Life Balance Challenges

During the Great Resignation, people desperately want a better work-life balance.
Source: Flickr/Business Insider

People ask so much from their employers, including flexible work options, challenging work, career advancement, competitive salaries, and collaborative cultures. The resolve is companies now must be attractive, rewarding, and engaging whether in or out of the traditional office environment.

Strategic Talent Acquisition and Human Resources (HR) teams are taking advantage of the Great Resignation. They’re focused on hiring top talent, retaining the best employees, and establishing programs to meet steep new business growth demands. There is a pressing need for HR professionals to create a diverse and agile workforce. Employees may want or need to come to an office and collaborate with others. Perhaps, they want flexibility when needed to work remotely.

For example, Beyond Finance is a nationwide consumer financial services company. We employ people in more than 30 states. Each of them supports our clients through their debt resolution journey from our offices and many home office remote locations. Creating that flexibility for our workforce during the pandemic is what our company and employees need. Today, that work is continued in one way or another.

It’s essential to be mindful of evolving needs because our colleagues are the backbone of our organization. They make our company successful and create the experience clients seek out over our competitors.

Our strategy was simple—hire a diverse workforce despite their location, pay competitive salaries, and offer rewarding work and excellent benefits. The employment landscape has changed. We aim to meet our workforce’s evolving needs and empathize with new work-life balance interests. Even in these difficult hiring times, Beyond Finance increased our client-facing staff with dramatically increased hiring. The Great Resignation has really helped skyrocket talent acquisition right when we needed it the most.

Additionally, research shows the importance of onboarding, training, and employee recognition. In this new hiring environment, we were confident in what we had to do:

  • Establish a robust onboarding program to set our employees up to be successful while supplying superior service to our clients
  • Create an extended training program for customer-facing agents available at the office or at home
  • Fill many of our managerial roles with internal promotions
  • Manage the impact of rising health care costs as much as possible. That includes offering a new 100% out-of-pocket medical expense reimbursement program.

What we’re receiving in return is high client satisfaction, improved retention, and more sustainable employee engagement. That’s the point for all talent managers out there—to come out on the positive side of this Great Resignation. You must learn what employees and candidates want.

Winning the War for Talent

The Great Resignation letter
Source: Getty Images/Forbes

Now that you are open to options during this turbulent workforce situation, it’s time to reconsider what your organization does to retain its workforce. Although 11.4 million jobs are waiting to be filled, that doesn’t mean your place has to add to the mix. Value your people and give them reasons to stay rather than leave.

Here are a few ideas that could help you navigate the Great Resignation over smoother waters.

Go Where the Talent is Located

It’s time to be proactive about hiring the best talent. Prospective employees believe the power is in their hands to select the right place for them. Find them and highlight why your work culture is the most welcoming place to them. Recruiting strategies should not be confined by office locations any longer. People are searching—and expecting—more flexibility or even the chance to work from home. As employers, we need to meet those needs to compete for the most suitable talent to build our workforce.

Listen to Your Team

How easy is that? Ask employees or read employer reviews. It seems this is one area of opportunity for many organizations. A paycheck has its value, but that isn’t everything for employees today. Before asking employees to come back, take time to listen so they don’t leave. When you hire a person, you’re hiring ideas, solutions, opinions, and expertise. Their views should affect the business. The voice of your employees could be the compass of your decisions.

Plan to Grow

Not all employees want the same thing in terms of a path. However, they are all interested in getting rewards along the way. As you listen to your team, please find out how each person describes success and what is meaningful to them. For some, it may be a trip up the corporate ladder. For others, it may be money or flexibility to work remotely. Everyone appreciates growth, but not everyone wants to grow the same. Plan on that and watch their horizons expand.

Make All Exits Beneficial

Only two months ago, an estimated 4.4 million people left their jobs. If people are going to your organization, what’s the cause? You’ll never know if you don’t ask them. Plan on exit interviews and ask for a transparent conversation about the reasons behind their departure. Listen carefully because ideas can be introduced about what other employees want. That’s your cue to get things moving and improve what may be needed by others.

Up the Competition

Even though the pay isn’t everything, it comes close. If your employees had enough money to shield themselves from other stressors, life at work might be more enjoyable. Be confident that your pay is competitive and allows employees to make a healthy living. Small investments  could be the difference between “stay” or “go.”

Create Some Fun

Who doesn’t enjoy laughing on the job or entering competitions to win something nice? Create an inviting culture. How are the perks you offer at work? Do you gamify on the intranet? Do you offer rewards for completing specific goals? Whatever would be fun, allow your employees to enjoy their time on the job. Whether they had a good day or not, those feelings go home with them.

Featured Image Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images