The COVID-19 pandemic has not only permanently changed how people work, but also how people view their work. As companies grapple with employees returning to work—and what that looks like—millions of people are rethinking their work situations and leaving their jobs, giving rise to what’s been tagged as the Great Resignation. This exodus is real. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that in April, May, and June 2021 alone, 11.5 million workers quit their jobs.
We’re firmly in an employee’s market. In this challenging climate, recruitment and retention strategies must accommodate the ways that work has changed forever and, most importantly, consider the new wants and expectations of both prospective and existing employees.
Here are five actions companies can take to bolster recruitment and retention efforts and defeat the Great Resignation.
The desire for flexibility is the top reason employees are leaving their jobs. Companies that don’t genuinely support remote working risk turning away legions of prospective candidates and losing valuable talent to companies that do.
Instead of making your “back to work” start date a continually moving target (frustrating employees), embrace remote working where it makes sense throughout your organization. Shore up your hybrid workplace plan with clearly defined guidelines, resources in place to help employees upon return, and top-down support and commitment to succeeding in your new hybrid workplace.
Start by evaluating your systems for inefficiencies or potential barriers to attracting talent. For instance, is your online application easy to complete? Are people abandoning it during the application process? Is your application inclusive to everyone or does it contain fields that could raise flags of potential bias? More and more candidates are putting a company’s inclusion and diversity practices high on their list of employer criteria.
Look for ways to consolidate your interview process so you can get back to candidates faster and ultimately, reduce employee turnover. Start by eliminating bloated and unnecessary steps.
Seize the benefits of technology. Seek AI-driven software that helps make recruiters’ jobs easier and faster by automating manually intensive tasks such as screening resumes and shortlisting candidates. Streamline and improve your candidate matching and engagement process with software that can automatically match applicant resumes against open jobs and alerting the right teams; refer talent and insert them into your hiring workflow; suggest the top qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds; and a whole lot more.
Doubling down on your employee referral programs will help you vet and hire quality candidates faster. Make it as easy as possible for your employees to recommend folks in their network to open jobs. Consider offering incentives, especially for positions that are more challenging to fill, to increase engagement with your referral program.
Also, make virtual interviews standard in your recruitment process. For jobs that can be done remotely, don’t insist on in-person interviews. Making people travel when it’s not necessary not only belies a remote-friendly culture, but also jeopardizes your ability to land top talent.
Gen Z, people aged 18 to 24, are leading the pack of workers quitting their jobs, followed by Millennials. They rank work-life balance and company culture and values quite high in their employer decision-making process.
Gen Zers expect meaning and purpose at work, along with benefits that support their wellbeing, make their lives easier, and facilitate the ability to add meaning to their lives. For instance, they desire the freedom to never miss a child’s school play and the flexibility to focus on caring for an elderly parent.
Many employers are feeling the pressure to raise wages and offer bonuses to retain their top talent. Among the benefits to consider: flexible hours, a robust healthcare package, employer-matching retirement accounts, childcare benefits, eldercare options, student loan assistance, unlimited or expanded PTO.
People need to know that you’re willing to invest in their future. Develop clear and realistic career paths. Remove obstacles that make it difficult for people to see their growth path or move up the ladder if they want to. Provide leadership development. Don’t hinder learning on company time.
In addition, help employees see new opportunities internally. The challenges, excitement of opening new doors, and career growth they seek may be within their own organization.
People want to belong in a company that values connection. Authentic, accessible communication is key. Job candidates today expect recruiters to be forthright in their communication about the state of the company, its culture, and workplace practices during and after the pandemic.
Employees want to connect with their peers and develop friendships at work. Indeed, these can be strong incentives to keep people from leaving. Even more importantly, employees need to feel a positive connection with company leadership and their direct supervisors.
Companies must provide mechanisms for leadership to communicate with employees on an authentic, human level. Managers and supervisors need to be accessible. Remember that open communication should work top down and bottom up. Periodically ask employees if they feel connected and engaged with their team and the company’s mission. Gauging their job satisfaction and taking decisive action to improve areas of dissatisfaction can go a long way toward dissuading employees from leaving.
In the Great Resignation of 2021, it’s vital for companies to reevaluate and adjust their recruitment and talent acquisition practices to fit the realities of an employee’s market and workplace forever changed by the pandemic.