“It’s never been harder to hire and retain the right people,” Holly Novak, Chief People Officer at Jack Henry, recently said about the “Great Resignation.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record number of people voluntarily left their jobs in 2021, and the 11.3 million job openings in February 2022 remained near all-time highs.
Novak cited five “Rs” from a recent Harvard Business Review article as contributing factors to today’s labor market and the great resignation in 2022.
In 2021, workers retired at an accelerated rate and at younger ages — driven by surging stock markets and buoyant residential property values. A significant older cohort also left because of their greater susceptibility to serious COVID-19 health risks.
People are not moving for jobs at the same pace as in the past. In fact, the overall movement rate in 2021 was the lowest on record in more than 70 years.
People are reconsidering the role of work in their lives. That shift is likely to have motivated some workers to quit, especially those who were burning out in demanding jobs that interfered with their ability to care for their families. Women have been affected more than men, and younger age groups more than older ones.
There is evidence that many are “reshuffling” — that is, moving among different jobs in the same sector.
Fear of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace has made many workers reluctant to return to the office.
So how can employers best manage this unprecedented situation?
According to Novak, companies need to understand how to make their work environments a differentiator if they truly want to learn how to combat the great resignation in 2022. It starts with the candidate's experience. Can you reduce the number of interviews for candidates? Are you maintaining constant communication with your top candidates?
Once you’ve decided to make an offer, act quickly, Novak stressed. Of candidates who accepted a job offer in 2021, about half had at least two other offers to consider at the same time, according to a 2021 Gartner Candidate Panel Survey.
“Time kills in the interview process,” Novak said. “If you are 85% sure that a person can do the job and do it well, hire them.”
Novak said companies should consider multiple talent streams when seeking to fill a role. That can include hiring from internship and apprenticeship programs or bringing back retirees for short-term assignments. Another great talent source is retraining employees whose jobs are at risk in other areas.
“Take a look at your declining roles, and then re-engineer those and find some paths for your internal employees to develop into,” Novak said. “In many cases, people require additional education, job experience, and a few years of development to succeed — but the results are astounding, and this type of program builds employee engagement, brand, and a strong culture of growth.”
Novak emphasized that employers must shift their focus to “how” teams work more than “where” they work. They should put guidelines in place and clearly define expectations for how employees work. Leaders may need training on managing employees they rarely see in person, and it’s critical that they lead with compassion, understanding, and flexibility.
The work environment, she added, should focus on the employee. More than ever, workers are looking for companies that focus on trust, transparency, inclusion, and caring. And they want to work for companies that truly listen – and act on their feedback.
“Employees want a feeling of purpose from their employer,” Novak concluded. “They want to feel like they belong and are treated fairly.”
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