The Great Resignation: In Crisis, Opportunity

The pandemic gave people an opportunity to slow down, to think, and self-reflect. All that time spent home alone led many of us to reconsider how we are spending our livesFor a growing number of Americans, that has meant quitting their jobs in the search for something better. 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the quit rate reached a series high of 2.9% for the month of August 2021The restaurant, retail, healthcare, and tech sectors continue to sustain a heavy impact even with hiring increases in September 2021


According to the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) Business Conditions Survey for October 2021, 47% of employers struggled with labor shortages in Q3. Survey respondents believe that hiring will improve in 2022 (36%) or 2023 (14%).


Employee satisfaction matters. 


Employees who have walked away from their jobs during the pandemic, and now, during the prolonged recovery, have different reasons. Some, as we know, resigned to take care of their families. Others left because they felt unsafe at work or devalued by their employer. Then, there are people who simply wanted to make a change, with a new realization of their priorities in life. 


Data from a Pew Research Center survey reports that 23% of employees who are in the same job as before the pandemic report being dissatisfied with their work. They cite less job security and fewer advancement opportunities. 


Those in jobs that require a physical presence report varying degrees of satisfaction based on race, age, and income levels. White workers (45%), workers age 50+ (50%), and upper income workers (49%) are faring the best when it comes to feeling safe and well protected in their place of work.


Expectations are different today, as are the measures of employee satisfaction. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), employers “need to create environments and opportunities for employees to share their desires and difficulties in personalized ways, and then respond to the feedback in a way that makes the employees feel heard.” 


New expectations for 2022 and beyond.


By the end of September 2021, the number of people not in the labor force, but actively looking for work, was 6.0 million (BLS data)Wage increases and other financial incentives can help get them in the door. But, ensuring that they stay is going to take a lot more. 


Today’s workers are looking for:

  •     Opportunity to balance life and work, with flexible working hours.

  •     Option for remote work from any geographic location.

  •      Help with remote work expenses and essential office tools.

  •      Guarantee of a safe and healthy workplace if they cannot work remotely.

  •      Ability to prioritize family, including children and aging parents.

  •      Programs that support self-care and wellness, in addition to traditional benefits.

  •      Psychologically safe spaces for bringing one’s authentic self to work. 

  •      A culture of corporate responsibility, with a commitment to diversity and inclusion.



Our client organizations have likely never had to grapple with such unique circumstances before,” says Claire Marsh, CEO of Impellam Group in North America, a leading global talent acquisition and managed workforce solutions provider. “Companies are coming to us to help keep pace with aggressive business demands. We bring a view into the most efficient ways to optimize talent solutions, ensuring that they gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining the essential talent that they need.


To be or not to be … in the workplace.


The ability to continue with remote work is a dealbreaker for many employees. Blind, an anonymous online workplace community, polled its users about this very topic. One of three responded that they would quit “if work from home ends.” 


Workers with large tech companies are widely represented on Blind and took part in this poll. Results showed a projected 43% quit rate at Amazon (if WFH ends), 27% at Microsoft, 31% at Google, 21% at Facebook, and 28% at Apple.  


Approximately 70% of employees in The Pew Research Center survey who say their jobs can be done from home are indeed working remotely. The majority (56%) think it has been easy to switch to telework. One exception is younger workers aged 18-29, 53% of whom say they have a hard time staying motivated. Working parents are also challenged. Approximately half reported frequent interruptions as a problem. 


Overall, however, 54% of current remote workers want to remain in a teleworking or hybrid arrangement after the pandemic is over. 


Employers can benefit from these trends.


With more people considering job changes than ever before, employers have a unique opportunity. Now is the time to advance your staffing goals, with better understanding of what job seekers want. Action steps can include:


Analyzing your total talent model. We had to optimize agility to respond to market conditions,” says Impellam client David Lucey, VP Recruiting at Epsilon, an outcome-based marketing firm. “Being exceptionally flexible in an ever-changing talent economy is the way we have been able to grow during COVID-19 and The Great Resignation. That has meant aligning with the right talent resources and processes that allow us to staff up and down, with the right balance of permanent and contingent staff.”


Creating new talent pools. Even if you are not ready to hire right now, you can start building your pipeline and growing your candidate database. If work can be done remotely, look outside your local areaWiden your reach to attract the best talent.


Establishing hybrid workplaces. If your company is shifting to a hybrid model, be sure to update any policies and practices that are impacted by this change. Also consider investing in training for leaders that are – or will be – managing remote employees. 


Refreshing your employer brand. Already offer what post-pandemic job seekers want? Update your careers messaging with benefit-centric content that lets both current and prospective employees know that you understand – and  care about – their needs. 


Updating your candidate experience. Today’s job seekers want hassle-free virtual hiring and onboarding processes. Think interview self-scheduling, video interviews, and easy-to-use candidate portals for documentation and more. 


Meeting your diversity goalsMany people who left their jobs in low-paying industries are ready to start new entry-level careers. Others are leaving roles in IT, finance and other sectors because of return-to-office policies. What can you offer in the way of safe, inclusive, and flexible opportunities for women and people of color?


Paying attention to retention. At the end of August 2021, there were 10.44 million open jobs in the United States. Your best employees are in demand. Show them that you value their contributions and encourage their continued growth. It is much more efficient to keep your people productive and engaged rather than let them leave. In fact, according to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report, replacing a worker can cost up to two times their salary. 


In crisis, there is opportunity. 


Albert Einstein once said, “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” He also reminded us to “learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow.” Which is The Great Resignation in a nutshell. 


Workers are reclaiming their lives. Learning from yesterday that tomorrow can be better. Employers can be partners in their successWe can reimagine the future of work together. To get a complimentary total talent assessment, please contact us here.

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