The Great Resignation: Becoming an Employer of Choice

November 29, 2021

Becoming an Employer of Choice During the Great Resignation

Much has been written about the “Great Resignation.” It’s a favorite topic in the news media. A Google search produces thousands of articles written on the topic. There are many questions and theories on what is driving people to leave their jobs and even their professions. Is the trend driven by parents needing to care for their children during COVID-19 lockdowns?  A general trend of burnout? Low and stagnant wages? A country that has become hostile to immigration both legal and illegal or a lack of training programs?

The answer is likely “all of the above.” Employers need to be aware of all the potential reasons their employees might move on and develop policies that accommodate their employees needs. The pandemic opened a door into the psyche of the workforce. There was a collective realization that our work is important to our well-being, but needs to be balanced with the rest of our lives.

Nothing demonstrated this more than the flexibility gained with work-from-home. Some employees were able to attend to other things in their life. There was greater efficiency opening up time for family, hobbies, and community. WFH didn’t work as well for working parents however. Some were frustrated and others realized what they were missing by not being there for their kids at a critical time in their children’s development.

What does this mean for employers and their employees? What feels certain is it is still a delicate time to make sweeping changes to the current approach. Let’s explore some things we are hearing from the talent market and how some employers are handling this critical transition.

WFH, Hybrid, In Office Required. What’s the best strategy?
Coming in strong with a “must be in the office” approach is not being well received by the talent pool. In the professional services and start-up spaces, organizations requiring any time in the office quickly lose interest from a significant pool of candidates. This is a non-starter for so many. The underlying message from employers to prospective candidates with this requirement is “we want to control your time again”. Even if this isn’t true, the approach feels tone deaf to the talent pool needs at this moment in time. Additionally, with the pandemic still raging, it doesn’t feel safe.

An optional hybrid approach is the most welcome strategy. Candidates like the option of using an office at some point in the future; when the pandemic is under control and there are valid business reasons for in-person work. A fully distributed, no-office model is less interesting. Employees do want a work community and this approach takes that away.

Working Moms
The burdens of parenting during the pandemic were not equally shared by men and women. Moms with young children suffered greatly during the pandemic. The weight of juggling work, school, and household responsibilities became too much for so many working moms. Anything employers can do to alleviate these pressures during these limited child-rearing years would be well-received by the talent pool. Consider adding schedule flexibility, tutoring assistance, a company concierge, subsidized Uber Eats or grocery delivery, child care support, or significant parental leave. Any of these family perks added to the benefits package would instantly and significantly elevate the employer brand with this demographic.

New and Young Employees
The downside of work-from-home and hybrid models can be felt when onboarding new employees. New additions often need mentoring, benefitting from serendipitous conversations and collaborations that come from working together in an office environment. The optional hybrid approach gives these new employees a choice to be in the office, but doesn’t ensure they get access to colleagues who might be important to their growth and development. Development of new employees will require developing systems and regular check-ins to ensure this critical development occurs. This is often cited as a core rationale for a required-in-office approach, but it can be overcome with planning. Young employees seem to be uniquely aware of the pitfalls of a lack of work/life balance. Balancing these two needs is delicate.

Growth and Opportunity
Employers who are growing, winning new business, and have a corner on their market are attractive to the talent pool. Employers who tell their growth story well and are attuned to the personal and time needs of their employees providing a mix of flexible work options coupled with productivity perks will become employers of choice in this talent-driven economy.

Trust and Tradition
Much of what needs to happen to attract and retain talent is common sense, but flies in the face of traditional employment practices. Traditional office requirements were often rooted in a place of mistrust, put in place before collaborative business technology was available. The pandemic has proven that the mistrust was misplaced. Professional and creative services can still be delivered at a high level leveraging these technologies, and employees are as engaged working from home as they were before we were forced to innovate our daily practices.

That said, collaboration can feel more productive in person. Pair that with pandemic fatigue, some are driving an “in-office-required” approach. The open question of this moment is, “Are those collaborative gains worth it if you can’t staff your teams?”

Drop me a line to let me know what you think.

Cory Salmela - LinkedIn - Txt

The Guardian - Part of the ‘great resignation’ is actually just mothers forced to leave their jobs - The Pandemic Is Taking An Enormous Toll On Working Moms—But Here's How Employers Can Help With Gender Equity

Photo by Romain V on Unsplash

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