August 25, 2022 – More than 47 million Americans quit their jobs last year, the highest number of resignations on record, and there was still recently a record 11.5 million job openings. As labor shortages continue, this year could go down as a “pit of despair for employers,” said one senior economist. “It’s not all bad news, though,” said Molly Brennan in a new report from Diversified Search Group | Koya Partners. “Data shows that most people aren’t exiting the workforce completely. Instead, they’re leveraging a strong job market to pursue more attractive opportunities, being more selective about the jobs they take and the organizations they represent.”
Ms. Brennan offers seven critical actions to help recruitment and retention efforts:
1. Realize it’s not just about money.
Compensation is not the only factor causing employees to stay or leave, according to Ms. Brennan. “Competitive, equitable salaries are a good starting point but are not enough to differentiate your organization from the many others vying for top talent,” she said. “Offer opportunities for training and advancement. Create a collaborative culture. Advocate for meaningful issues. Drive positive change. Providing more than just a good salary will help you retain employees and attract talented prospects.”
2. Ask what employees want – and then give it to them.
Ms. Brennan notes to conduct employee surveys and conversations with your teams to determine their needs and wants. Listen to what’s most important to them, such as remote days, flexible schedules or better health insurance. “Also, consider your organization’s performance expectations,” she says. “Pre-pandemic, many managers had unrealistic expectations about employee output, productivity, and availability. Employees felt like they had to work constantly — to an unhealthy extent — which led to burnout. Recalibrate these expectations in our post-COVID world, where people may be unwilling to go back to that ‘grind’ mentality. By meeting employees’ expectations, you’ll differentiate yourself from the competition to keep and attract top talent.”
3. Prioritize employees’ physical and mental health.
The pandemic amplified the need to prioritize health and wellness. Today’s employees are no longer interested in working to the point of exhaustion, pushing through illness, denying their anxiety, or working for unbearable bosses, according to Ms. Brennan. “Employers need to be flexible and show compassion,” she said. “Give employees grace if they’re unable to physically get into work because of a sick child. Allow them to take mental health days if they’re grappling with depression. Prioritize employees’ health and wellness to help increase their happiness, satisfaction, safety, and engagement.”
4. Foster a culture of belonging, inclusion and collaboration.
Employees care about relationships, connectivity and belonging, so Ms. Brennan says you should ensure that your organization facilitates connection and inclusion. Encourage a collaborative — not competitive — environment. She says to consider how you pool resources, celebrate wins, and meet the diverse needs of all employees. Employees are hungry for connections and relationships, wanting to feel like an important, valued part of the organization.
5. Emphasize your organization’s values.
What do you value and support as an organization? How do you drive positive change? It’s essential to connect social causes, diversity, inclusion, and sustainability to your recruitment and retention efforts, according to Ms. Brennan. “People want to work for organizations that are committed to a greater good,” she said. “Be outspoken about what you believe in and how you’re making a positive difference. Employees and candidates care about more than just earning a paycheck, wanting to align with their workplace’s mission, beliefs and values.”
If you’re thinking about joining the Great Resignation and quitting your job, you’re in good company. Resignations are at a 20-year high, and depending on what study you’re reading, one-third to one-half of all U.S. workers are considering leaving their jobs right now. This record number of resignations is fueled by a range of factors, from the understanding that better pay and opportunities may be readily available, to a desire to work for an organization that is more values-aligned, to the desire to have more flexibility about when and where work is done.
“Burnout is also a significant factor that’s driving employees to seek other opportunities,” said Molly Brennan in a new report from Diversified Search Group | Koya Partners. “If you recognize yourself in any of these factors and are considering taking action, you’re likely to find yourself in a good position. The number of open opportunities has created stiff competition for talent, driving up salaries and giving candidates an advantage when it comes to negotiations.”
6. Prioritize and incentivize advancement opportunities.
Provide ongoing training, education and advancement programs to keep employees engaged and inspired. Ms. Brennan notes to pair junior-level employees with more senior-level mentors. Have managers lead workshops about compelling topics. Empower employees to take on new projects and then give them the tools and support they need to maximize successes. “Motivate your employees and encourage them to keep learning and growing at your organization — so they don’t seek growth opportunities elsewhere,” she said.
7. Express sincere gratitude.
Ms. Brennan explains that one of the most important things you can do to boost employee happiness, satisfaction, loyalty, and retention is acknowledge and thank employees for their exceptional contributions. “Recognize hard workers,” she said. “Give financial bonuses or gift cards. Send handwritten notes about specific things you admire about your team members. Make employees feel valued, respected, and appreciated, and they’ll be loyal to your organization.”
“In the current environment, employees are more in the driver’s seat than ever before with many job options to choose from,” said Ms. Brennan. “Provide a happy, healthy, engaging place to work, and you’ll successfully attract and retain great talent.”
Ms. Brennan joined Koya in its early years and has worked in close partnership with founder and CEO Katie Bouton to grow the firm over the last decade. In addition to leading senior-level searches, she also oversees search operations, marketing, and communications. Ms. Brennan has partnered with boards of directors and senior leaders to identify and place exceptional leaders for a range of clients, including Amnesty International USA, Habitat for Humanity, Sierra Club, Slow Food USA, and Natural Resources Defense Council.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media