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The Big Resignation

Today’s hiring environment presents some new challenges

By Karen Hawkins

You’ve probably heard of the term “The Big Resignation.” It’s affected nearly all business segments at many levels within their organizations. So, why are people leaving and how can you best retain your current employees and attract new ones?

The latest figures (Jan. 4, 2022) show that 4.5 million people voluntarily left their positions in November 2021, an all-time high according to the Department of Labor Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report. In fact, according to a study released by WalletHub in late January, Kentucky had one of the highest rates of employee resignations in the country, ranking No. 4 with a resignation rate of 3.42% over the last 12 months.

Job openings and hires remain historically high. Hiring outpaced quitting, with 6.7 million people taking new jobs in November, indicating people are leveraging the tight job market to quit and take new jobs with higher pay and better working conditions. There are roughly 65 unemployed workers for every 100 job openings, even tighter than the roughly 82 unemployed workers per 100 job openings in February 2020 before the pandemic.

The two top reasons employees are leaving? They are seeking higher compensation and remote work options.
Other reasons include:
• Employer COVID response policies (either too lax or too stringent).
• Lack of daycare or babysitting services (resulting in reduced hours or not working at all).
• Children’s remote learning, which creates the need for them to be home with their children.
• Schedule inflexibility. (Some employers offer “core hours” and some flexibility for start and stop times.)
• Remote training for new hires that is mostly virtual, making it difficult to bond with the team.
• Growth is stagnant. (Go-getters want to grow at least horizontally by increasing responsibility and input.)

How to retain current employees
Keeping your best employees who are already trained and proven to be assets is key. Some ideas for keeping “enthusiastic stayers” include:

Retention bonuses. If the person’s position is not currently eligible for an incentive bonus, consider adding this as a one-time payment or more frequent bonuses. This shows you value their longevity and contribution to the team.

Increased raises. Surveys from my clients revealed raises for 2022 are landing between 3-9%. These raises are often across the board and given to the entire staff to elevate the competitiveness of the overall pay structure.

Consider remote work at least on a hybrid basis. Most employees appear to prefer a hybrid work model of one or two days in the office and the rest remote.

Career advancement. More employees are approaching their employers and asking them to consider a higher-level title and/or pay. This should be strongly considered. A few more dollars may be worth not replacing someone who is quite valuable.

Attracting new talent
The recruiting world is very interesting: So many people are leaving their positions but the bar for their next position is set very high. They want all the things listed above. Some will concede and accept the most important conditions. Making your company an “employer of choice” is never more important!

We have noticed an unprecedented number of candidates withdrawing before the interview stage or even after an offer has been accepted. Putting your very best foot forward during all stages of the hiring process is crucial to bring in top-notch talent—at any level or position.

This starts with a succinct and attractive job ad with benefits information, pay (if you choose to disclose), and any perks that come along with working for your company. Think about adding sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses, dress-down Fridays or extra days off from work, etc. Use all social media outlets that feel appropriate for your business. Employers have to set themselves apart and give a person a reason for reviewing the ad and considering applying.

Consider surveying your current workforce and possibly new applicants. See what is important to those individuals at their level, demographic, location, etc.

Best of luck to everyone in the race to recruit the best talent. They are out there. We just have to be open-minded and think of fresh ideas to bring them to our door and stay.