Have you seen the video of the Walmart employee airing her grievances and quitting her job over the store intercom for all the world to hear? If you think this is an isolated incidence and a generational mindset, think again. Resignations are on the rise, with the latest U.S. Department of Labor stats from the second quarter of 2021 indicating a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs, leaving a surplus of positions and recruitment woes for employers.

Where the Great Depression and the Great Recession saw businesses downsizing and eliminating positions due to economic and global factors, the Great Resignation, as coined by Texas A&M’s Anthony Klotz, is having the opposite effect. It’s leaving businesses with a shortage of workers and a surplus of jobs that need to be filled.

The plight of hiring managers during this COVID-19 era is both in maintaining an engaged workforce while finding talent to fill open positions. Millions of Americans in a vast array of positions, levels and industries, made decisions to leave their gainful employment positions in the past year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021, leaving over 10.9 million open jobs to be filled. There are plenty of jobs and not enough qualified and interested candidates to fill them.

The question then becomes why do we have this empty pipeline and how do hiring managers and recruiting experts fill the gap?

It’s difficult to truly pinpoint the reasons, but a study conducted by The Harvard Business Review indicated of those employees who have resigned positions, many of them being in their mid-careers who “may have simply reached a breaking point after months and months of high workloads, hiring freezes, and other pressures, causing them to rethink their work and life goals.”

With the hesitancy some workers have in returning to an office setting, their family care responsibilities, school closures and remote learning environments eating into their productivity, and the ever-present health and safety concerns due to COVID-19 over the past year, employers have seen the turnover rise.

“It was a tough time to be a recruiter,” DeCoteau said, noting though that she’s seen a strong uptick in applicants where over the past six months they had been few and far between.

However, all is not lost. There are still actions within an employer’s control they can take to ensure they remain ahead of the curve with employee engagement and recruiting efforts.

While it’s never a guarantee an employer can prevent existing employees from resigning, it takes far less effort to treat existing employees right than have to replace them with new employees. “It takes six to nine months to onboard someone to be fully effective,” said Ross Seychell, chief people officer at Personio in an article by the BBC. “Companies that lose a lot of their workforce are going to struggle with this over the next 12 to 16 months, and maybe much longer. Companies that don’t invest in their people will fall behind.”

The good news is that there are steps an employer can take to avoid the Great Resignation impacts, such as:

  • Managers should remember to check in with their staff members, communicating often and regularly to get a sense of where their employees’ are at in relation to their job satisfaction.
  • Provide a safe space to listen to their employees’ concerns and check in on their well-being.
  • Offer flexibility where it can be granted.
  • Offer up praise and recognition to employees during this difficult period of time.

We’re not out of the woods just yet. A Gallop poll recently found that 48 percent of employees are actively searching for new roles and new employers. The pandemic may be out of our control, but retaining employees is something that every manager can play a part to do.

And if you are faced with either a new position or a position to backfill, it’s wise to start with the basics before posting the job opening. Ensure the job description is up-to-date and the position’s compensation structure has been evaluated to ensure you’re getting the best possible candidates for the role.

“We’re getting back to the point where we are able to be more choosey in our selection process as the pool has opened up,” said DeCoteau. “It allows us the time to vet the candidate and make better hiring decisions.”

Our HR Consultants and recruiting team are ready to help you. Whether you’re interested in establishing and implementing an Employee Engagement survey or process, or are in need of recruitment support, Contact Us for a proposal for your business’s organizational needs.