Talent AcquisitionTalent Management

The Great Resignation or the Great Opportunity?

If HR leaders play their cards right, there’s much to gain during the current talent shortage.

By Priscilla Messir

By now, most HR leaders have seen the ripple effects of the global pandemic on managing the workforce. Employees in all stages of their careers are taking a long, hard look at every aspect of their lives, starting with their jobs. The mindset and priorities have shifted, causing millions of employees to leave companies and roles they aren’t happy with, looking for more meaningful and purpose-driven careers. The pandemic caused employees to ask themselves questions like:

  • Do I want to continue to work for less pay?
  • Do I want more recognition?
  • Should I have more opportunities for advancement?
  • Should I focus more on my mental health, well-being and job fulfillment?

The answer is loud and clear. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.3 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in August 2021—the highest on record since December of 2000. These staggering numbers are the reason behind the labor market phenomenon known as The Great Resignation.

The hospitality sector, food service, and retail industries were hit hardest by this employment exodus, as millions said: “I quit.” This is not the first time that dramatic events have caused a widespread shift in workforce attitudes and behaviors. In the years following the depression, workers placed a higher value on holding tight to stable, long-term jobs. Conversely, in the years surrounding the boom of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the workforce seemed more comfortable with mobility.

For whatever reason during COVID-19—whether individuals were furloughed, forced to stay home to care for children or lost their jobs—this pandemic has helped many employees realize what they were doing pre-pandemic was ultimately not as important to them as it was before.

As The Great Resignation continues, there is an obvious domino effect which is creating more job openings. More job opportunities have certainly placed job seekers comfortably in the driver’s seat. This a very powerful position that allows them to take a more discerning look at the opportunities not previously available to them until now. There’s no better time to make a long-awaited career change. Some are taking the leap into a pre-existing career path, while others—particularly some of the five million women who left the workforce in 2020—are diving into the world of entrepreneurship. Another interesting trend to note is that while industries like hospitality are suffering due to the Great Resignation, industries like healthcare and home care are in a unique position to benefit. That is, if they are proactive.

To attract and retain today’s purpose-driven candidates, it is important to layer in more “career” versus “job” attributes that clearly define personal and professional growth opportunities. Making this proactive shift will ensure roles are more attractive to post-pandemic job seekers.

Job seekers are no longer focused solely on earning a paycheck. They want to find meaning in their work, be compensated fairly, and have opportunities to grow in their career. They will only invest in a company that invests in them. Here are three attractive job characteristics companies must offer.

  1. Career paths provide a clear road map for professional and personal growth. This includes making a commitment to and investing in continuing education and support for certification completion.
  2. Benefits, such as tuition reimbursement, robust and flexible paid time off, employee assistance programs, and more, open the door for employees to find balance and support from their employers.
  3. A commitment to sustainable practices and community involvement will further solidify their purpose-driven passions.

As more and more individuals seek a meaningful paycheck, organizations need to communicate how they are providing purpose-driven, career-minded roles. For those that follow suit, The Great Resignation may soon become known as The Great Opportunity.

Priscilla Messir is chief people officer for Help at Home.

Tags: Talent Acquisition, Talent Management

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