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Don’t Bank on a Looming Recession to Halt “The Great Resignation”

According to the Pew Research Center, November 2021 had the highest “quit rate” recorded in 20 years - and it isn't showing any signs of slowing down. 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in May 2022, according to a recent data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, if you were banking on a potential recession cooling the job market, it’s time to rethink your hiring and retention strategies. Very few businesses have actually stopped hiring (Business Insider reported 11.3 million job openings at the end of May), and job seekers aren’t willing to compromise on their needs, especially in such a hot labor market.

So why aren’t employees hunkering down and staying put?

“The unfortunate reality is that we've seen workers treated poorly for quite some time," says Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed Hiring Lab.

This Pew Research Center survey shows that workers who quit a job in 2021 did so due to “low pay, no opportunities for advancement, [and] feeling disrespected”. Additional major reasons workers cited for quitting a job included childcare issues, lack of flexible hours, and poor benefits. Pew also found that most of the people who switched jobs saw improvements in pay, advancement opportunities, work/life balance, and flexibility. This report does include a notable exception “when it comes to balancing work and family responsibilities: Six-in-ten men say their current job makes it easier for them to balance work and family – higher than the share of women who say the same (48%) ”; parental support, especially for women, still has a long way to go in many cases.

What can you do to ensure your employees stay?

Look at the data. Top reasons cited for leaving jobs include low pay, no advancement opportunities, feeling disrespected at work, and a lack of flexibility in work hours. Do any of those sound like your company?

You can use resources like Glassdoor to check average salary rates for various positions – are your pay bands in line with market rates and demand? If not, it’s time to adjust.

Is there a clear path upward in your organization? Do you have mentorship or sponsorship opportunities in place for your employees? People who feel like they have stagnated in a job or in a company are more likely to leave for other opportunities.

Is your organization more rigid or flexible? COVID-19 showed everyone that a ton of jobs can be done more effectively from home than in the office, and your employees haven’t forgotten this. If you are requiring a

rigid work schedule (on site Monday – Friday, 8am-5pm), have you asked yourself why? Is it because your employees absolutely need to be on site and working those specific hours (e.g. they're in a role in manufacturing, or are doing clinical work with patients) ? Or is it because that’s what management is used to and what they were taught was the “right” way to work? Your employees will know the difference.

Research has shown that employees are, on average, putting in more hours when they’re working remotely versus in the office (Guardian) . If productivity isn’t decreasing with remote work and flexible hours, consider making remote / flex work a permanent option for employees.

What is your company culture like? Do your company values include diversity, inclusion, respect, and/or the like? Do you address micro- and macro-aggressions in the workplace? Have your managers undergone sensitivity or conflict-resolution training?

A company's culture reflects its core values. If a business truly cares about equality, it will be reflected in its practices and expected from every single employee, and not just discussed in press releases. diversity should be something that everyone welcomes as a way to strengthen the company and create a more dynamic, vibrant workplace. Education and diversity training can help employees see the benefits of an inclusive workplace. Implementing a mentoring program is another excellent way to build a collaborative culture and provide individuals from more disadvantaged backgrounds with the support they may need to overcome obstacles.

Every company has a culture, whether or not they actively seek to influence it. Increasing openness to and support of diversity and inclusion strategies is just one benefit of a healthy company culture. When companies actively seek to cultivate an encouraging, flexible, and accepting environment for their employees, they provide their employees with a better work experience and increase collaboration, innovation, and productivity.

Another thing Forbes recommends for avoiding resignation? Looking at teamwork and team cohesion. An article recently published in Long Range Planning clearly shows that fractured or disconnected management teams directly contributes to higher turnover and workplace toxicity. To address divided top management teams, Forbes recommends first identifying the problem and then implementing “targeted interventions” for the entire management team and/or the company CEO. These “interventions” can take the form of coaching (individual or team-based), targeted training on interpersonal skills, group work, and awareness, as well as implementing a culture of openness around discussing team dynamics and potential problems.

The bottom line:

One thing is for certain: the great resignation is showing no signs of slowing down and the responsibility for attracting and retaining talent falls on the organizations, not the candidates. Addressing workplace policies and benefits, internal company culture, and management cohesion, along with reviewing and adjusting pay rates to match the market, are some of the best ways to keep your employees.

Not sure how to implement these policy changes?

That’s where Level comes in – we are a full-service workforce partner helping organizations of all sizes create more diverse, inclusive, and successful workplaces. Call us today to see how we can help! 614-429-7858.

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