The world of work has emerged from the pandemic with some unprecedented, paradoxical and obvious traits — it’s almost as if we’re talking about an oxymoron of employment dynamics. People have changed the way they think, work and live during the pandemic; they have changed their priorities.
Up until two years ago, some aspects of organizations were relevant but not decisive in job decisions; today, they have new value. A few examples: having a truly compelling business objective and a high degree of social and environmental responsibility, demonstrating a commitment to take care of employees’ mental and physical health, and offering flexible working.
A Phenomenon Never Seen Before
Throughout the working world, a phenomenon called the “Great Resignation” has emerged. More than ever before, people are voluntarily leaving their jobs. In August alone, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs. While some people have left the workforce entirely, job security and better pay are top concerns for others.
The New Labor Market
What effect is this having on the labor market?
• People have been quitting their jobs in record numbers.
• There are still fewer people employed than before the pandemic.
• Companies are struggling to find labor despite an increase in job openings.
Why Are So Many Employees Making This Choice?
Perhaps adjustments are underway due to the rebound of the economy, perhaps we are facing a quantum leap in the labor market — a major reallocation from jobs in declining sectors to more productive ones — or, perhaps we are entering a new social dimension in which work is no longer perceived as a need.
We often read about cases of well-paid but burned-out employees: Even before the pandemic, many employees worked hard and earned a good living, but were exhausted and dissatisfied, seeing no viable options to change their circumstances.
In my experience, it is increasingly common to find candidates today who tell job interviewers that they are willing to work as long as the job does not interfere with their passions, hobbies and interests. Many people who quit their jobs are looking for new jobs with higher wages and more flexibility.
Where Do All These Resigned Employees Go?
The Financial Times points out that job quitting can be seen as an indicator of a healthy labor market, and even as a factor for improvement provided that the reallocation following resignation results in increased productivity.
But where do all these resigned workers go? Many can’t, or won’t, find a new job right away. There may be many reasons for this: They want to get away, change industries, take care of their families or give themselves time for their passions. In terms of those seeking new employment, a study by Indeed indicates that Americans have become much more selective in their job searches.
The New Priorities
Because many people’s priorities have changed since the pandemic, the actions of recruiters to foster talent acquisition and of HR to ensure talent retention must strategically adapt, too. According to recent research from Gartner, organizations today spend an average of $2,500 per employee per year on employee experience, and this figure is expected to increase. This investment may range from improving worker skills in order to keep up with emerging digital skills to offering pet insurance to employees.
The first step in attracting the attention of the right candidates and retaining current employees is to review your employee value proposition to make sure it is up to date and relevant.
The Work Environment
In the post-pandemic work world, we have witnessed three changes in mindset that have challenged the impact of the traditional EVP:
• Employees are people before they are workers.
• Work is just one aspect of life, not a separate area entirely.
• Employees find value in their work based on human elements, not just job benefits.
In a market where there are fewer candidates available than those wanted, HR professionals who keep an open mind and think laterally will outperform competitors. In addition, a proactive attitude with respect to constant activity to build a quality talent pipeline is essential; it’s a huge risk to be found without a potential candidate pool when it comes time to hire new employees, especially for strategic positions.
A new human-centered EVP must take into account:
• The centrality of interpersonal connections: Integrate inclusion goals into day-to-day work by focusing on benefits that meet the needs of employees and the organization, and by training managers on how to build employee trust through empathetic conversations.
• All-around flexibility: Provide flexibility to employees within the boundaries established with their teams, determining which activities within a role can be flexible and identifying manager-verified flexibility solutions.
• Personal growth for employees: Provide professional career coaches and peer coaching to foster development that meets employees’ personal needs and aspirations.
• Widespread holistic wellness: Identify internal ambassadors and clearly define how managers can support employee wellness.
• Shared purpose and values: Give attention and space to action on social issues and prioritize social issues aligned with the organization’s goals.
What if the Great Resignation is a great opportunity for your company? This is what HR experts have been wondering all over the world. Undoubtedly, this is a historic time that has been upsetting for the job market. However, it is also an opportunity for companies and for the employees who remain in their current jobs. Will this be a chance for those who have been cornered for a long time? We will find out soon.