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Why the 2021 Great Resignation is Not a Surprise

3 Tips to Increasing Employee Engagement & Performance in the Midst of the Great Resignation

Written by HRCap, Inc.

July 29, 2021

In 2020, the majority of recruiting cases at HRCap were "newly created positions" across our client companies. These global organizations recognized the importance of investing in critical skills and hired actively to stay in business, be relevant, and become competitive. In 2021, we have received overwhelming requests for "replacement positions" at these same client companies given increasing employee resignations from disengagement or dismissals/terminations from poor performance.

On Google Trends, the words “salary negotiate” and “how to resign” received scores of nearly 100 in April 2021. The charts below measure interest over time, with a value of 100 as the peak popularity for the search term on Google. “Salary negotiate” (score of 100) and “how to resign” (score of 98) peaked at popularity in April 2021, with COVID-19 numbers declining and vaccinations underway. In April 2021, the Labor Department also reported a record 4 million Americans quitting their jobs.

Google Trends for keywords "salary negotiate" and "how to resign"
Google Trends for keywords "salary negotiate" and "how to resign"*

These findings suggest that employees have been contemplating their next career move since April, and now the inevitable “Great Resignation” wave is in full force. Gallup has dubbed the “Great Resignation” the “Great Discontent” as more workers have quit due to disengagement from their jobs.

In fact, the pandemic proved that employees expected different work arrangements while companies wanted the "new business" to simply stay “business as usual” post pandemic.

Employers had to quickly adapt to using Zoom and other online communication tools to stay productive while working remotely. Many employees were able to get their jobs done in a remote and hybrid model, without sacrificing their overall productivity. The December 2020 study by Pew Research Center indicates that 71% of employees believe that they could do their jobs remotely while staying productive.

In our work with clients during this time, we find a larger supply of empty positions to fill than workers available. This is more apparent in positions that require greater technical skill, such as software engineering or product management, two critical job functions that we see companies facing shortages in retaining talented employees. We continue to stress that adaptation in leadership is crucial during this time, as low employee engagement results in lost productivity, which means affecting the bottom line.

Read on more about our report on hiring strategies for 2021 technology trends.

As we speak with our clients looking to recruit for such positions in which employees have resigned, we advise the following 3 ways they can consider in order to retain top talent during this time.

1) Consider long term benefits to hybrid/remote workplace

The short-term benefit to employers is consideration of saving expenses when it comes to space. However, the long-term benefit is employee retention. Many workers are now able to travel less, or even remove their daily commutes entirely. Studies have shown that commuting is stressful and often a reason for employees quitting their jobs. If employee retention is key, taking into consideration the employees' job tasks and their ability to be productive at home is a solution to begin implementing a positive change. LinkedIn recently announced its plans to allow teams to decide remote and hybrid work arrangements.

2) Engage your employees in a dialogue before they leave

The decision to resign is rarely an impulsive move by an employee. This is even more true as employees attempt to juggle family and work in the midst of loosening pandemic restrictions. The best way for employers to retain talent is by listening -- whether by gathering data via surveys, or receiving direct feedback from employees. The issue could most likely a relational problem; the employee may be having a conflict with their manager, or is looking to change career paths. Employers should consider these insights when hiring for future positions.

3) Get stakeholder buy in for the HR teams to design an employee wellness program

Mental health is now an important facet of the workplace. Big companies such as Bank of America, Starbucks, and BP are all implementing programs that consider and aim to improve the mental health of employees. Such wellness programs can benefit both employees and employers by:

  • Reducing absenteeism.

  • Achieving higher productivity.

  • Reducing workplace injuries and disability-related costs.

  • Raising employee morale/loyalty.

  • Improving team relationships.

  • Increasing employee retention.

We understand that our purpose here at HRCap is not merely to place candidates in their jobs at our client organizations, but to partner and bring about long-term growth for our clients as a force for sustainable corporate culture change and positive social impact.

Going forward, we hope to influence top down changes that prevent employee turnover through our consultation with client executives and leaders. We urge employers to consider workplace culture as a focal point in all their HR efforts.

Source: HRCap, Inc., CNBC, Google Trends, Pew Research, Scientific American, Gallup, LinkedIn, SHRM

*Google trends data as of July 28,2021


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