The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than 4.5 million workers quit their jobs last November—that’s the highest rate in two decades of tracking. In October, 4.1 million workers quit, on top of 4.4 million in September and 4.3 million in August. You get the picture: People are leaving their jobs in droves.
Some experts predict the massive wave of resignations in the United States is likely to last for several more months. The force behind it is what I’ve called the Great Reevaluation. Simply put: The pandemic has spurred many workers to reflect deeply on how and why they work, and as the data show, this mass reevaluation has led to literally millions of employees deciding they aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.
With roughly 11 million open jobs and revenue growth accelerating for many businesses, professionals are confident that now is an ideal time to make a change. In many cases, that gamble will likely pay out.
A Constant Struggle to Plug Talent Gaps
A large number of job seekers would be good news for hiring managers if it weren’t for the intense competition it’s created among companies looking for the same people. The result is many organizations struggling to bring on skilled talent.
This competition also raises job seekers’ expectations for compensation, benefits and perks, leading them to take their time to explore multiple opportunities and hold out for their ideal offer — another slowdown for the recruitment process. For many professionals, the promise of a long-term remote or hybrid work arrangement is the real brass ring, which goes hand in hand with the opportunity to live in an area with a lower cost of living. In a recent study by Coldwell Banker, 41% of employed Americans surveyed said they’re willing to take a new job with a lower salary if they could make such a move.
On top of all that, the pandemic experience has prompted many professionals to leave the workforce to enter early retirement, taking all their hard-to-replace skills, institutional knowledge and leadership abilities with them. Pew Research reports that in the third quarter of 2021, more than half of U.S. adults 55 and older were out of the workforce due to retirement.
And there’s yet another dynamic intensifying the hiring struggle for many companies: Because they’re in a constant scramble to plug both long-standing and emerging gaps in their workforce, employers can’t put adequate attention toward other important efforts, such as talent retention. This is a grave omission in the middle of a revolution in workers’ overall expectations of companies.
A Picture That’s Clear and Compelling, If Not Complete
If your organization is experiencing some of these issues, you’re likely facing a human capital crisis that’s difficult to remedy. What’s the solution? Calling all hands on deck in your organization to help troubleshoot this crisis is one.
Think about it: You’ve relied heavily on your team to help the business manage through all the disruption and change the pandemic has brought so far. This gives you an advantage in knowing which employees are the most intellectually strong, emotionally intelligent and, importantly, most capable of executing under pressure.
Piecing together the human capital puzzle means addressing the staffing gaps that are undermining your organization’s ability to be agile and resilient and to grow and innovate. While you may not have everything (i.e., everyone) you need to build your ideal teams, it’s likely you have most of the key pieces to build a solid framework — and plug a good number of the most critical holes. Those pieces are the top talent in your organization, who you’ve likely relied on most over the past two years. Here are three ways they can help solve your human capital puzzle:
- Give top talent more responsibilities. An approach many leading employers are using to compensate for staffing challenges it to divide the job responsibilities of open roles among their existing employees. This doesn’t mean dumping more work on staff. It’s the thoughtful placement and reshuffling of more or different duties in the hands of capable team members who — and this is crucial — are interested in taking on that work. Since increased competition for top talent is driving up salaries, you may also need to boost compensation for these employees to keep them on your team.
- Embrace upskilling and reskilling opportunities. Professional development opportunities like providing employees a way to grow their competency in their current roles or equipping them with new skills that will allow them to take on a new position in the company are cost-effective approaches to growing talent from within. They can also keep your employees engaged and motivated, which improves retention — and helps prevent the emergence of more talent gaps. Your employees are likely to feel especially valued if you explain how their willingness to step up has a direct impact on the company’s success.
- Consider giving early promotions. The upside of operating leanly during the pandemic is that employers now have a clearer view of the untapped leadership potential across their workforce. Think about the team members who have excelled in keeping the business moving forward during the crisis, especially those individuals who have surprised you with their ability to execute. Reward these potential leaders by positioning them for an early promotion. And if they still need a bit more leadership development first, don’t waste a moment in arranging it.
There is a quote widely attributed to Teddy Roosevelt that perfectly sums up the situation for employers in this extraordinary time: “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.” More than likely, you have more resources at your disposal than you may realize. Your challenge is to maximize those valuable resources until you can acquire more. In some cases, you may find you already have everything you need, but even if not, you’ll be able to focus on both long- and short-term goals for your business.
Source: Paul McDonald via Forbes.com