The Great Awakening to the Great Resignation

by Tim Plamondon

Help Wanted Great Awakening

There's a Brazilian Proverb that says, "When we dream alone, we only dream. When we dream together, reality begins." The great resignation has created a two-fold problem. The first problem is that employees have realized that they're dreaming alone and quitting. The second problem, employers need to hire new employees while retaining current employees. Many HR leaders are looking at this complex problem as the great awakening.

These leaders have had a great awakening to the great resignation. This post explores that great awakening shows how to put those revelations into action and the role of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) in helping companies with their action plans.

The Great Awakening to the Great Resignation

At a recent HR Leaders podcast Stéphane Charbonnier, Chief HR Officer at L'Oreal, called the great resignation the great awakening.

After the dust cleared from the global pandemic, business and HR leaders awoke to nearly 5 million workers quitting their jobs. Ian Cook and his team at Visier looked into which demographic ignited the great resignation. So his team studied over nine million employee records at over 4,000 companies.

Cook's team found that workers between 30 and 45 years old had the most significant resignation rates. His research showed that amongst this group of workers, between 2020 and 2021, the average rate of quitting increased 20 percent.

Revelations of the Great Awakening

HR leaders are waking up to remarkable insights into the great resignation.

With the advent of remote and hybrid work, employees care less about where they work and how they work. David Urlich, Co-founder & Principal at the RBL Group, said that employees care more about the why of their work and what they're working on.

"They want to work for an organization that has a sense of alignment with their own purpose in life," Charbonnier said. "You know, aligning a personal purpose with the company's purpose."

Chester Elton, Partner at The Culture Works and Author of Anxiety at Work, said that younger employees are asking themselves important questions about potential work opportunities. He said, "They want to know ‘how is that widget impacting the world? How am I growing and developing? How do I fit in all of that?’ "

Business and HR leaders are also waking up to the impact of their employees leaving.

The Impact of the Great Resignation

With so many employees quitting their jobs, the employees who stay have to pick up the slack. And while employers struggle to backfill positions, current employees work extra hours to complete the tasks of the employees who left. Everyone is in scramble mode.

Employees are working harder to complete their work, plus the work left behind. Recruiters, HR, and hiring managers now work long hours to fill roles. All this racing around is not productive. And is not healthy for the employees and the folks trying to right the ship.

The impact of the great awakening is yet to come. Business leaders have a two-fold problem. They need to fill empty roles and keep current employees.

Suggested content: The New Old War for Top Talent

Turning the Great Awakening into Action

It might seem trite to say, but companies waking up and seeing that their ship is sinking is the easy part. The challenge is putting those dire revelations into action. Here are four things company leaders can do to use the great awakening to slow attrition and attract talent.

1) Ask Candidates and Employees What They Need

HR leader Melissa Salibi, Chief HR Officer at Kempinski Hotels, advised to keep it simple. She recommended employers simply ask candidates and employees what they need.

The purpose of asking is "stepping out there and saying, ‘what should we stop, start, or continue? And tell us frankly, what can we do to be better,’ " she said. She said that the important thing to remember is that companies need to discover what potential and current employees need. And then build their strategy around them.

As a result, she said that such a strategy would show what your employer brand says about your company. And will show people that you care and that candidates can trust you as a company.

2) Pay Attention and Respect Your Employees

Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer point out that business leaders need to be intentional to keep current employees. Employers need to listen to their employees actively.

Charbonnier said that when company leaders listen to their employees, they know the company cares about them. And when employees know their employer cares about them, they'll trust the company. And that level of trust will energize them to do better work.

When employees trust their company, they'll share their positive experiences with others. As a result, that positive employee experience will attract new talent.

Cohen and Roeske-Zummer suggest asking your current employees for help. They believe that companies who ask their employees for help create better outcomes.

3) Let Employees Go

It's alright for employees to leave. Roeske-Zummer said during the podcast HBR IdeaCast, "Organizations don't hire people forever anymore." She believes that companies need to rethink how long an employee stays. Companies need to understand that they might be one stop of many for an employee.

Cohen and Roeske-Zummer think that companies should treat an employee leaving with gratitude for the employee's contribution.

Showing gratitude towards a departing employee will help keep current employees. Appreciating the job, the resigning employee did show current employees you care.

Letting the departing employee know you are grateful for their work also opens the door to re-hire them. Salibi loves to re-hire employees who have left. She enjoys it because re-hiring former employees are the best to hire. To her, these employees show the best commitment to the company's culture.

Charbonnier said that many employees who leave L'Oreal come back to the company. And when they return, they’re able to contribute more to the company. He looks at an employee leaving as an opportunity to grow and gain new experiences.

4) Re-Recruit Your Existing Employees

Cohen and Roeske-Zummer recommend that employers re-recruit their current workforce. They mean sitting down and talking with individual employees. The effects of doing that include:

  • Knowing the motivations and ambitions of your employees: Understanding what drives your employees helps you see where within the company the employee will flourish

  • Show your employees their positive effect on the company: This helps you attest to their contributions and explain why their work matters. Letting them know that you're grateful for them sticking it out in difficult times shows them that they're making a difference.

  • Start an ongoing conversation: Having these conversations shouldn't be one-off happenings. Managers and leaders can’t assume everything is alright with one meeting. Cohen and Roeske-Zummer recommend that leaders check in on their team members regularly.

What is the Role of RPO

RPO providers can help TA and HR leaders put their great awakening into action. RPO providers can help you tool up a hiring strategy focused on the needs of potential and current employees.

As leaders in sourcing, RPO providers know the subtle nuances of finding candidates in the most unlikely places.

RPO providers are agile in their recruitment process. They can handle high-volume hiring without skipping a beat. And quickly pump the breaks when it's time to slow down.

Leaders in sourcing, RPO providers can help companies face the changes the great resignation brings, hire the needed talent, and keep current talent.

In Conclusion

​​The great resignation awakened many employers and HR leaders to get in better tune with their employees. Asking candidates and employees what they need will go a long way in creating a new reality. And showing the new and old workforce that you care about them will slow down attrition and amp up the attraction. Working with a strategic partner like an RPO can help companies put their revelations into practical action.

To learn more about the scalability and effectiveness of RPOs, please visit our RPO Academy for free resources.

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