Why Has Recruiting and Retaining Employees Become So Hard?

They call it the great resignation – the mass turnover of talent around the world as people search for pastures new. Back in 2020, few of us would have predicted that 20 months of hybrid working would cause so many people to make a career move – and yet, it makes a lot of sense.

The pandemic temporarily stripped our working lives down to their very essence – disconnected from the people, routines and physical spaces that characterised our days and forced us to look at our jobs barefaced. For many, this was an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on our lives – including what we want and need from work. Some may have discovered a desire to relocate, to spend more time with family, to preserve their wellbeing, to change their working hours, or even change their role. But while employees have been taking charge of their careers and giving work a more positive space in their lives, employers have been struggling with the drain of talent and loss of continuity caused by mass departures.

In a recent article for the MIT Sloan Review, HSM Advisory CEO and Founder, Lynda Gratton, examined what leaders can do to counteract the effects of the great resignation by retaining the people they already have – and attracting the best talent from elsewhere.

Champion autonomy and wellbeing. Employees want to work for an organisation that cares about their health – and their long-term future. Providing flexibility and autonomy is a must if you want to retain employees throughout their multi-stage lives.

Create good jobs. In a tight labour market, good people want good jobs – and it’s up to employers to design them if they want to attract the best talent. As well as flexibility and autonomy, good jobs offer reasonable pay, engaged and empathetic bosses, training and a culture of two-way communication and fairness.

Keep up with the disruptors. Some of the more outlandish policies – from unlimited leave allowances to allowing employees to work anywhere in the world – could well become industry standards while we aren’t looking. Keep an eye on them and be realistic about how your packages compare with the most inventive employers.

Importantly, leaders must recognise that by the time resignations drop off and people settle into new roles, employee expectations will have changed for good. Organisations will need to ensure not only that they are meeting these updated requirements, but that they are mitigating against future risk by experimenting with the expectations of the future.

You can read Lynda Gratton’s recent article on the ‘great resignation’ on the MIT Sloan Review website.