Almost every company seems to be struggling to retain and hire good talent these days. Of the firms hiring or trying to hire, 92% indicated there were few or no qualified applicants for open positions, and thanks to the Great Resignation employees are leaving left and right. If it isn’t because they’ve accepted a new opportunity with better pay, growth, and/or benefits, it’s to pursue a totally different career direction or to take a break from working altogether.
Note: Workable’s Hiring Pulse also identifies a drop in candidates per hire:
Some companies and industries are certainly faring better than others, but the hundreds of customers and HR leaders I’ve talked to throughout this year all agree – this job market is unlike anything they’ve seen before.
Fortunately, after a year of this upturned hiring market, there may finally be some glimmers of hope. No, it’s not that employees aren’t going to stop quitting. The latest quit numbers are still at record highs and those types of numbers don’t just fall off overnight.
An opportunity for employers
There might just be something like a “Great Return” in our future. Meaning, the tide will turn – at least somewhat – back to employers’ favor and a portion of those millions of workers who quit are going to come back to their old jobs, industries, and careers.
That’s what I and other company leaders are thinking – and hoping for – right now. And while it’s too early to know for sure how it’ll happen, lots of employees who quit this year will return (or be willing to return) under the right conditions. Most of those conditions have to do with aspects of the employee experience that were already outdated or broken.
So, based on what I know about the employee experience and how it’s played a role this past year, these are the three conditions I can see bringing talent back after the Great Resignation:
1) Company culture issues are being addressed
First off, the company culture issues that drove employees away in the first place have been addressed.
Health concerns, toxic team members, poor management, low pay, employee burnout, lack of career growth, lack of diversity and inclusion – these are all top reasons workers have been quitting their jobs during the pandemic. Notice that these are all factors that companies can change and improve as long as they make a real effort.
Whether that means creating new systems and policies, investing in management and skills training, and/or letting go of toxic team members, now’s the time to face these issues head on or else continue to experience talent struggles.
For employees who were otherwise satisfied with their role but “rage-quit” due to one of these culture issues, you can likely lure them back by focusing on fixing what was broken and creating a positive culture where they can thrive. Employees who haven’t completely abandoned their careers might find their way back.
2) Work-life flexibility is now supported
Secondly, employees are getting the work-life flexibility they need in their lives, in location and schedule.
The shift to remote work last year turned out to be a really great setup for many workers and just as productive as in-office work. Employees got so accustomed to it that many decided to quit instead of give up working from home.
It’s important to note though, that it’s not that people wanted to trade in office life with working at home in their pajamas. What they really wanted was the flexibility and freedom that remote work affords them. No more long daily commutes, more opportunity to be with and care for loved ones, choice in where, when and how they work, all while saving money and escaping from office distractions and micromanagement.
Companies that give employees this freedom and flexibility (and set employees up for success through things like remote-friendly internal processes and a remote stipend) will definitely see more workers returning and staying than those that don’t. You can already see companies recognizing this by the uptick in remote jobs and companies going fully remote or hybrid.
3) Comp is now more attractive
And finally – compensation packages and perks are actually competitive and enticing for employees, as well as meaningful and inclusive.
Being underpaid and given odd random perks like ping pong tables and gift cards (or nothing at all) were sadly the norm before the pandemic. And since employers have long held bargaining power in the job market, workers had no choice but to accept it.
Well, the tables have completely turned and candidates now have the upperhand. Demand is so high for workers nowadays that there’s a growing trend of candidates ghosting companies because what companies are offering – in pay, benefits, hours, or other conditions of the job – simply isn’t competitive.
To get workers to return, it’s time to offer pay that actually goes above and beyond market rates and give personalized perks that employees would actually enjoy.
How to offer competitive pay doesn’t need explaining, but perks are more complicated since every employee has unique needs and preferences. A great solution is to offer one or more flexible stipends to help set your company’s compensation package apart.
For example, you can offer a monthly health & wellness stipend that employees can use however they want to support their own wellness journey from emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, etc. This variety of health support is crucial in times like these and leading companies like Microsoft, Webflow, EventBrite, and Investopedia all offer wellness stipends to their employees.
Another idea is to offer a remote stipend that covers employee costs for everything employees would get in an office such as food, internet, technology, productivity, and learning, where they get to choose everything themselves. With more employees working remotely and expecting the company they work for to be fair and inclusive, this would both surprise and entice workers who are searching for greener pastures.
There’s no denying that we’re in an era where employees are seeking change in their work lives and are more than willing to pursue it. For many employees who have decided to leave their jobs for different career paths or for early retirement, that’s exactly the right move for them.
However, I’m willing to bet that for the large number of workers who quit that don’t fall under those two categories, many will make a return to what they left behind under the right conditions.
If your company addresses these three conditions above, you’ll be a top contender in recruiting the talent that’s so difficult to hire these days and also be more successful at keeping the talent you already have.
Amy Spurling is the CEO of Compt.io, an employee stipends platform that offers flexibility in perks and benefits for employees.