The Great Resignation: What Is It and How Is It Impacting Recruiting?

As recruiters and employers are probably well aware, the Great Resignation is an ongoing movement where many employees are quitting their jobs for something better. It started in April 2021, when a record four million workers left. Quit rates rose for retail and foodservice and were enormous in healthcare, with one in five healthcare workers quitting from the beginning of COVID-19 to November 2021.

But why is this happening? And how does it affect recruiting efforts as companies look for better ways to fill open positions?

Causes of the Great Resignation

There are several factors behind the en masse resignation we’ve been seeing. For one, the pandemic brought more at-home work options and flexible schedules. Employees became more aware of what they wanted (and previously lacked) from their job and work conditions.

In addition, jobs that required in-person interactions suffered as workers worried about safety. Some people could not work as they could before due to COVID-related issues, and many nurses and other healthcare workers quit due to burnout.

Companies are also still struggling to fill open jobs, which gives employees more of the power to ask for better pay, hours, and working conditions. There’s less fear about being able to find a better opportunity.

What Are the Effects of the Great Resignation on Recruiting?

For recruiters, the Great Resignation means higher turnover rates while struggling to fill open jobs. However, it also means people are quitting with a better understanding of their needs and skills. In their recruitment strategies, companies can tap into those needs of job seekers looking for something more.

Companies that focus on recruiting and retaining valuable talent will ultimately come out on top. Identify areas where employees are dissatisfied at their current (or former) positions, and offer something to fill those needs.

Combating the Great Resignation: What Can Companies Do Differently?

One thing is clear: it’s not all about the money. While higher wages are certainly a reason for some resignations, evidence shows wage dissatisfaction ranked 16th for predictions of employee turnover.

Besides raising wages, here are some things businesses can improve (and recruiters can focus on) based on what employees are looking for in new positions.

Offer Work from Home Flexibility

Employees who were offered work-from-home options during the pandemic don’t want to go back to standard in-office work — at least not entirely. With so many businesses offering remote work options, it’s wise for employers to provide the same if they can. They should mention this as an explicit offering in their job postings.

(However, it’s a different story for blue-collar employees. A report found that front-line workers were more likely to stay at a job with stable scheduling, as regular schedules ensured more stable work time and wages.)

Promote Healthier, More Diverse Work Cultures

Flexibility is nice, but it’s not enough to draw in employees looking for more. Toxic work cultures are the most decisive factor in predicting turnover and employee dissatisfaction.

Now is the time for employers to promote inclusive, supported work environments for current and future employees. Job seekers want to know that they will be joining a team that promotes ethical behavior and processes.

Recognize Employee Performance

Employees are also more likely to quit a position if they don’t receive recognition for hard work. Companies should prioritize distinguishing between great work and under performance so that employees who put in the work are being acknowledged and rewarded.

The Great Resignation has made it more challenging for businesses to retain employees, not to mention the best talent. But employers can also improve hiring and recruitment practices by listening carefully to employee needs and (as much as possible) meeting those needs.