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'Frictionless' Recruiting to Survive the Great Resignation

November 10, 2021 Talent Management
Mark Feffer
By Mark Feffer

Though they weren’t thrilled with their situation, more American workers stayed in their jobs during 2020, with 6 million fewer making a switch than did in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That changed in 2021: Between March and July alone, 19 million workers quit their jobs, 7 million more than did during the same period last year. Nearly 3 percent of the U.S. workforce quit their jobs in August alone.

What's behind the Great Resignation, as some have taken to calling it? Burnout, lack of flexibility and not feeling valued, according to a survey of 1,000 full-time US workers who started a new job in 2021 that was conducted by Bellevue, Wash.-based employee experience firm Limeade.

Whatever the reason behind the exodus, employers need to adapt to the new reality, not just to hold on to their valued employees, but to recruit and hire new ones. Here are some lessons learned and a few tips for recruiting amidst the churn.

Learning Lessons From the Great Resignation

According to Limeade's "The Great Resignation Update" report, 28% of employees left their jobs without having lined up another position. The reasons? Burnout (40%) and organizational changes (34%) topped the list. Lack of flexibility, discrimination and contributions and ideas not being valued all tied at 20%. In addition, 19% of employees moved on because of insufficient benefits, and 16% resigned because they said their employer didn’t support their well-being.

Those wanting to improve their work situation put a relatively high value on the ability to work remotely (40%) and take advantage of other forms of flexibility (24%), like not being restricted to complete job responsibilities during set working hours. In addition to flexibility and remote work, employees who changed jobs said they were attracted by better compensation (37%) and better management (31%).

Nearly a third of these workers (29%) received a 10% to 19% salary increase. About 13% took a pay cut for a new position, while 23% kept their pay the same. That indicates better compensation isn’t always a requirement for job changers. Meanwhile, 22% reported improved feelings about being cared for "as a person" by their new employer.

The "mass exodus" from current positions is a sign of burnout and "a societal breakdown when it came to the ecosystem of work, home and well-being," said Dr. Laura Hamill, Limeade chief science advisor. "People reached their limits.”

She called the Great Resignation "a great opportunity for employers to evolve, learn and do better." The employers who succeed, she said, will be the ones who learn and grow from this feedback.

Related Article: How Your Company Can Avoid the Great Resignation

It's 'Open Enrollment' Season for Jobs

Julie Rieken, CEO of Seattle-based talent platform Trakstar, said data surrounding today’s employee movement is "stunning." According to her company’s research, job postings rose by 52%. Applicants are up 23%, interviews 85%, and hiring has risen by 163%.

"We’re definitively seeing more people being ready to move jobs and think about either new career paths or new companies or different kinds of work environments," she said.

For example, businesses that were recruiting for geographic locations have centered their thinking around gathering employees in offices. Today, an employee looking for change can explore their options beyond a specific area, leading them to think "maybe it’s time for me to change my career or what I was doing wasn’t the thing that I thought I wanted," Rieken said.

Rieken said the pressures and circumstances of COVID-19 have created a situation that’s akin to an open enrollment event, when mass groups of people select and update their healthcare benefits for the coming year. Even though people may have been considering a job change for some time, "now the world has opened up."

The increasing willingness of employees to look for new opportunities has led some employers to do some soul-searching about how they’re perceived and why so many workers may be stepping toward to door. Often, companies begin to assume they’re a terrible place to work though that’s often not the case.

“My advice is to reflect on our own organizations to find out if employees are engaged,” Rieken said. “But I think this has been an open enrollment event that, regardless of the kind of workplace, people are thinking about change right now.”

Related Article: HR Leaders Share Their Employee Retention Strategies Amid the Great Resignation

Three Tips to Fine Tune Recruiting

So what can employers do amidst the churn? Understanding the dynamics of the talent pool is an important way for employers to hold onto their sanity in this market.

“For as much unemployment as there is, it feels like the talent pool is restricted,” Rieken said. “What I think employers need to be thinking about is, actually, the fiercely competitive nature of the job market.”

Rieken suggested three nuts-and-bolts measures to gauge how effective talent acquisition and recruiting efforts actually are:

Evaluate Your Careers Page

Employers should take a look at their website’s careers page to see whether it communicates corporate culture, offers accurate job descriptions and is attractive to users in the first place.

“In this day and age when it’s fiercely competitive, you have to have a careers page that stands out,” she said. “We may not have looked back to determine ‘Hey, is this what we want it to look like today?’ But you want that page to be awesome and to stand out.”  

Review the Application Process

Get an unbiased report on the experience of potential recruits. The secret shopper model offers a useful method, Rieken said. 

“Employers should secret shop their application process, and go back and re-audit it, try it again," she said. "Are there speed bumps? Is it complicated? Is it preventative? Find out if those things could be preventing great candidates from even applying."

Focus on a Frictionless Application Process

Make sure the hiring process is set up collaboratively with other functions and includes outstanding communication with job candidates. The idea is to provide candidates with a “frictionless” application process that moves along at a reasonable pace, Rieken said. Moving quickly is essential in this job market.

"Your team has to be ready to go,” Rieken said. “Speed matters. Tomorrow, the next day, be ready with your job offer when you find the candidate that you like."

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