It's now been more than six months since the term "Great Resignation" started hitting headlines, as employees facing rising costs ventured out on a mass scale to look for better wages and better experiences. The term has taken on a life of its own, with countless articles, a Wikipedia page, and even as the title of a book.

But so far, coverage of the Great Resignation has focused on the negative: the workers that businesses are losing. More than half a year after the start of this great exodus, it's time for leaders to look at where employees are headed next and to get ready for the next phase of the ever-changing employment situation: "the Great Onboarding."

My workplace, Qualtrics XM Institute research, found that 72.4 million U.S. employees (52 percent of the workforce) are likely to look for a new job within the next six months. That's a 14 percent increase from 2019. It's clear that today's employees will not be complacent, stay at companies that aren't keeping up with new demands for safety, flexibility, and better compensation. And as millions of workers join new organizations in 2022, the onboarding experience will be key in shaping how they view their new employer and how long they intend to stay.

While businesses continue to navigate the risks and opportunities of this dynamic environment, leaders who focus on upgrading their workforce will be able to capitalize on market shifts to attract and retain new talent looking for a better work experience.

The makeup of today's job seekers

First, it's important to understand who today's job seekers are. The largest group of job seekers is between 25 and 34 years old, and 55 percent of the total job seekers are between the ages of 25 and 44, according to the Qualtrics XM Institute research.

Many of the employees in this age group, who are in the middle of their careers, experienced a shift to remote work. This untethering of their jobs to a specific location pushed many of them to rethink the relationship between their work and life, and now they're looking for more flexibility around where, when, and how they work.

Companies relied heavily on senior leaders to manage through the pandemic, and that is now taking its toll as well. Sixty-two percent of department managers and 72 percent of managers of multiple departments are likely to look for a new job in the coming months.

It's been a stressful couple of years for just about every leader who's dealt with shifts in customer demand in addition to big changes in how their teams work. As we get closer to the stabilization of the Covid crisis, many simply need a change of scenery and the chance to feel reinvigorated.

Reimagining the onboarding experience

Rather than overly focusing on the many employees who may be leaving, leaders should turn their attention to retaining their strongest workers and hiring new employees who will propel the organization forward. This is an opportunity to upgrade the workforce by providing better experiences.

The onboarding experience in particular is often underresourced and underdesigned. Many employers fail to honor the massive shift in a person's life that comes when starting a new job. With so much anticipated turnover, it's critical for organizations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their onboarding efforts now, in order to help employees feel a sense of belonging and value, even if they're working remotely.

Companies welcoming incoming employees will do well to remember that job seekers are looking for more flexibility, reinvigorating opportunities, and relief from burnout. Leaders should take an empathetic tone, highlighting their commitment to employee needs and benefits, particularly regarding mental health. Sharing a clear and compelling vision for the organization will also encourage employees looking for a fresh start and enable organizations to tap into the full range of their abilities.

Investing in a great onboarding experience will accelerate the process of turning new hires into engaged and purpose-driven employees and will help replace resignation with retention.