There have been many names given to the huge shifts in the workforce caused by Covid-19: the Great Resignation, the Big Quit, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Talent Swap. All imply a single event -- a one-and-done shift of talent.
However, as a recent research report from Workhuman highlights, this disruption is actually an ongoing process; a tumult of waves rather than a "Turnover Tsunami."
Despite the tumult of the past two years, people did move on, both professionally and personally, but the pandemic inspired people to reassess their lives. Many left their jobs to seek work at new companies and in different sectors that would suit them better. However, this research suggests that workers' desire for change persists two years in from the start of the pandemic.
The number of people looking for new jobs remains high -- 36 percent as of November 2021, according to Workhuman's report. However, many of those who have moved jobs are finding that the grass is not always greener. More than 50 percent of Covid-era hires plan to look for new work in the next 12 months; and nearly two thirds (62 percent) of Boomerang employees -- workers who say that they would return to a former employer -- echo that sentiment, with this number rising for those who started a new job during the pandemic (69 percent).
Make work more human
At a time when people are still struggling to find balance between working to live and living to work, HR and business leaders need to refocus their efforts to make their companies a desired destination for people seeking work. And research suggests that employers can achieve these goals by doubling down on connection, community, and belonging. In other words, by making work less transactional and more human. Here are three ways of doing it:
1. Start by showing praise and appreciation
You don't need data to tell you that today's workforce is increasingly burned out, stressed, and overworked -- and yearning for a sense of connection. While these workers will need to be supported in myriad ways, one easy win is to simply be more publicly appreciative of them. In fact, Workhuman's findings discovered that employees who were thanked in the last month were half as likely to be searching for a new job and three times more likely to see a path to grow within their current organization.
This has an outsize impact from a small shift, just a simple change of mindset, and a willingness to invest in your people. We are all human, and we all know firsthand the lift we get when someone gives praise when we do something right. Showing genuine gratitude more frequently fosters the comradery and connection you need to recruit and retain top talent.
2. Communicate your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
While many social justice issues have brought diversity and inclusion front-and-center, how have they impacted the workplace? The vast majority (72 percent) of people surveyed also said that diversity, equity, and inclusion is a somewhat or very important factor when it comes to deciding whether to stay at a company. That number is even higher for Gen Z workers (86 percent) and Black workers (87 percent). This should give leaders pause as they consider the implications their DEI efforts have on everything from the psychological safety of their employees to the team's connection to their work.
And it doesn't necessarily matter where your organization is in its DEI journey; the key is to have a clear vision for where you want to be and a commitment to communicating that vision internally (to employees) and externally (to prospective talent). Much like saying thank you, this is a simple shift of offering more transparency, and ultimately, building trust with your colleagues.
3. Recognize life events
There are many important life events that happen outside of the office -- buying a house, getting married, having kids, running a marathon, etc. And while we often contemplate how much of our personal life should carry over into our work life and vice versa, there are plenty of milestones such as these that don't need to be done in secret; they should be celebrated.
Sixty-six percent of people say they would appreciate more opportunities to celebrate personal life events at work, yet 54 percent of organizations don't currently celebrate those events, according to Workhuman.
This is seen as a wasted opportunity to help people feel that work truly is a part of their lives. Therefore, leaders should consider unique ways to bring people together -- including remote workers -- to mark important moments.
While the Great Resignation will likely stay with us for a while, leaders can offset its disruption by leaning on the evidence. Research on employee engagement and wellbeing has proved time and time again that employees seek to be recognized and appreciated.
People are what make a company succeed, so it is incumbent upon leaders to create an environment that helps them thrive. By pivoting to more human experiences, leaders can turn the tide on employee turnover and even win back many of the boomerang employees they have lost.