Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Deriving Opportunities from the Great Resignation

Matt Moore

We’re in a season of superlatives, and one of the top headline-grabbing trends of 2021 – The Great Resignation – continued in September, as the Labor Department reported on Friday that 4.4 Million workers left their jobs in September of 2021. The hardest-hit industry was Leisure & Hospitality, as 6.4% of the total workforce in that sector left their jobs.

In the last view months, we’ve discussed extensively the on-going changes occurring in the world of employment as the world continues to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic. This week, we’re just going to take a quick look at some of the dynamics involved in the Great Resignation, and some potential opportunities for employers to hire, retain, and support successful teams in this ever-changing landscape.

Burnout / Lack of Flexibility Top Contributors

One of the most cited reasons for workers leaving their jobs was burnout and lack of flexibility. In the Leisure and Hospitality sector especially, staffing shortages abound, resulting in substantial pressure and stress falling onto those employees who have to cover more hours, take on additional responsibilities, and receive less time off. With little to no work life balance, and increased weight being carried without additional benefits or increased wages, large numbers of employees are opting to walk away from their jobs to seek out better prospects (which are currently fairly abundant).

Employers in every industry need to think about how they can offer increased work / life balance to reduce burnout (and costly turnover). This may require never-before-considered operational changes, such as reducing business hours / capacity certain days of the week to ensure staff have time off, and offering scheduling flexibility where possible (4 x 10 hr workdays as opposed to the traditional 5 x 8-hr days). Any steps you can take to reduce stress and burnout among your team and show your appreciation for their efforts will go a long way towards keeping your team intact and ensuring a fully functional (and hopefully thriving) operation.

Make Room for Retirees

In the last 12 months, 2 Million more workers retired than trends projected. A large number of individuals decided to retire earlier than they had planned for a variety of reasons. Because they’ve jumped into retirement early, many are still interested in working even though they’ve moved on from their primary careers.

CoolWorks has long been a favorite resource for retirees who want to travel, meet new people, and spend time exploring and living in new places. Many employers overlook this demographic, but creating an environment (by providing RV spaces, private/quiet dorm options, etc.) and an employment marketing message that is inclusive and inviting to retirees can expand your potential candidate pool with qualified, experienced, and enthusiastic candidates. If you’re not already doing so, take a look at your employment offerings to identify opportunities to tap into this extremely talented audience of applicants.

Respond to Every Applicant

We all know that many employers are reporting an inability to find staff. At the same time, many job seekers are reporting that they’ve submitted dozens to even hundreds of job applications and heard nothing back. Some of this could be due to hiring departments dealing with their own staffing shortages and turnover. Some of it could be due to a lack of necessary tools to efficiently process and respond to a high volume of applications (such as an Applicant Tracking System). Finally, many employers report that they’re working through a substantial application backlog, as the large increase in quit rates corresponds to a high number of candidates looking to move to a new job.

Whatever the case, make sure that you’re not missing out on candidates by letting communication drop off from the first interaction. Make sure that your application funnel and process includes tools that allow you to do each of the following:

  • Immediately notify candidates that their application has been received, and a rough estimate of when they can expect to hear back.
  • Scan important application information that allows your team to quickly identify and respond to those candidates that aren’t going to be a fit.
  • Quickly identify and follow up with those candidates that you want to advance in your hiring process.
  • Stay engaged and in communication with the candidates you hire. Just because they’ve accepted a position doesn’t mean they won’t keep looking – or that motivated recruiters won’t be looking for them.

Every upheaval presents challenges, as well as opportunities. The Great Resignation is no different – it has and will continue to create staffing challenges for all organizations. Those challenges will also present companies with opportunities to adapt to the changing demands of today’s workforce, and step into the future better prepared to attract qualified candidates and provide them an employee experience where they feel supported and motivated to help your company succeed.