As weeks turn into months, it remains clear that this labour market favours talent. As an employer, you need to adjust to that reality. In the United States, the Great Resignation has continued to take place as workers have left their jobs to look for different opportunities at their own leisure. While Canada has not seen as many job vacancies, the effect of the Great Resignation, better benefits and pays for workers, has taken place in Canada. In the United Kingdom, we are seeing a similar exodus of workers where the employment rate is below pre-pandemic levels. This article will let you know how to best play the talent game as an employer and make sure you retain elite talent.
Two significant trends for employees who left their job during the pandemic
In the U.S.A, workers who left their job exceeded new hires by almost 5 million – for the 10.9 million job openings, there were 6.3 million new hires. A large portion of those who left those jobs are doing the following:
- Taking on completely different roles
- Leaving the workforce entirely (or at least for the next few months, with 44% of workers surveyed by McKinsey saying that they had no interest in returning to traditional jobs within 6 months)
While offering more benefits and pay can be a powerful tool in attracting or retaining workers, these trends presuppose that pay isn’t the only reason people are leaving. If you’re leaving the workforce entirely or taking on a completely different role, then intrinsic factors are likely the most considerable motivation for change. As James Rhyu, the CEO of Stride Inc. put it, “many of us have found ourselves asking: Is work really for ‘a paycheck or purpose?’”
So how do I keep my workers? Extrinsic and Intrinsic Factors
If workers leave for other work because of intrinsic factors, then extrinsic factors such as pay or benefits can help. When one considers certain job sectors, pay is a primary reason why people switched to another job – but there might be intrinsic reasons behind that. Creativity is required, along with a thorough understanding of your employees and what they want.
Frontline workers are a great example of how intrinsic and extrinsic can affect job satisfaction. 70% of healthcare workers in Ontario were said to have quit their job because of poor wages and unsafe working conditions, while 54% of current healthcare workers want a new job in another sector. Considering how important healthcare workers were to society during the pandemic, how can you feel important, or intrinsically satisfied, if you feel underpaid and unsafe? You can’t, and while healthcare workers do perform different types of work than most of the workforce, they are a perfect example of how extrinsic factors can impact intrinsic satisfaction.
For the broader American workforce, McKinsey surveyed workers who had left their job by asking them the reasoning behind the said decision. A lack of an adequate total compensation package was about the third most common reason – which could lead to feelings of being underappreciated, such as what most healthcare workers experience. However, the reasons for “looking for meaningful work” and “workplace flexibility” were (about) the first and second most common reasons for resignation.
“Meaningful work” can probably be the hardest to pin down. If someone does not think their work is meaningful to them or others, they probably won’t be pleased to do their job. On the other hand, healthcare workers who have incredibly meaningful work left their jobs for better work conditions and pay. To retain a worker who is searching for meaningful work, you can’t skimp out on the compensation package. Still, you can create a system that allows people to expand the work they do. Do you have a job rotation program? Do you allow lateral moves at your company, or promote from within? These are all pathways to potentially letting employees stay within your organization while also doing work that is meaningful for them.
Workplace flexibility is probably a little easier to figure out. Perhaps workers citing this reason are already paid well or like their work – they just feel stressed or burnt out. Changing your leave or vacation policies to become more accommodating can help these employees. Instituting flexible work hours can help a worker find a work-life balance. Per McKinsey, some companies have also started providing days off for mental health days and professional development.
Retain your workers through a holistic view
The common thread in all the above discourse is the underlying importance of understanding your employees’ extrinsic and intrinsic factors. For healthcare workers doing significantly meaningful work (that only became more important during COVID-19), extrinsic reasons (pay and safety conditions) motivated their reasons for quitting. That lack of pay and safety may have also led to feeling undervalued. For workers in other sectors, lack of meaningful work and flexibility were intrinsic factors that motivated them to quit. However, employers can tackle that by providing days for flexible hours and job rotation programs. That can be a lot to balance for employers – but can pay off for both employee, and employer, in the end.
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