Key Steps Businesses Must Take to Pivot and Thrive During the Great Resignation

What Companies Need to Do Now to Come Out Ahead in 2022

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Content Marketing Specialist @ Gloat

August 18, 2021

‘The Great Resignation’ may be the trend of the moment in the HR conversation, but it’s proving to be far more than just a catchy phrase. The numbers speak for themselves: 9.2 million job vacancies. 850,000 new jobs added. Nearly 4 million resignations. And that’s all within a single month. 

At first glance, what we’re seeing might be summed up as a labor shortage. It’s only when we look beneath the surface that it becomes clear that this mass employee exodus is likely the manifestation of something much bigger: What The Washington Post first coined as ‘the Great Reassessment’ in a piece earlier this year in May. The Great Resignation is being fueled by employees who are stepping back and taking stock of the role work plays in their lives. In the aftermath of a series of crises, people are looking for purpose, considering their career options, examining their relationship with their employer, and reevaluating how, and where, they want to spend their time. 

For leaders, this moment represents a critical fork in the road. Some businesses may rely on legacy strategies and systems to ride out the storm, while others will make the bold choice to change their perspective and embrace new ways of working. We know better than most that these kinds of mindset shifts can be incredibly challenging, so we’ve spoken with our own VP of Insights and Impact, Jeff Schwartz, who founded Deloitte’s Future of Work practice and published a book earlier this year, WORK DISRUPTED, on the importance of adapting 21st century mindsets and models for the challenges of 21st century work and careers. His top takeaways for thriving during the Great Resignation include: 

What You Need to Do Now to Come Out Ahead in 2022

Embrace Your ‘80-point IQ Shift’ — And Let Technology Help

Now more than ever, leaders can’t shy away from making major changes. We’re living in a decade of disruption, or what Jeff refers to as “a time of choice and consequence”. As employees reassess what they want from their careers, organizations must proactively respond by developing new ways of working that align with the expectations of the 21st century workforce. 

Today, leaders are facing decisions that promise to shape the futures of their organizations for years to come. The enterprises that disrupt the status quo are likely to be rewarded because “a change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points”, as Jeff notes, citing renowned computer scientist Alan Kay. 

In our digitally driven world, technology will underpin the vast majority of these fundamental mindset shifts. Jeff offers the following advice to leaders who are looking for a path forward:

My suggestion is to do something different. The opportunity now is to hear and understand the call of the Great Reassessment, to know it’s an ongoing event and that we’re living in a world that requires agility. And that’s one of the reasons why I think this is a unique time for talent marketplaces. They’re a game changer because they open up a new dynamic within your organization.

Jeff Schwartz, VP Insights and Impact at gloat

Recognize and Empower the Agency of Your Employees

Do you think your people generally consider themselves to be loyal employees to your organization, or free agents? The answer might surprise you: While employers may hope for an unwavering commitment from their workforce, Deloitte research reveals that this isn’t always the case. In fact, nearly 40% of full-time employees surveyed in April 2021 consider themselves free agents, able and willing to move on to a new opportunity at any time. 

While employees in decades past might have valued stability and consistency, modern workers are putting a premium on autonomy, purpose, and motivation. As the record-breaking number of job vacancies illustrates, employees aren’t afraid to think on their feet and jump ship in search of better opportunities.

With the power in your employees’ hands, what does it really take to retain your workforce? “In a free agent world, we have a requirement as business and HR leaders to put in place platforms and programs that help people choose our company every day,” Jeff advises. “Employees need to see that the world of opportunity that they’re being barraged with from external sources is equally met internally.”

Jeff points to talent marketplaces as a new frontier for giving your employees the sense of career ownership and decision-making power that many are looking for.

When I talk about talent marketplaces, I’m thinking about employees having visibility and choice and agency. It’s not just that they can see projects and learning opportunities, it’s that their organization is set up in such a way that they can actually take advantage of them. Agency is a critical concept.

Equal Access to Opportunity is Non-Negotiable

When it comes to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the new world of work, actions really do speak louder than words. On the heels of a cultural reckoning and a series of health, economic, and social crises, employees are looking to their organizations to step up and make a difference. In fact, Gartner research reveals that nearly 70% of workers would consider leaving their employer for an organization that takes a stronger stance on societal and cultural issues.

While it’s evident that people want to see businesses making a difference, the path to lasting change is often less clear. What do employers need to do to demonstrate that DE&I isn’t just a talking point, but rather a core component of their cultural identity? Instead of turning their focus outwards, leaders should start by reevaluating their organization’s own systems and processes to ensure they’re creating a level playing field.

Employees are looking for organizations to actually do something different,” Jeff explains. “The opportunity and contribution of talent marketplaces is exciting because they can help us really change the way opportunity is accessed within organizations.

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Build the Foundation for Lifelong Reinvention

It’s not just employee expectations that are changing the way we work; there’s also a logistical component. As life expectancy extends, careers are getting longer. While an entry-level employee in the 1960’s might have planned to work for the next 30-35 years, people entering the workforce now may have a professional journey that is almost double that length of time.

Jeff describes this fundamental change:

21st century careers are different. Careers are longer, so we need to think about ‘what does it mean to create careers and strategies for people who are going to be working for 50 or 60 years?’ People who are going to be working through multiple moves within their careers, hopefully more within their organization than outside their organization.

Encouraging your people to grow within your organization can be a challenge, especially because many workers favor external opportunities when they’re hoping to go in a new direction. Deloitte research found that employees believe it is 2.5 times easier to access opportunities outside of their organization versus within it. 

While traditional upskilling curriculums might help employees who are looking to pivot, it’s hands-on training that often has the biggest impact. As a result, Jeff points to talent marketplaces as a crucial tool to provide employees with the experiential learning opportunities needed to reinvent themselves. He explains, “People are not rewarded for learning and acquiring new skills, what people are rewarded for is having new experiences and being able to access and take on new jobs, which is why the talent marketplace becomes much more of the driver and central hub that really pulls all of these pieces into place.”

2022 is approaching fast. The leaders of tomorrow will be the organizations that understand, embrace, and adapt to the changes that the Great Resignation is causing today. If you’re looking for more insights on what you can do to set your business up for success in the new world of work, check out the full recording of our latest Gloat Live Session, Thriving Through the Great Resignation.

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