Where Have All The Workers Gone: 5 Factors

By Linda Brenner | March 22, 2022

Let's begin by acknowledging the dramatically different external factors that we're all facing, which have emerged or grown significantly from just three years ago. For nearly all organizations, the competitive landscape has become more challenging, the demand for improved products and outcomes is more acute, the drive for ever-more technology-based innovations hasn't abated, supply chain challenges are ongoing and unpredictable, customers' preferences and habits have changed, and the "post" COVID scracity of talent hampers all employers.

Within organizations, there are common and new internal challenges as well: the need to drive more aggressive measures of success, the greater demand for high-performing, diverse talent, increased attrition, candidate and employee demand for more flexible work options, and the long-standing challenge of getting accurate talent data to guide the prioritization of hiring and retention efforts.

These challenges require leaders to align on how to prioritize the solutions to winning and retaining talent - and they also put the spotlight on HR to lead and guide the effort. To begin, it's critical to understand why workers are leaving and where they're going:

  1. Based on Feb 2022 US Chamber of Commerce data, four factors are driving more workers to sit out of the workforce. They are: 1) increased savings and perceived ability to financially skip working for some period of time, 2) Early retirements, 3) Lack of access to childcare, and 4) New business start ups.
  2. The same study identified the top reasons for resignations in 2021: 1) Improved work-life balance, 2) Improved flexibility, 3) More pay, 4) Better company culture.
  3. Meanwhile, recent studies including a Future Forum survey and others found a disconnect between what executives want vs. what employees want:
    – 72% of workers who are dissatisfied with their current level of flexibility say they are likely to look for a new job in the next year. 
    – 75% of executives who are working remotely would prefer to work onsite at least three days per week compared to 37% of nonexecutives.
  4. While all regions are experiencing significant hiring needs and talent gaps (hence, not just red or blue states or urban or rural areas) - the rates, roles, talent preferences and competition for talent are signficantly different across the US. This means that one-size-fits-all approaches to recruiting and retention just don't work.
  5. What's not new? Talent Strategy remains a significant concern among executives . . . the change being that, according to Gartner, it's now viewed as the number one risk.

So what are organizations to do? 

  • Segment your organizations roles by those that are most critical to driving business value (versus those roles that support the creation of business value)
  • Of those most critical roles, determine which have the scarcest talent supply in the marketplace
  • This group of roles should then become the focus of your most aggressive, data-based talent investments. The goal? Win and retain more than your fair share of  high-performing diverse talent. 
  • Engineer the processes necessary to getting ahead of your talent competition from a hiring perspective, and determine what needs to be done to stave off attrition for those in these roles.

Need help getting all this done? Drop us a note. We'll get right back to you.

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Linda Brenner

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