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Finding The Silver Lining Of The Great Resignation

May 2022
Jan-Bart Smits
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As a flood of employees look elsewhere for jobs, executive search is poised to play a more crucial role than ever

The terms ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘The Big Quit’ first made headlines back in the spring of 2021. It is now being rebranded as ‘The Great Realignment.’ But the widespread phenomenon of people giving up their jobs en masse amid the pandemic has shown no sign of slowing down: In January of this year alone, 4.3 million people in the United States quit their jobs, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, a figure that almost touches upon the record set back in November. And while this may be causing panic among employers as their work force inevitably diminishes, this period represents a significant opportunity for executive search in luring talent to the companies that need it most and playing a crucial role in retaining that talent.

Vaccine mandates, pandemic-related restrictions, and a strong market for candidates are just some of the main factors that have contributed to the trend. And it’s not just a phenomenon in the United States – workers around the world have taken notice and realized that they, too, want something better. The number of resignations has spiked in places like the United Kingdom, France, and Australia, and many other countries are starting to see similar trends take off.

The messaging platform Slack recently commissioned a study of workers in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France, and the United States, and it found that people’s openness to seeking a new job has increased every quarter since last June. And a recent unrelated survey in Singapore found that almost half of respondents weren’t sure whether they’d stay in their jobs past the next six months.

Even before 2020, many people in Western countries, in particular, were switching up jobs every two to three years. This job-hopping trend then exploded under the changed landscape of the pandemic, with remote work, hybrid office setups, and the chance to work from anywhere broadening the horizons of what it means to work for a company.

A majority of those taking part in ‘The Great Resignation’ aren’t leaving the work force per se but rather looking for new opportunities, and the job market is now stronger than ever. High demand is pushing up wages, which lures people away from their current jobs. The ball is in the hands of job hunters – and it’s executive search consultants who can help companies learn to play by the rules of the new game.

“The ball is in the hands of job hunters – and it’s executive search consultants who can help companies learn to play by the rules of the new game.”

How Executive Search Can Help

While some companies have suffered because of losing so many workers, others such as those in the tech industry that are able to offer the flexibility and purpose that people are seeking find that they can’t hire executives fast enough. Tech has been a booming industry thanks to investment and so much M&A and thus was perfectly poised to welcome people even from other industries.

And it’s not just tech. There’s a veritable war for talent now across industries, and that means companies are rushing to offer the best perks to lure potential employees. Many are now offering extra benefits such as financial-wellness programs, support for working mothers, and mental-health support.

Leaders and their trusted executive search consultants can work together to overcome this problem, with consultants advising leaders on what exactly the top talent out there wants, what candidates find most attractive in a company, and what specific things leaders need to offer to attract and keep talent. Executive search consultants can also provide key advise culled from years of experience when it comes to approaching culture and values.

What Can Leaders Do?

People want more from their companies now. They want their companies to share their values about the environment, current events, and social issues, and to offer flexibility, purpose, and well-being along with competitive pay, the chance to develop skills, and good working conditions. For executive search consultants and the organizations they represent, this means it’s critically important to show candidates how the company will meet – or exceed – their expectations.

For leaders, it’s never been more important to shore up company culture and foster a sense of belonging. Employees need to feel committed to an organization’s values, and when they feel they are being listened to, respected, valued, and included because of their individuality, they perform better and are less likely to look elsewhere for a fulfilling job. Now more than ever before, leaders must commit to promoting and supporting initiatives in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and ensuring it’s an accountable metric within their framework of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) framework. This can be augmented together with a balancing out of the power division in times of buyers- versus seller-market, as noted in an earlier published document by Stanton Chase.

Even though the trend is expected to taper off later this year, the new, honed focus on the importance of company culture will continue in candidates’ assessment of potential employers. Stanton Chase’s executive search consultants can help leaders take a hard look at what they currently offer and how they’re viewed by current and prospective workers. They can also help define an organization’s unique company culture, advise on how to boost DE&I initiatives, and – crucially – find the best people who are looking for a new opportunity.

To find out more about how Stanton Chase can help leaders make the most of ‘The Great Resignation,’ contact your nearest office.

About the Author:

Jan-Bart is the International Chair of Stanton Chase.

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