We’re in the middle of a period that many are calling “The Great Resignation” as more employees than ever are leaving their jobs for a new challenge. More than 24 million workers in the US have quit their jobs since April 2021; this number is growing by the day. A recent survey by Thomas International claimed that 40% of employees surveyed were at least somewhat likely to leave their current job in the next 3 – 6 months, and 53% of employers said they are experiencing higher voluntary turnover. Of course, there is always turnover within a business, and employees naturally move on; sometimes, they need to relocate, want a new challenge, or even retire. There are countless reasons employees leave a job.
However, the last two years have seen a considerable shift in priorities and workers have begun to rethink what’s important to them, both at work and in their personal lives. This is why many are moving on. Plus, with digital and technical skills in such high demand, employees working in this sector are constantly being contacted about new opportunities, tempted by larger salaries or the chance to make an impact in a news organisation. In a candidate-driven market, unhappy employees are more likely to leave even without a new job lined up as there is less risk and a greater chance of finding something new in the near future if they focus on the job hunt. The rise in remote work will contribute to this, as now they’re limited by geography and could be snapped up by countries across the globe.
Employees leaving causes huge issues for many employers, particularly scaling tech businesses. With little warning, they have to fill the roles someone leaves behind, which can interfere with existing talent acquisition plans, putting plans for growth on hold. For example, imagine you’re trying to hire a whole new team of software engineers, but your CTO leaves; you wouldn’t be able to continue employing the developers until you’ve replaced the team leader. Clearly, employers can’t keep hiring for new roles if your existing team are leaving. It’s a logistical nightmare.
More employees will be tempted to quit if they see their peers doing so, and a high turnover is bad for the employer brand image, which can hinder your talent acquisition efforts for a long time. Without addressing why your teams are leaving, you’ll be walking into a continuous recruitment cycle, as candidates leave for a better offer time and time again.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that, for many, keeping hold of their employees and focusing on employee retention is becoming a number one priority. However, in 2022, as the race for tech talent tightens and there are consequently more opportunities, attrition will be just as big of an issue as the skills gap. As a result, there will be more temptation for employees to leave, and if your company hasn’t addressed any problems, that could be motivation to push them out of the door.
Employee retention will become almost as important to your people strategy as attracting candidates because businesses will need to hold onto their people if they ever wish to grow. Otherwise, you’re stuck in a continuous recruitment cycle.
Should you have to choose between addressing attrition and attraction?
Ideally, both retaining talent and attracting talent should form an equally important part of your recruitment strategy. You can’t attract new talent without a happy and engaged team, but you also can’t build a successful team without attracting talent. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that employers get so caught up in attracting new talent that they let their existing teams fall by the wayside. We’ve heard stories of employers promising new and exciting perks to new candidates but failing to mirror the same experience to their existing team, causing friction and eventual staff turnover. Therefore usually, we would recommend paying equal attention to both issues.
However, the market is currently so competitive that employers may have to choose to solve only attrition or attraction problems temporarily. With both posing huge challenges for employers today, it seems talent teams need to focus primarily on building an EVP and employer brand that can excite internal teams or dedicating their time to sourcing the best candidates. Otherwise, these talent professionals’ risk being stretched. But, of course, if your talent team leaves due to burnout, then that’s a whole other issue.
Could great attrition be the beginning of great attraction?
If you focus on either the attrition problem or solving attraction challenges, efforts in one area will eventually complement the other. For example, if you focus on retaining talent and work to solve your attrition problem, you will, in turn, strengthen your EVP and employer brand, which will help you to attract talent in the future.
If companies take the time to understand why employees are leaving and make meaningful changes to try to retain them, they’ll be able to hold onto teams and attract new talent. Remember, employees’ needs are constantly changing and have evolved more in the last year than ever before. So you need to evaluate what it means to work at your business in 2022 and whether expectation currently meets reality.
It’s no good trying to hold onto your people or attract new talent if you aren’t willing to acknowledge your shortcomings. To solve both issues, employers need to take a deep dive into their current teams, employee and company culture; otherwise, new hires will leave. It doesn’t matter how good your candidate experience if hires feel neglected once they join the organisation.
But it could work in reverse
Likewise, if you focus on attracting new talent and accept that older team members may move on, it could give you a chance to build a talented and engaged team fit for 2022, with the right skillsets and a shared sense of purpose. If your business is experiencing a skills gap, for example, the great resignation could work in your favour. You can rework your EVP and employer brand messaging to attract a new kind of employee and create the team that will work for you in 2022. By promoting your renewed culture and purpose, you’ll be able to connect with candidates who share your attitude and views. These team members may be more likely to stay.
What if you don’t want to choose?
If you’re a scaling tech business, you may not have the time to choose between solving the attrition or the attraction issues. You need to hire talent and need to keep your core team with you to know the business. Well, that’s where an RPO provider can come in. Your talent team, if you have one, cannot feasibly solve both challenges alone. Recruitment, especially in tech, is more competitive than ever, and employee turnover is at an all-time high; both issues are of equal weight. Therefore, by reaching out to an RPO provider to help you solve one (or both), you can relieve some pressure from your HR teams and ensure that you stand a chance of retaining and attracting talent.
RPO providers specialise in sourcing talent but also building EVPs and employer branding. They can engage with your team through market research methods and get to the bottom of their motivations for leaving, helping you refine your culture and EVP to create a place new and existing teams want to work in. To solve the attraction problem, they can engage in digital attraction techniques and have expert sourcing teams, which allows them to reach candidates with the most niche skillsets.