Thursday, July 29, 2021

Is the ‘Great Resignation’ an Opportunity for Virginia SMBs?

In April 2021, 4 million people across the U.S. quit their jobs. In May, another  3.6 million walked away

Are these signs of a turnover apocalypse in progress in the Commonwealth? And if so, what can Virginia business leaders do to retain their employees and even secure new talent in a challenging environment?

A Matter of Perspective

Let’s face it, some scary forecasts have been tossed around lately. A frequently cited survey by Prudential Financial, for example, found that a staggering one in four workers plans to leave their current employment. Even more pessimistic, the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index estimates that  41% of employees worldwide may be moving on.

Leave the crystal ball behind, however, and the news is not as dire. Consider that over the long haul, about about 3.5 million Americans resign their positions in any given month. In April 2020, that number plunged to 1.9 million, indicating that some employees likely delayed a planned job search due to COVID-19 concerns. 

As the calendar year changed over and pandemic fears began to ease, pent-up turnover broke out. But total quits, according to the most recent data available, are now running only a little higher than historical average. 

Rewarding, Fulfilling, and Flexible

Was that the Great Resignation we’ve been hearing so much about? Is it over? 

June employment numbers haven’t yet been posted, but regardless of whether Virginia SMBs can count on continued stabilization in voluntary turnover, local CEOs are eagerly checking in on their talent acquisition and retention strategies. 

“The result of our national period of introspection—a workforce more focused than ever on finding employment opportunities that are rewarding, fulfilling, and flexible.”

Ask any experienced business owner and they’ll tell you that a regular talent review is an important best practice. The deep shifts in employee attitudes toward work right now, though, make such an appraisal especially urgent. Companies that adapt most effectively to today’s rapidly evolving employee perspectives can gain competitive advantage in a tight job market and capture the talent necessary to capitalize on a V-shaped economic recovery. 

The best news, small and mid-sized businesses might be in the catbird’s seat here. Despite perceptions about enhanced unemployment benefits and heightened salary demands, workers themselves are telling a larger story about their career goals. Although pay scale certainly matters, countless employees have reexamined their employment priorities in light of COVID-19 and discovered what matters more than money. 

The result of our national period of introspection—a workforce more focused than ever on finding employment opportunities that are rewarding, fulfilling, and flexible. 

Good Questions

As any VACEOs Roundtable participant quickly realizes, good questions are often more valuable than great answers. So here are some talent-related queries you may want to pursue alone or with your peers in 2021, whether the Great Resignation comes for your industry or not.   

#1 Mission

Some employees who took a step back in 2020 are now seeking a greater sense of purpose on the job. Take U.S. Marines veteran Jake Mancini, who was profiled in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in July. After leaving a career in manufacturing to become a software engineer, he’s earning less but finding his new position as a defense contractor, with a role to play in helping the troops, more fulfilling.

  • How do I communicate my company’s mission and gain buy-in from workers?
  • How can I help employees find a sense of purpose in their jobs? 

#2 Opportunity

Mancini, mentioned above, was among the millions of Americans who used time spent unemployed to acquire new training and credentials. He’s proof positive that Virginia workers don’t just want more, they want to reach higher, too.

  • How can I benefit from a pool of newly upskilled workers?
  • How can I tap into the desire for training and advancement to re-inspire your workforce?

#3 Balance

From frontline retail, restaurant, and healthcare staff to Zoomed-out office workers, burnout is an enduring issue. What’s more, pandemic conditions led many employees to reassess the time they spend away from home. Some are now eschewing long commutes and late nights in the office in favor of remote and hybrid schedules and other family-friendly accommodations.

  • How can I help employees regain equilibrium after 18 difficult months?
  • How can I collaborate with employees to improve their work/life balance? 

Conditions for SMB Success?

Small and mid-sized businesses frequently enjoy greater agility than their larger counterparts, a key advantage in a rapidly changing talent market. What’s more, smaller companies can be particularly effective at engaging employees and valuing each member of the team as an individual. Given what workers say they want in post-pandemic employment, Virginia’s SMBs may, therefore, find that other companies’ talent losses over the coming months become their gains. 

Do you agree?

Posted by Staff at 10:07 am

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