Follow the Leaders
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs) is a nonprofit organization connecting CEOs for learning and growth. Formed more than 20 years ago, member benefits include placement in a peer roundtable group and access to a thought leader network, and a robust program of events for learning and growth. This is not a networking group, but rather a group of CEO peers who are invested in the success of each member. To qualify for membership CEOs must run a business with $1M+ revenue and 5+FTEs. Learn more at www.vaceos.org.