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How Employers Should Prepare For A Post-COVID Resignation Boom?

Date Published: June 22, 2021 | Last Updated:September 15, 2023 | By Hugo Britt
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Is your business experiencing a Post-COVID Resignation Boom?

Every employer should expect a natural “churn” when it comes to workers leaving the business. Employees feeling underappreciated, underpaid, or unmotivated in their current role are the most likely to jump ship and pursue new opportunities.

But things panned out a little differently in 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and the workforce was confronted with business closures, layoffs, furlough schemes, and redundancies, it became clear to workers that jumping ship would be a major risk.

Between March and April 2020, unemployment in the U.S. rose from 4.4% to 14.7% (the highest peak since the great depression), and in the second quarter of the year, the economy shrunk by 31.4%.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, no previous week in U.S. history had seen more than 695,000 people file for unemployment. But in the last week of March 2020, a staggering 6.9 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance.

This economic climate has led to an unusual situation wherein unhappy employees have chosen to bide their time and delay their resignation until the job market recovers. That time may be approaching very soon.

Economic recovery could motivate workers to look for new jobs

As of January 2021, just 12.4 million of the 22.2 million jobs lost last year had been recovered. But some economists believe the U.S. is on the cusp of the biggest boom since the Reagan years, partly thanks to stimulus spending by the Trump and Biden administrations.

With the chaos inflicted by COVID-19 finally subsiding and economic recovery in sight, a wave of employees, who had no choice but to put their career plans on hold last year, might seize this opportunity to resign.

Economic recovery isn’t the only factor expected to trigger a post-COVID resignation boom. Other drivers include:

  • Employee burnout – In 2020, employees were confronted with a sudden shift to remote working, while attempting to cope with the stresses and pressures of a global pandemic. Increased workloads, changing business priorities, fear of unemployment, health concerns, and isolation have each contributed to a decline in employee mental health and led many to burnout.
  • “COVID epiphany” – Life-changing or traumatic events often inspire new levels of introspection. Many employees are re-evaluating their purpose in life and will seek to prioritize work-life balance post-COVID-19.
  • Flexible working – Remote working gave employees the flexibility and autonomy to manage their own work schedules. They saved time and money on their daily commutes, arranged meetings around their family’s schedules, and spent their lunch break cooking, gardening, or doing yoga from the comfort of their own homes. Anyone who has valued these freedoms in the past 18 months will be extremely reluctant to return to office life full-time.

Three ways to prepare for a post-COVID resignation boom

1. Double down on your retention efforts

There are several retention strategies you can implement to encourage your top talent to stay.

  • Flexible working options – This should include giving employees the option to work remotely and to their preferred schedule.
  • Additional holiday days – Or similar perks that show appreciation for your employees.
  • Remote working resources – If your employees will continue to work remotely post-COVID-19, they may require additional home office equipment, such as office chairs, desks, and technology. Consider allocating funding for this to enable employees to purchase what they need.
  • Regular check-ins – Your employees might be feeling overwhelmed, overworked, lonely, and isolated at this time. It’s important to be supportive and demonstrate your organization’s commitment to prioritizing their mental health and wellbeing.
  • Open and honest communication – In a year that has already brought so much disruption and uncertainty, employees want clarity and honesty from their employer. Be transparent about the organization’s long-term plans for post-COVID recovery, including flexible working options and any plans to downsize or restructure the business.
  • Listen – Ask your employees what they want, how they’re feeling, and their biggest concerns about the future. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to provide reassurance and meet some of their demands.
  • Career progression – Some workers may feel as though their long-term career goals were pushed aside so their employer could focus on business survival. But as the economy recovers, employees will expect to advance on their career journeys. This is especially true for the most ambitious and driven in your workforce.

2. Invest time and money in talent attraction

If some of the most talented, motivated, and ambitious workers in the U.S. are preparing to quit their jobs in the coming months, this is your opportunity to snap up the best of them.

Some effective attraction strategies include:

  • Virtual recruitment days – Give prospective candidates a taste of working life at your organization. This might include fireside chats with a member of the leadership team, Q&As with existing employees, or a virtual tour of the workplace.
  • Update your website careers page – Most workplaces have changed a lot since the outbreak of COVID-19. Make sure you’ve updated your company website so the information reflects your latest business goals, priorities, and company culture. For example, candidates will be on the lookout for employers that prioritize employee wellbeing and have flexible working options.
  • Communicate via social media – If you’re on the lookout for new top talent, you’ll want to spread the message far and wide. Keep your social media channels up-to-date with the latest information about job openings and encourage your existing workforce to share your posts.
  • Showcase your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion –There’s no doubt that diverse teams outperform homogenous ones, which means attracting top talent and attracting diverse talent are one and the same. But people from marginalized groups don’t want to work for organizations that haven’t set meaningful goals for improving equity and inclusion. Similarly, employees increasingly care about issues like sustainability. If your brand is only paying lip service to these issues, candidates will look for employment elsewhere.

3. Streamline your recruitment processes

With a resignation boom looming, your organization mustn’t be dependent on outdated, clunky, or time-consuming recruitment and onboarding processes.

Today, there is a wealth of intelligent HR and recruitment technology on the market that can streamline these processes, drive efficiency, eliminate tedious manual tasks, and improve the candidate experience.

There are AI tools that leverage machine learning or predictive algorithms to quickly process thousands of applications or create job descriptions. Meanwhile, chatbots can be employed to manage candidate FAQs, schedule interviews and assessments, or send out automated emails. Automation can also be used to track applicants and onboard and monitor new hires.

The shift to remote work was accompanied by a shift to remote interviewing. If your organization is yet to invest in good quality video conferencing software, this is an absolute must. Video interviewing further simplifies and streamlines the recruitment process, making it easier to schedule interviews and provide candidates with a fair and consistent recruitment process.

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