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Stemming the tide of the Great Resignation, with Steve Mair

Millions of US workers are resigning from their jobs in a phenomenon that’s being referred to as the “Great Resignation.” A variety of reasons have been cited for this exodus, ranging from the effects of long-term lockdown giving people more clarity on their future, to disgruntlement over poor working conditions and lack of flexibility. And while this is currently a very US-centric issue, the trend looks set to spread globally. Organizations will need to get ahead of these problems if they don’t want to experience mass attrition. But how do you plan for this?

Well, we were delighted to be joined by Steve Mair, the Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Procore on a recent episode of The Shortlist to discuss this very topic. From the importance of skills-based hiring to leadership training, Steve gave us excellent advice on stemming this tide of resignation.

The Great Resignation

Is it actually the great discontent?

There have been a multitude of classifications for this intense cycle of abnormality. But one thing people agree on is that The Great Resignation is unprecedented. “I have never seen a market like this,” Steve told us, “if you had said this to me two years ago, it would have been unfathomable.” People have had a LONG time to reprioritize since the outbreak of the pandemic – never has such a gap been afforded to so many. This opportunity to evaluate life and decide on what is important has seen workers “not just go from job A to B, but from job A to L.” Massive career changes have been on the cards. As well as people just giving up work with no real next step lined up.

There has been a paradigm shift,” Steve tells us. COVID has changed how we evaluate work. And it’s apparent at all levels. With over two-million extra people retiring this year, it’s left a vacuum in senior leadership roles too. This has massive knock-on effects with promotions happening that supersede ability and experience. But people are restless, and they want change. PWC data has even indicated that 65% of Americans are actively looking for new roles. Johnny Campbell, SocialTalent’s CEO, has said this mirrors data that when employees have time off (be that weekends, national holidays, etc.) job search activity goes up. We’ve just had 18 months of remote work and disruption – is it any wonder that people are resigning in droves?

Skills-based hiring

But how do we start addressing this surge in open roles and job vacancies? According to Steve, the only way to reactively attack this is through the “brute force model” of simply adding to your recruitment teams. You have to amplify your TA function, otherwise your current teams will burnout and the cycle will just continue. There are consequences to this though, and it was seen in July when a LinkedIn post showed that there were more job postings for recruiters (364,970) then there were for software engineers (342,586). It was an astonishing find and one that only reinforces how mass hiring simply isn’t sustainable. You must be more strategic than this.

The alternative Steve proposes revolves around a long-term approach that leans into skills-based hiring. Whether it’s the creation of recruiter academies or investment in training, this concept looks to upskill and retrain people from entirely different sectors to become sourcers and recruiters. By focusing on the core mechanics of the roles, it opens new possibilities for developing and scaling your own talent. Steve mentioned that a company in San Francisco recently bought a 50-person search firm to cope with this current crisis. This isn’t something that most businesses can do, so you have to get creative and proactive in your talent acquisition.

The Great Resignation

The leadership factor

The Great Resignation has also shown us how important good leaders and managers are. A recent Gallup article pointed out that to lure away a candidate who feels engaged, it would require a 20% pay increase. For a disengaged employee? Next to nothing. According to Steve, the companies that are going to succeed beyond this situation are those that focus on leadership development. Good managers and executives understand that talent has a say. They are fully on-board and accountable in both the hiring and engagement of employees. Especially as we move to a more distributed workforce. People really value the relationship they have with a company and how they are treated. This will play a big factor in both retention and attraction. Managers must be equipped with the skills and support required to nurture and develop their teams if organizations don’t want to have an ever-growing leak of attrition.

The final word

Steve has seen many organizations hold on to this mantra of “when we get back to normal.” But the truth of the situation is, there is no such thing as back to normal. We are altered since the pandemic and companies need to understand that the people-centric approach to hiring and developing staff isn’t going anywhere. The Great Resignation hints at the dissatisfaction and desire for change that employees are grappling with. And, according to Steve, “it’s going to be challenging across the globe and it’s not short term.” Organizations need to look internally at their own processes and functions if they are going to have any chance of stemming this tide.

Want to catch Steve’s full appearance on The Shortlist? Click the link or watch below!

Looking for more information about hiring during The Great Resignation? Our online leadership event, SocialTalent Live, is back on November 18th and will deal directly with this topic. Sign-up today!



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