The pandemic came suddenly and unexpectedly in early 2020 and its impact has been undeniable, on our economy at nearly every level and nearly every person globally in some way or form. There was a time when no one was certain how bad it would get or how long it would last.  The rapidly changing business environment and uncertainties forced leaders to focus on the basics, keeping their business afloat and people employed. Business owners and executives concentrated on the external threats to their businesses, quickly adjusting their marketing and sales strategies to generate revenues. 

Today, every business owner, leader and employee is more than ready to have this all be over, but sadly the “end” is still not yet in sight. We still do not know what the ‘new normal’ will look like but what we do know is it has perhaps revolutionized how employees get work done, their priorities and expectations. So while business owners and leaders were focused on external threats, most failed to notice a growing internal threat, huge shifts in employee mindsets. Now business leaders all over the country in every industry are reacting, desperately trying to figure out what they can do to retain talent and hire to replace those leaving for ‘greener grasses.’

It is not the employer’s fault they had to adapt quickly to reduce costs, adopt new marketing methods and shift to a remote work environment but the consequences are real and being felt now. Most had to move so quickly and focus on the logistics of it all, they failed to develop a clear path for managing employee engagement, communication, and hybrid work from home policies. With more time at home to think about their careers and less connection to their co-workers, loyalty, morale, and job security eroded and thus began The Great Resignation. This was an event where employees no longer felt connected to their role and company and have left both in droves, even without the prospect of new employment.

This has been seen in every industry and has just recently even affected areas never thought to be understaffed like airports. For instance, the Denver Airport is desperate to find staff to fill their shops and stores within the terminals.   

Around 20% of employees in the US appear to have changed their roles in the past year, while another 25% are getting ready to join them. The largest workforce is composed of the Millennial generation with nearly 33% of them planning to look for a new role even in their prime time of maximizing career growth! This means simply focusing on their career is no longer resonating with them. It’s not just Millennials. Even 25% of Gen-Xers and 10% of Boomers are considering changing their roles as well. With the latter approaching retirement age, a lot of talent and experience will be lost as many Boomers are expected to just retire early.

What do leaders need to do to survive and thrive in this new revolution in the workforce? They must focus inward as much as outward… attracting, developing, and retaining talented employees by becoming an employer of choice.

The traditional method of attracting and retaining talent was focused on compensation and money-related benefits like robust health insurance and bonuses. Becoming an employer of choice today requires a more flexible work environment.  For instance, employers are needing to develop hybrid remote work policies, flexible schedules and clearer career paths within the organization where employees feel their roles have a meaningful impact on the company’s mission and bottom line. To compete for talent, leadership must develop skills like appreciative inquiry to create a high-performing culture that satisfies the need to belong to something bigger. Compensation has become table steaks for top talent. Leadership, culture and a flexible work environment are now the differentiators for attracting and retaining top talent.

It’s a brave new world, and we’re going to get through it. If you would like some perspective and ideas for attracting, developing, and retaining top talent in your organization or leading to grow your business through these challenging times, click the button below and let’s have a conversation. I’m passionate about helping businesses go beyond survival to thrive.