The so-called “Great Resignation” has produced one of the tightest job markets in recent history, giving workers an upper hand in hiring and forcing employers to drastically increase wages and benefits to attract talent and retain their staff. The most recent data from the Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) revealed that 4.4 million Americans left their jobs during the month of April, indicating that the trend is far from over. As firms struggle to hire new talent from a limited pool of workers, they are also finding difficulty retaining existing employees—leading to a “Great Rotation” in which we see the country’s workforce actively switching to employers who can meet increasing demands for improved benefits, worklife balance, and a workplace culture of wellness and belonging.
In this challenging environment, companies can retain and expand their workforce by implementing strategic policies that workers want – and they may have to in order to win the war for talent.
Research from Randstad USA demonstrates that people are looking for three main attributes in a job: purpose, belonging, and flexibility. One attribute that has risen to the top of the list is purpose, as workers want their company’s values to align with their personal ones. For example, forty-four percent of American workers surveyed wouldn’t accept a job with a business that doesn’t align with their values on social issues. Fortyone percent of American workers also reported that they wouldn’t mind earning less money if they felt that their job was positively contributing to society. This sentiment resonated with workers aged 18-24 in particular, with 26% of the age group strongly agreeing with this statement.
People also want to have flexibility in when they work, where they work, and how they do their work. Remote working in the United States has decreased from 59% in 2021 to 46% in 2022. For a quarter of the workforce, working remotely is either not allowed or jobs require workers to be bound to the premises.
"It is critical that companies promote a culture of wellness and belonging within every level of their organization"
This conflicts directly with what workers desire. Recent data from Randstad’s Workmonitor survey revealed that 83% of all respondents would like flexible working hours, and another three-quarters (71%) of workers think that flexibility in terms of location is important. Furthermore, nearly three-in-five workers under the age of 35 (58%) wouldn’t accept a job if they thought it would negatively affect their work-life balance.
So, what can companies offer to current and prospective workers? First, consider adding high-quality benefits if wage increases are not an option. One specific benefit growing in demand is childcare – while many women cite this as a top priority, only 9% of American companies offer childcare stipends or benefits. Given that the labor participation rate for women is up to just over 56%, which is still down from the pre-pandemic level of 58%, companies must do more to attract this demographic back into the workforce. Offering more extensive benefits in this area would therefore lower the costs of going to work—and serve to drive greater participation in the workforce.
Another benefit growing in demand among American workers are professional development opportunities. Most workers (58%) have reported that they need more training and professional development to stay relevant in today’s changing labor market. In order to retain more workers, opportunities for reskilling, retraining and other forms of professional development should be distributed equitably and with work-life balance in mind. Managers should work with their employees to create individual career development plans and ensure they have enough time to complete the desired opportunity.
Second, to facilitate greater work-life balance, companies should offer more flexibility for employees. This could be in the form of remote or hybrid working arrangements, as well as flexible schedules. A flexible schedule—in which employees work a full shift for the day, but at their preferred start and end times—has been shown to boost both morale and productivity. It can also help retain valued employees whose personal schedules have shifted, and who may have otherwise been forced to find a more accommodating job.
Finally, it is critical that companies promote a culture of wellness and belonging within every level of their organization— something that has become a strategic priority during the pandemic and will continue to be top of mind for workers. Data from Randstad has found that forty-one percent of workers have been offered new health and wellnessfocused benefits by their employers during COVID-19. Among them, flexible work hours were most prevalent (20%), followed by general health and wellness benefits (14%) and mental health assistance (12%). Employers should also encourage the use of paid time off to further promote the idea of a healthy work-life balance.
As the Great Rotation continues to create hiring and retention challenges, companies would be wise to ensure that they are actively addressing the issues prompting workers to leave their jobs, fostering workplace environments where all workers feel welcome and taking the needs and wants of employees into consideration. By improving diversity and inclusion, allowing more flexibility, and encouraging a positive worklife balance, companies can improve their retention rates and tap into new talent pools, all while remaining competitive in this unprecedented labor market.