Millions of people are leaving their jobs every month, and there is no sign of this epochal movement slowing anytime soon.
Dubbed ‘the Great Resignation’, the wave of people who have changed roles or otherwise exited the workforce since the pandemic began could result in one fifth of the global workforce quitting their jobs in 2022, the largest study of its kind recently found. Last year, 47.8 million US workers left their jobs at an average of nearly 4 million each month, while in the first half of 2022 that number rose to an average of almost 4.5 million per month.
In the UK, a third of all workers are considering a career change, according to multiple surveys, while Deutsche Bank analysis reveals British workers are leaving in numbers not seen since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
How long the trend will last is up for debate, but some researchers believe the mass exodus isn’t a short-term reaction to a huge economic jolt but instead the continuation of a pattern that had been building for several years. Either way, businesses have to change their approach to resourcing in order to attract and retain talent regardless of how the Great Resignation plays out.
Revamping employee retention strategies
Most people move to earn a better salary, yet two-thirds of respondents to PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey are seeking more fulfilment in the workplace. Nearly half (47%) prioritise being able to choose where they work, while huge numbers say they want a more fulfilling job and the ability to truly be themselves at work.
We have observed similar trends in the finance and technology sectors.
“The companies who are flexible, not too prescriptive with office attendance and are happy for people to work from home, are generally attracting higher quality talent,” said David Hammel, UK managing director of SystemsAccountants. “Those who are being tougher, making demands on physical attendance at the office, are losing out on the best specialists in the market. People want more of a work-life balance.”
Experts believe that empowering staff and giving them a sense of purpose builds strong bonds that foster loyalty in return. While pay is important, workers increasingly want more freedom and meaning from their jobs, which should be factored into modern employee retention strategies.
On a more practical level, losing a member of staff also means losing experience and knowledge that cannot be handed down. It takes time to replace those skills, and costs, which can range from one and a half to two times the individual’s salary.
Reboot your talent acquisition strategy
Hiring the best was tough enough in finance and accounting prior to the Great Resignation, due to the ongoing skills shortage, but things are even tighter in the market now. Competition for talent is fierce, and employers are having to find innovative ways to attract and retain people who can truly help the business.
CFOs are not immune to the changing nature of the workforce given the evolution of their own role in recent decades. It is a vastly different proposition today, having grown from a strictly numbers-focused job to a fundamental leadership position that connects various parts of a company beyond finance, from HR to IT, sales, marketing, manufacturing, risk and compliance.
The shift in what is expected of a CFO has impacted what a CFO needs when building a team. Finance departments are increasingly automated, and so data analytics skills, data-driven decision making, and the use of intelligent tools to navigate the business through turbulence are at a premium.
“Business leaders really need to think carefully about their talent acquisition strategy along with employee retention,” said Hammel. “Some businesses have been forthright with their stance on remote working, for example, but it pays to listen to all sides; some people still want the social interaction of the office. They want to be in a place where they can share ideas and collaborate. It’s really about building a culture of trust, integrity and openness, whether that is remote or not.”
Attracting and retaining talented employees
The battle for talent has made attracting and retaining key personnel of central importance to business growth, and businesses are having to be creative in how they manage resourcing.
Workers with specialised skills are in high demand amid the Great Resignation, and the continuing tsunami of resignations, retirements and relocations confirms how aware of that dynamic employees are.
PwC’s study of workplace sentiment found skilled employees are most likely to ask for promotions and pay raises, and this group also feels appreciated by management, while those lacking skills also lack power in the workplace.
More positive for employers is the feeling that improving the culture of the business, offering more training and opportunities for advancement and growth, and generally making companies nicer places to work may have a greater long term impact than throwing money at a problem in the hope of a quick fix.