In the workplace: To outplay the ‘Great Resignation,’ employers must re-recruit

There is a talent exodus. The massive shift of unanticipated, record-breaking job departures dubbed the “Great Resignation” is forcing employers to take a long, hard look at what fulfilling work means and how to keep our teams happy.

Pandemic burnout is real, and talent is reassessing priorities as the world has opened. After the flexibility provided by remote work, we realized productivity isn’t confined to the boxes of the traditional workday. It is time to innovate and, to keep our best people, we absolutely have to “re-recruit” the talent we have on board.

We are never going back to “normal,” at least not the normalcy of pre-pandemic work life. And as employers, it’s essential to re-recruit our current talent by thinking outside the box and capturing their hearts and minds again.

1. Reconfigure non-work time

“Languishing” is the term for 2021’s stagnation, coined by Adam Grant in his noteworthy New York Times article earlier this year. What is the antidote to this void between depression and flourishing? How can we get back on track to loving what we do, feeling connected to a mission, and finding fulfillment in our work?

The pandemic showed that team members can handle more flexibility without producing less. Some employers are committing to a hard reset of explicit work/life boundaries, as well as innovating what a workweek can look like.

Training software company Lessonly instituted a company-wide, week-long “summer break.” Mandating time off, especially simultaneously, allows teams to recharge without the mental load of knowing projects are progressing while they’re out of office.

Advisa, a Carmel-based leadership consultancy, reshaped to a four-day workweek in efforts to evolve past “hustle culture,” following in the footsteps of giants like Microsoft and Unilever. Service Direct, an online advertising and technology company, took a similar route and instituted alternating four-day workweeks.

Other innovations, like results-based pay, sabbatical programs for long-term teammates, and unlimited paid time off, can be options to consider for showing your team you are listening to the needs of their lives.

Don’t stick to tradition arbitrarily. But if you truly need your teams in the office at regulated hours, be transparent about why, and find other incentives to offer. Meet them halfway.

2. Incubate talent.

While committing to rebalancing the work/life mindset is a start, the Great Resignation is full of roving talent who are seeking fresh opportunities to grow—outside of their current employer. To keep your people, how are you tapping into each person’s talent and potential outside the silo of a job role?

The Onin Group in Birmingham established an “Intrapreneur” program to allow employees to act as entrepreneurs and pursue their own business goals while still within the organization. They get a $150,000 investment from the company to build out an idea that benefits the company, and the creator retains 20% of the profits in perpetuity.

This is the time to reinvest in your team and draw out hidden talents. As a plus, you would be internally fostering your own incubator of innovation while supporting your employees’ search for growth.

3. Expand the work experience as a business priority.

At the 2021 Indiana SHRM conference, many sessions were focused on making work experience a business priority, to lessen burnout and encourage people to stay. How are we as employers leaning toward creating more emotional connections and experiences for our teams?

Post-pandemic life will require a rebuild of corporate culture. To infuse more joy into the workday, especially in a more remote era, we need to expand the experience. At Morales Group, we offer a home-build trip to those who complete a series of professional development and service hours with our not-for-profit partners.

Prioritizing personal wellness also contributes to the overall work experience. A local marketing agency began offering onsite counseling services to bolster mental health, and leaders were shocked at how many employees took advantage. Other companies are testing “no interruptions” policies for certain work hours to give teams focus time to make better forward movement on projects.

There are losses to moving on from “typical” work. But the advantages are not only innovative, they’re necessary. The employer’s role in the talent exodus is to adapt or get left behind.

A re-recruiting mindset allows you to see possibilities, not problems. Companies that transform their culture to give employees permission to be fully themselves and normalize life outside of work will be the ones that weather the storm and retain talent.•

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Seth Morales is CEO of Morales Group Staffing, a recruitment and staffing agency in Indianapolis.

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