Hiring and Retention: Two of the utmost concerns for employers in the U.S., even more so in 2021 when the labor market is seeing historical highs in job openings and voluntary departures, or “quits”.
In September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported there were 10.4 million job openings and 4.4 million workers reportedly quit their jobs — marking this period as “The Great Resignation”.
Why are MILLIONS of people leaving their jobs?
The COVID-19 Pandemic played a large role in this labor movement:
In a recent Pew Research Report, by September 2021, 50.3% of U.S. adults 55 and older are considered retired—a 2.3 % increase from Sept. 2019. Many who left in the midst of the pandemic cited higher housing values and stock investments put them in a stable financial situation, which allowed them to retire early rather than risk being exposed to COVID-19 at work or being laid off.
Another significant population… 300,000 women left their jobs in September, citing lack of childcare as their primary reason for quitting. Emily Martin of the National Women’s Law Center said, “Because there’s still a lack of available childcare and some schools haven’t re-started their after-school programs yet … all of that, I suspect, is why we see September as a moment when women feel like they just can’t balance childcare and work anymore.”
Others who left their jobs are seeing there are more available, and possibly better, employment options elsewhere. Julia Pollak, the chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told USA Today, “There are now about 50% more job openings than there were before the pandemic. Someone who was passively looking for a new job before might have seen five or six job postings that are relevant. Now they’re seeing 10 or more. There are just more attractive alternatives.”
Manufacturing employers who participated in PwC’s “Future of Work” survey said among the reasons for workers leaving include better wages or salaries (41%) elsewhere, personal issues (28%) and that the work is not fulfilling or aligned with their values and passions (24%).
What do job seekers look for in their next job?
Anthony Klotz, the Texas A&M Business Professor who coined the term “The Great Resignation”, said pandemic-related epiphanies caused many people to evaluate if their work is aligned with their lifestyle preference and long-term career trajectories, “During the pandemic, a lot of us have spent time doing different things, whether with family or hobbies. And I think a lot of people now realize, ‘I’m more than just my job.’”
In PwC’s “Future of Work” report, 65% of 1,000 people who participated in the survey said that they are actively looking for new jobs. The primary factors that are motivating them to move include:
- Flexible Work Schedules (38%)
- Better Wages (38)
- Expanded Benefits, particularly for career-growth training and upskilling (38%)
- Remote or Hybrid Work Arrangement (28%)
What are employers doing to meet these issues?
The limited pool of available talents is forcing businesses to make permanent changes to their operations to retain and hire more competitively.
Manufacturing employers who participated in the PwC survey said within the next 12-18 months, they plan to implement the following changes:
- 38% said they will offer schedule flexibility for those who wish to work outside of regular business hours or on a part-time basis.
- 39% said they will make compensation changes that include higher base pay, retention bonuses, and signing bonuses for new hires)
- 31% said they will provide expanded career development opportunities such as training for accelerated progression, internal mobility and upskilling apprenticeships.
- 44% said they will offer hybrid/remote work arrangements, though those arrangements could only be for a small percentage of their workforce who will be able to do their work outside of the manufacturing facilities.
In summary, to attract and retain workers, employers need to pivot from pre-pandemic work structures and provide tangible offerings that meet employees’ personal motivations.
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