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Surviving The Resignation Tsunami ‒ Three Surefire Actions To Win And Retain Talent

Written by: Karen Brown, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do a Google search on “tsunami” and you’ll see some amazing images. It’s not only a wave of huge proportions, but also a series of extremely long waves. Tsunamis can reach heights of more than 100 feet and cause widespread destruction when they slam onto shore.

We are undoubtedly amid a talent tsunami that shows no indication of ebbing soon. The Great Resignation is creating wave after wave of destruction – in the form of disengaged employees, stress, burnout, and departures. In October 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 4.3 million Americans, or 2.9% of the entire workforce, quit their jobs in August of that year. This record-breaking month topped a series of previous, record-breaking months. Almost all industries are experiencing the exodus. According to a recent survey, 55% of the overall U.S. workforce and 72% of those in tech/IT roles are considering leaving their jobs in the next year.

The reality is that it is not a talent issue; it is a workplace issue. How do you win the war for talent? Focus on your environment and your culture. Where do you start? With your leaders. Leaders set the tone, create the environment, and sustain the culture. They build rapport, facilitate employee engagement, initiate relationships, and offer the recognition and praise that cultivates loyalty.

Winning the war for talent boils down to three simple yet critical urgencies:

  • Keep the best

  • Get the best

  • Build better

1. To Keep the Best, Prioritize Employee Growth

At their core, people want to make a difference, working for a company that shares their same values. Being their best and making the greatest impact requires continuous development, exploration of new ideas, learning new skills, and growing as a person and leader – which requires a company committed to investing in its employees’ future.

Companies that attract and retain top-performing candidates have processes and initiatives in place that support professional development, growth, and fulfillment. With that in mind, what steps can you take?

Reprioritize Professional Development

When the pandemic hit, most companies cut back on professional development efforts. As the crisis continues to subside, the need to provide opportunities for learning and growth increases. Professional and personal fulfillment is near the top of the list for job searchers, who are prioritizing their health and wellbeing. 80% see career growth as a major contributor to their overall satisfaction, and 9 in 10 tech workers want more learning and development opportunities from their companies, and 62% say these opportunities would increase their motivation at work. Investment in employee growth, including a path to success within the company, results in a more satisfied and loyal workforce.

Emphasize Growth Tracks and Develop the People at the Top

Identifying the competencies of top leaders ‒ and matching them with roles in which they can excel - can amplify their satisfaction and loyalty. Pinpoint the skills and behaviors needed to be successful in your company, then break those out for each role and growth track. Follow with 360-degree evaluations that identify skill and behavioral gaps, as well as blind spots. Provide developmental coaching and skills training to fill the gaps. Continual development of your senior team’s competencies, and those of employees who show potential for higher levels of leadership, will pay dividends to your company’s growth and help retain a top talent bench.

2. To Hire the Best, Create a Standout Recruitment Process

70% of workers report that they will stay with a company for more than three years if their application and interview experience is a positive one. With a tight labor market and many companies vying for their attention, job seekers are more likely to apply to those that can deliver positive experiences. And they are more likely to recommend such companies to their contacts.

This is a particularly crucial point when you consider that The Great Resignation isn’t over. In fact, a Gartner report forecasts annual employee turnover in 2022 will exceed pre-pandemic levels by nearly 20%. This puts a strain on HR departments, many of which are short-staffed and overworked already. Add to that the fact that according to a Gallup poll, employees expect more out of their jobs than ever before, including:

  • A significant increase in pay and benefits

  • Greater work-life balance and personal wellbeing

  • The ability to do what they do best

  • Greater stability and job security

  • COVID vaccination and work from home policies that align with their beliefs

  • A diverse and inclusive organization

With fewer resources – and greater demands from potential employees ‒ the danger is that companies could fall back on old, less effective hiring tactics at a time when it’s critical to do just the opposite: improve and refine their processes. In this difficult situation, it’s important to make every action count and focus on what is most effective, such as:

  • Having an “always looking for talent” mindset, rather than a “replacing departures” approach. Starting from a positive place positions a company to create a positive experience.

  • Responding quickly. Fast turnaround time makes applicants feel valued—even if they don’t get the job.

  • Being clear about the process internally and externally. Describe how the process ensures a pleasant experience for applicants. The expectation of a positive experience makes potential applicants more apt to apply and makes your company more appealing from the outset.

3. Hire for the Culture You Want to Build

Companies are known for the cultures they create. When they clearly define their vision, they can hire strategically to support it. This helps focus hiring efforts, attract the best-fit candidates, and improve overall company performance. In a Deloitte survey, 79% of respondents said that a sense of belonging within the workforce was important to their organization’s success over the following 12 to 18 months.

Additionally, a 2019 Deloitte study indicated that a feeling of belonging at work can improve job performance by 56%, reduce turnover risk by 50%, and decrease sick days by 75%. So, how can you create an exceptional company culture?

Prioritize DEI

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are critical aspects of a culture of belonging that will attract top candidates. Companies that prioritize DEI cultivate workplaces in which each individual feels respected and treated fairly, regardless of their racial or lifestyle identities. An environment that promises safety, respect, equitable pay, and opportunity for all – which has previously been undervalued – will appeal to a diverse pool of candidates. Incorporating different perspectives fosters thought innovation, and research shows that within an inclusive environment, 83% of millennials are found to be actively engaged in their work. Millennials are the generation that will succeed retiring senior leaders, so it’s important to focus on the things that cause them to engage and thrive.

Ask Better Questions

Ask questions of candidates about how they learn. This can help those doing the hiring understand their potential for growth and ability to contribute to the company’s aspirations for their culture. Return to this topic throughout the hiring process to get a complete picture of the candidate’s potential to grow beyond their current abilities.

Look in the Right Places

To find potential applicants, tap into company alumni associations or connect with past employees who left on good terms. Many companies have large alumni associations in which current employees are enrolled (Booz Allen Hamilton is perhaps the best-in-class at this). Upon departure, they become great ambassadors for the company and can then be tapped when roles open up that may interest them. Use LinkedIn or company HR records to set up these connections.

In the current job landscape, hiring and retaining high-performing employees is a genuine challenge. But an effective and efficient focus of efforts will reward your organization with top-notch employees who are loyal and active contributors to its success. What’s more, you’ll create a different type of tsunami – one that delivers scores of talented employees and potential leaders to your door.

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Karen Brown, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Karen Brown is the Founder and CEO of Exponential Results. She draws on 30 years of success as a corporate executive with over 20,000 hours of senior executive coaching experience. Years ago, Ms. Brown discovered the key to greater performance and effectiveness: identifying and addressing blind spots – the repeated thinking patterns that impede success. Using a professional coach and science-based methodologies of how our minds work, she busted through her own blind spots to achieve astounding results. Her discovery led to the creation of Exponential Results’ proprietary Power Pathways™ method, based in neuroscience. She’s also a focused athlete, having competed, as an amateur, in the Ironman World Championship.



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