A July 2021 Gartner survey of 572 organizations found that 48% of respondents had significant concerns about mass turnover events, particularly as vaccine mandates and on-site work policies evolve.
“While organizations are competing with peers for talent, they are also contending with changing employee lifestyle preferences and ambitions,” said Piers Hudson, senior director in the Gartner HR practice. “Our research revealed 65% of employees report that the pandemic has made them rethink the role of work in their lives.”
Evolving employee preferences are significantly influencing talent acquisition and retention outcomes. According to Gartner surveys, time to fill a role increased by 18% from 2020 to 2021. This translated to an additional two weeks to fill a position, leading to lost productivity, more offer rejections and overwhelming recruiting workloads. Mass turnover risks threaten organizations with shutdowns instead of slowdowns.
“Today’s war for talent is not only impacting all talent segments, but there is unprecedented demand and turnover happening at the same time,” said Jamie Kohn, director in the Gartner HR practice.
HR must partner with executive leaders to manage future talent risks while addressing workflow risks. HR leaders should spearhead the development of a talent management strategy that differentiates their organization based on four principles:
Focus on business continuity threats, not just talent gaps
Talent risks are appearing throughout the enterprise. Previously useful measures, such as sizing gaps for critical talent segments, no longer accurately predict today’s talent risks.
Identifying critical workflows, not just critical workers, is the first step in sizing threats to business continuity. Attrition among employees who are involved in critical workflows creates the biggest threat to business continuity.
To gauge the ability to replace lost talent quickly, HR must determine how the organization can fully leverage existing internal talent while monitoring the external availability of talent that can meet skills needs.
Adopt a new approach to mass turnover by changing the work to be done
Sixty-seven percent of respondents to a Gartner survey of nearly 250 recruiting staff from August through September of 2021 reported it is harder to manage requisition volumes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, demand for recruiters has more than doubled since before the pandemic. Rather than relying on recruiting to backfill empty positions, HR needs to collaborate with executive leaders to reprioritize work and expand options for getting it done.
Some companies are bringing functions together to create shared goals and a combined backlog for which they share resources. Other organizations are addressing potential turnover by leveraging internal mobility to redeploy talent based on critical tasks.
“Some employers are expanding their use of alternate employment models and even using project-based rotations to get the skills they need,” said Kohn. “This approach helps organizations respond to changing needs better than those that default to only hiring full-time employees.”
Counter compensation increases by differentiating the Employee Value Proposition
Most organizations can’t afford to match significant compensation increases for all the employees they want to retain. Organizations typically address Employee Value Proposition (EVP) shortfalls through small, targeted adjustments; today, organizations need to make bold, systemic changes that dramatically shift the value created for employees.
To transform their EVP, employers can consider offering new benefits that apply to the entire workforce, not just certain roles, and connect directly to the organization’s values.
Organizations are experimenting with other EVP changes, including:
–Paying employees with more time via guaranteed maximum workloads or reduced hours.
–Expanding opportunities for employees by lowering promotion requirements for senior roles and offering development beyond their current role.
–Opening additional talent pools by evaluating candidates based on potential, cutting credentials such as education, industry experience or criminal record.
“Leaders can pull several levers to increase the value they provide employees, including offering more money, more time or more opportunity,” said Hudson.
Attract and retain talent by tailoring the EVP around lives instead of careers
Employees today expect organizations to support them holistically – through emotional and mental well-being, connections to family, personal growth, autonomy in their work and a sense of shared purpose. To meet these expectations, HR leaders must help their organizations reassess, and in most cases, redesign their EVP.
Leading with authenticity is critical for employers to capture an immediate benefit from changes made to the EVP. This includes acknowledging negative experiences employees encounter and plans to mitigate those pain points. Employers also need an authentic understanding of their employees – identifying employees’ interests beyond those related to their current job and their holistic well-being needs – to tailor their EVP effectively.