Challenges for employers in retaining and attracting talent in the time of the ‘great resignation’ - Sarah Jackman

In many respects, the pandemic transformed both attitudes to how we work and our career aspirations.

Sarah Jackman
Sarah Jackman

As employers continue to strive to articulate their post-pandemic employee proposition, many employees are deciding it is time for a change. Whether that means a move to a completely new role in a different sector, becoming self-employed, or taking early retirement, the result has been referred to as the ‘great resignation’. This, in essence, stems from employees being more willing to look for and take on new opportunities.

The wave of resignations, and subsequent difficulty in recruiting to fill vacancies, means employers are reviewing how they attract and retain talent. Among the areas being looked at by employers, in a bid to be more forward-thinking and responsive, are the benefits they provide and how to enhance them, as well as what they can do to appeal to a multi-generational workforce.

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We need to recognise that everyone, from people starting their careers in their 20's to those who have built up decades of experience, has value to offer. It also has to be acknowledged that individuals’ needs in terms of job satisfaction and fulfilment can be very different.

As a result, employers are adapting how they approach their employee offering. This includes greater attention to employee wellbeing; implementing ESG considerations into HR policies; and an increased focus on support at different phases of life, for example for those experiencing the menopause and fertility concerns.

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Organisations are striving to articulate their purpose in a way that speaks to individuals and gives employees confidence that they are working for a values-led business.

Other steps include employers introducing ‘wellbeing days’ on top of holidays, or introducing ‘inclusive bank holiday’. And as dog ownership soared during lockdown, some companies are now trialling ‘bring your dog to work’ days or arranging visits from therapy dogs. Some companies are offering generous paid leave for parenting purposes, beyond maternity or paternity leave, a four-day week on full pay, carers’ leave, and more private medical care.

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At the same time, many employers are still endeavouring to make attending the office attractive: sweets, fruits and good coffee are all seen as ways to lure people back to collaborate with colleagues and rejuvenate a team spirit. Some are exploring whether, rather than treating the workplace as a location, the focus can now be on how to use it as a tool for work, with the digital world being the new place of work. Many are still struggling with how to ensure all attendees at hybrid meetings can contribute, regardless of whether they are there in person or virtually.

And employers are keen to have their initiatives recognised in a bid to reach out to potential recruits, with many sharing their good news stories and perks on social media. This is often on channels that appeal more to younger generations, such as TikTok, rather than just through the more corporate LinkedIn.

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The headlines about the economy may cause a slowdown of the ‘great resignation’, but we are still going to see employers looking at increasingly innovative ways to bring the best people into their business – and keep them there.

Sarah Jackman, counsel at Dentons law firm

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