Employers agree: The Great Resignation is a ‘real, present’ danger

After 18 months and counting, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a serious threat to a strong and sustained labor market recovery. And a new survey from job site Indeed found employers remain uneasy about whether there will be a turnaround in that unwelcome trend any time soon.

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The most recent employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the supply of jobless workers currently looking for a job is well outstripped by employer demand: In July, there were 83 unemployed workers for every 100 job openings–a ratio last seen in December 2019. To make things worse for employers seeking to fill these vacant positions, millions of Americans are quitting their jobs each month in what has been dubbed the Great Resignation.

In its survey on the topic, Indeed polled 750 recruiters, managers and decision-makers from diverse industries across the U.S. Among other results, a staggering 74% of those surveyed believe the Great Resignation is a “real and present” issue, with a significant 41% of employers fearing that resignations will remain unusually high well into the future.

Also key among the findings was that 73% of respondents are struggling to hire and retain workers (only 5% are experiencing the opposite).

According to Maggie Hulce, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise at Indeed, employers need to understand what could be at the heart of their workers heading toward the exit. The survey found that employers report their workers’ top five priorities are: higher pay (59%), schedule flexibility (58%), better work/life balance (56%), remote work options (54%) and the ability to focus on personal and family responsibilities (50%).

Other significant findings include:

  • 85% of employers agree that the pandemic has altered beliefs about what constitutes a good job–and the number rises to an eye-opening 96% of respondents in hospitality and tourism. In that sector, 80% of employers have observed a recent uptick in resignations.
  • 86% of respondents believe employers need to take action now to reduce further churn.
  • 76% say resignations are contagious–once a few employees resign, others typically follow.
  • 86% of employers say they should be more worried about resignation now than in past.
  • 51% percent of those surveyed believe their companies’ handling of the pandemic resulted in later resignations, and the number jumps to 64% in hospitality and tourism.

Related: How DEI, the Great Resignation are changing benefits

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has led workers to rethink their careers and priorities,” Hulce says. “Our survey shows employers increasingly realize that to retain existing talent and attract new talent, they need to adapt to better meet these new priorities.”

“On Indeed,” she adds, “we see this realization coming to life as employers proactively highlight benefits like increased flexibility, higher pay or signing bonuses, and remote work options in both job postings and employer branding materials.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].