“Recruitment starts with retention”: navigating the Great Resignation

Business Reporter talks to seven human resources experts about how organisations can ease their employees back into work and avoid mass resignations as life gets back to normal

The Great Resignation, The Great Reset, The Great Reshuffle – there’s been a myriad of terms used over the last few weeks to describe the mass exodus of employers leaving their jobs across industries, and to predict what’s next for the tumultuous job market.

In the third quarter of the year alone nearly 400,000 Britons moved from one job to another after handing in their notice, the highest-ever recorded level. With masses of workers looking for new opportunities, many are worried of the implication this will have on remaining staff and the already widening skills gap. Indeed, with recent research showing that 76 percent of IT decision makers worldwide are currently facing critical skills gaps in their departments, organisations cannot afford to lose valuable talent.

As we embark on a new year, and ‘The Great Resignation’ pushes further into public consciousness, organisations should review their policies and procedures in line with changing employee expectations. Business Reporter spoke to seven industry experts for their advice on what employers should do to attract and retain staff.

Shifting values

The pandemic has been a catalyst for changing workplace power dynamics, shifting negotiating power to job seekers who are now in control of their own destiny. “In today’s candidate-driven market, recruitment starts with retention,” notes Tony Prevost, HR Director at Skillsoft. “As we transition into 2022, organisations need to ensure that they’re building on top of what they’ve already got, rather than strictly filling the roles of people walking out the door with external candidates.”

The challenge for employers in this brave new world, where we can work from any location, is considering what employees gain from the workplace outside of a salary. “In part, it’s about upskilling people, not just in the core skills needed to do their job, but in the skills needed to be effective and productive from anywhere,” Prevost adds. “Employers should also produce clear development plans that don’t just suit their needs as an employer, but also suit their employees’ career aspirations.

“We have, after all, witnessed a depletion in staff loyalty over the last eighteen months, largely because many of the reasons people were drawn to work in the past (e.g. unique office spaces, snacks) have diminished. Investing in employees’ development should remain a strategic priority and a key ‘work perk.’”

“The tables have turned,” agrees Marco Fanizzi, EMEA General Manager & VP at Commvault. “Candidates are interviewing us, and increasingly often about our corporate culture and values, our plans and commitments to our communities, supply chain, the environment and our people.

“Attracting and retaining the very best talent requires attention, training, personalised development and incentive plans for the longer term. But most importantly, before we do this, we need to have conversations, listen and assess. We need to find out what an individual’s realigned values are before acting.”

A people-first approach

Increasingly, employees are looking at company culture as a key component in deciding where to work. “At Node4 we recognise that our people are our greatest asset – we have a strong focus on offering opportunities for our team members to develop, both personally and professionally,” highlights Dave Birchall, Chief People Officer at Node4.

“We have a dedicated Node4 academy that provides learning and development opportunities through personal effectiveness, presentation and communication, leadership training, coaching, mentoring and access to technical qualifications and training. We invest in our teams through Exceptional Service training workshops and reward & recognition programmes. Our employee value proposition is constantly reviewed to ensure that we are offering more than just a place to work.”

“Employees value incentives that make them feel valued, such as time-off, healthcare insurance or volunteering opportunities,” furthers Kathryn Barnes, Employment Counsel EMEA at Globalization Partners. “At Globalization Partners, we have offered more vacation time, encouraging people to rest and reflect after a tumultuous eighteen months.”

Dr. Shirley J. Knowles, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at Progress, highlights that a sense of inclusion and belonging is crucial. Organisations have to understand that for talent – especially women and minority groups – feeling included and valued is a huge motivator. Leaders should therefore take steps to promote a culture of inclusion. These can be simple – such as regularly checking in with your teams, or being more open about challenges. Other options include mentoring top talent, especially from minority groups, and ensuring that you’re regularly taking feedback from staff, and taking appropriate action – immediately.”

Investing in teams and technology

In the current hiring market, recruiting new staff – particularly IT techs – can be a lengthy and expensive process. Gregg Lalle, Senior VP, International Sales & Strategy at ConnectWise, suggests: “It might be that restructuring your current team to ensure your most talented employees are being used effectively will go a long way towards filling in any gaps you might have.

“It’s also worth considering outsourcing some of your current workload. For example, many MSPs are benefiting from using a Help Desk service, rather than trying to provide that 24/7 technical support for their clients themselves. Using an outsourced service allows businesses to immediately serve their customers without having to bring in new staff: navigating raises, career paths and HR issues.

“In short,” he adds, “spending on your current employees can be a more effective use of funds than hiring. In order to scale and capture the growing market, MSPs are looking to outsource non critical functions. Outsourcing lower value activities allows an MSP to lower costs whilst still owning the touchpoint and outcome with their customers.”

Combatting cyber security challenges

While ‘The Great Resignation’ looks to be having far-reaching impact across industries, analyst house Forrester has warned of a significant exodus of cyber security professionals from the industry due to stress, burnout and limited career progression opportunities.

“Understaffed and overburdened security analysts across industries are facing an onslaught of attacks and many simply don’t have the resources to combat them,” warns Mike DeCesare, CEO and president at Exabeam.

“Cyber security is a mission oriented business,” he explains. “It is the only sector in IT where there are bad actors every day trying to beat and take down your product to gain access to your customers’ data. Companies in every industry should be able to relate what they do to something that makes the world a better place. Rally your employees around that mission.

“This is also a time for all of us in leadership to focus on how to build an emotional connection with our employees, many of whom are feeling more disconnected than ever before, especially in an industry like ours where so many people are now working from home. Do executive and team off-sites when you can. Encourage open communication lines. Listen to your people about what they are working on towards the mission.”

He concludes by adding, “all CEOs in the cybersecurity industry can build and foster diverse cultures that help turn ‘The Great Resignation’ around. Our industry can take advantage of the fact that a lot of passionate people of all ages and experiences are on the market right now, looking for more fulfilling work –– people who would love to join our industry’s cause to stop the adversaries from continuing to damage and harm the world through cyber crime, attacks, and other careless actions. We need to keep an open mind about hiring practices and create work environments that deliver a sense of belonging and purpose.”


Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

© Business Reporter 2021

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