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How companies can learn from the resignation wave

Written on Sep 23, 2021

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Employers who are looking to keep their retention numbers high among the reported resignation wave might already be too late, thanks to lackluster communication at the start of the pandemic.

“People were pretty tolerant and forgiving of the management team’s not having to have all the answers at the start of the pandemic,” said Lee Frederickson, Ph.D., Managing Partner of Hinge, a marketing firm for the professional services industry. “But what they were not tolerant of is a management team just being silent.”

Frederiksen gathered this insight and more to understand the recent “resignation wave” from several of the Hinge Research Institute’s studies, including The Employer Branding Study, Inside the Buyer’s Brain and the 2021 High Growth Study.

The second impact to the resignation wave has been the mergers and acquisitions market. Frederickson said the research found that if an employee was in a company that had recently been acquired, they were much more likely to go on the job hunt. Companies that didn’t roll out a thoughtful plan for integration and explain the culture and roles required were the ones that suffered.

“The third factor is the basic economic supply and demand of the overall need for talent in the marketplace and a relative overall shortage,” Frederickson said.

Despite all of this, Frederickson said there are still ways for businesses to find opportunities. He recommended prioritizing the employer brand and if a business isn’t already doing so, look for ways to become known as a best place to work. Job seekers notice this and will be more likely to look for these places during the job hunt.

Frederickson said compensation and culture also play a crucial role for job seekers. He said there’s a category called “passive lookers:” those not actively looking for a position but will respond if a recruiter reaches out to them. For these people to move, they would need a richer compensation package than the one they’re currently receiving. But if they think the new company’s culture won’t make them as happy as their current one, they won’t leave even if the compensation is higher.

The recruiting process needs to emphasize culture, Frederickson said, and companies should involve other people in the interview process besides the hiring manager to show the potential new hire the team they could be working with in the future.

“What we have found is that when firms add a robust section on recruiting to their websites or when they make cultural changes, they can have a pretty quick impact on recruiting,” he said. “Acting quickly and decisively is really the key here.”