What is the Great Resignation?
The Great Resignation, also known as the Great Realization, the Big Quit, and the Great Reshuffle, first gained momentum in the US in 2021, when roughly 47.4 million people quit their jobs. For comparison, 42.1 million people quit in 2019, which was also considered a tight labor market.
The new trend of “quiet quitting” has also meant that even if employees aren’t outright quitting as part of the Great Resignation, at least half are disengaging from their jobs and doing only the minimum required.
What do both the Great Resignation and quiet quitting have in common? Both are responses to dissatisfaction in the workplace. The pandemic has fundamentally changed what people want out of a job — whether it’s more work-life flexibility, more compensation, better wellbeing or more purpose. And a strong labor market means they’re more likely to leave their current job in search of something better — or quiet quit in response to pandemic burnout.
How to attract and retain workers amid the Great Resignation
So what would make your workers stay? And what factors are important to job seekers looking for new opportunities in 2023? Since there are roughly 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker as of September 2022, it’s essential to reconsider your old recruiting strategies and explore new alternatives.
Check out our tips for keeping your best employees (and competing for new talent), backed by the best of Indeed research from 2022.
1. Rethink educational and industry experience requirements
In 2022, we found employers thinking creatively to consider different types of applicants than in the past. Indeed surveyed 502 employers across the US to learn how they’ve adapted their recruiting strategies as a result of the pandemic.
Most employers (59%) would consider eliminating college requirements — though 75% of employers surveyed still currently have an undergraduate degree as a baseline requirement. However, nearly 30% of employers said removing educational requirements would allow them to reach more diverse talent.
Over three-fourths (76%) of employers surveyed also said they’re considering more applicants who come from different types of positions and/or industries now than they did in the past. For example, over one-fourth (26%) of employers said that an applicant’s degree rarely matches the industry.
What does this mean for employers? Revisit educational requirements in your current job descriptions to see if degrees are truly required to succeed in the role. Moving undergraduate degrees from “must-have” to “nice-to-have” could help you attract more diverse applicants — especially in a tight labor market. Additionally, considering candidates from outside industries could open new opportunities for less traditional applicants.
2. Offer greater flexibility and/or remote work options
Remote work and flexibility, which used to be attractive perks, have now become non-negotiables for many people. Data from the Indeed Hiring Lab reveals that job seeker searches on Indeed for remote work were 9.7% of all searches on Indeed in August 2022, almost five times the share in February 2020.
Not only that, but in an Indeed survey of 1,005 people who had switched jobs at least twice since the onset of the pandemic, 45% said they switched jobs because their employers did not offer flexibility on remote work.¹
Take Generation Z and millennials, for example. Indeed also surveyed 1,001 workers between the ages of 18 and 41 to understand their working habits and preferences when it comes to remote vs in-person work in 2022. Here’s what they said:
- 94% of Gen-Z and 84% of millennials say they would not take a job that required them to attend in-person full-time.
- 88% of Gen-Z and 69% of millennials would quit their current job if asked to attend in-person full-time.
- 87% of Gen-Z and 89% of millennials agree that the benefits of working from home outweigh the perks of going into an office full-time.
- 94% of Gen-Z and 66% of millennials said they feel a lack of connection with their colleagues due to working fully or partially at home.
What does this mean for employers? Consider offering greater flexibility and the option to work from home, if possible. Our survey data shows that both millennials and Gen-Z tend to prefer fully remote or hybrid work environments. In fact, the overwhelming majority say they would not take a job that required them to attend in-person full-time, and would even quit their current job if asked to return to the office full-time. However, people still crave connection at work, so it’s important to create opportunities for human interaction and support teams in their communication and relationship-building.
3. Assess your wage competitiveness
It’s not just remote work and flexibility that workers are demanding. Indeed data from 2022 shows that money is on their mind. In fact, according to the Indeed Hiring Lab, throughout 2019 and much of 2020, the share of job seeker searches on Indeed that included “$15” was greater than those mentioning “$20.” But that trend flipped in April 2021. Since then, the share of $20-related searches has grown 35.5% year over year, while searches for $15 have declined 57.3% over the same time period.
Job seeker searches on Indeed for “$25” have also risen. While still smaller than those for $20, the share of $25-related searches has increased 122% year-over-year as of August 14, 2022. The share of searches for $25 has surpassed the share of $15-related searches as of mid-June 2022.
Job seekers are searching for higher dollar amounts in 2022 — and recent survey data also confirms this. According to an Indeed survey of people who had switched jobs at least twice since the start of the pandemic, flexibility and remote work were the two top motivators for initial pandemic job changes. But higher compensation quickly became the main reason people continued their job search. In fact, 60% of survey respondents said they are still actively looking for a new job even after going through at least two new jobs since 2020. Nearly half (49%) said higher pay was their biggest motivation.¹
In another Indeed survey of 1,001 workers between the ages of 18 and 41, 47% of Generation Z and 66% of millennials said a higher salary would influence them to switch jobs.
What does this mean for employers? Shifting job seeker expectations for higher dollar amounts and decades-high inflation means people want more money in exchange for their work. Consider offering more competitive pay or reevaluate what you’re currently paying employees to make sure it aligns with your workers’ wants and needs. Higher pay can potentially help forego the more expensive cost to hire and train new employees, and can go a long way toward retaining your best employees.
Read more: Setting Wages in a Competitive Market
4. Prioritize happiness and wellbeing
Flexibility and fair pay aren’t the only factors people are considering when searching for their next jobs. According to an Indeed survey of more than 5,000 US professionals, the top reasons people seek new opportunities are pay (39%), followed by stress (26%), dissatisfaction (24%) and unhappiness (20%).²
To better understand shifting perceptions over time, the survey also compared year-over-year numbers and found that 46% of people surveyed said their expectations for happiness at work have increased over the past 12 months. This suggests that workers are no longer settling for jobs that don’t make them happy.
How workers feel at work impacts their entire life, and most workers believe companies should care about it:
- 86% believe work can provide more than just a paycheck
- 86% report work impacts their happiness at home
- 82% believe it is important to find companies that care about how you feel
What does this mean for employers? To help prevent the Great Resignation at your company, it’s important to prioritize happiness and wellbeing. You can start by measuring the current state of happiness and wellbeing in your workplace with tools like the Indeed Work Happiness Score or employee pulse surveys. These measurement tools can help you identify areas of improvement (e.g., relaxing tight deadlines, creating more career mobility opportunities, training managers on skill sets that support mental health).
5. Support employees’ reproductive rights
Supporting reproductive health care isn’t just the right thing for employers to do, it’s also important for many workers. In the days after the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the share of job searches on Indeed for phrases like “abortion” and “reproductive rights” jumped 1,461% compared to the previous year.
A recent Indeed survey of 1,011 full-time workers from across the US also suggests that the issue is so important for many workers that it could impact their decision to stay at or leave their current job, as well as the companies they’d consider working for in the future. Among workers surveyed, 89% said it’s important that their company offers reproductive health benefits. A further 41% said that they would not work at a company that does not offer these benefits.
Abortion care assistance is also a growing priority for many workers. Our survey showed that 47% of survey respondents would not work for a company that does not offer abortion care assistance — and 43% said this is an important factor in determining where they work. Impressively, 43% of surveyed workers said their company added abortion care assistance to their benefits package (compared to just 17% prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling). These policies vary, such as providing financial assistance for travel (reported by 60%) or related medical services (73%).
What does this mean for employers? Since 43% of respondents would consider leaving their company for one that offers abortion care benefits, employers who don’t take action may face potential challenges with hiring and retention. Steps you can take to support employees’ reproductive rights include facilitating inclusive conversation in the workplace and expanding employee benefits packages to include reproductive care benefits.
The Great Resignation means attracting and retaining talent requires new and innovative strategies. Employers who are willing to listen, learn and, more importantly, take action to engage, attract and retain the best talent in 2023 are more likely to win in today’s competitive hiring market.
¹Indeed-commissioned survey, conducted by Kickstand Communications, where n=1,005 people who live and work full-time in the United States and have voluntarily resigned from at least two different jobs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. They had also worked for at least one year at their pre-pandemic job.
²Indeed Work Happiness Report, based on a commissioned survey (n=5,026 US adults) conducted by Forrester Consulting, 2022