Recently we have seen a lot of headlines about the “Great Resignation” and how the pandemic has inspired many people to rethink their relationship to work. But while this is undoubtedly very important, perhaps not enough attention has been given to how it has also provided employers with an opportunity to rethink how we hire. 

Make no mistake, however — it’s important that we do: According to a recent Indeed survey, 73% of employers are currently struggling to hire and retain employees and a third of employers (33%) are worried this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. Indeed job search data confirms the strain felt by employers, with the supply of jobs recovering to prepandemic levels faster than demand

In fact, rather than view this moment negatively, Indeed views it instead as an opportunity — a “Great Realization,” if you will. And while it’s certainly a challenging time to recruit, it’s also an opportunity to build better workplaces in the future. But how?

The definition of a “good job” has been fundamentally altered

The first thing employers need to understand is that job seekers today are in the driver’s seat and are much more discerning about how, where and why they work. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans quit their jobs at record-breaking rates this year, with nearly 20 million workers leaving their jobs between April and August 2021.

In all fairness, many employers are already responding to this shift. According to Indeed’s research, employers believe 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%). These perceptions align with what we are seeing in Indeed’s proprietary job search data, which found that people searching for work on Indeed are roughly twice as likely to search for remote jobs now than before the pandemic.

The thing is, here at Indeed we believe that what’s good for job seekers can also be good for employers, if you respond correctly. For example, as more companies offer work-from-home options, there’s potential for the emergence of a national labor market of remote workers. This benefits employees who have the option to work from their location of choice (usually within their country of hire) while providing a broader, more diverse talent pool for companies to recruit from. 

We have experienced this firsthand: Prepandemic, Indeed mainly recruited workers from traditional tech hubs where our offices were located. Now that we offer remote and hybrid work options for most of our employees, we can talk to talent just about anywhere. 

On the flip side, more traditional companies that attempt to go back to old ways of working — especially if their policies are less employee-friendly and more stringent — could receive pushback or, worse, a notice of resignation. 

If you make workplace decisions in a vacuum without providing a good reason for those decisions, your employees may not stick around. And this can create a ripple effect across the organization.

Ripple-effect resignations can hinder your hiring plans

Our research turned up an interesting finding: Three-quarters (76%) of employers surveyed agree that once a few employees resign, others typically follow! 

When one person leaves for their own reasons, others may do the same because of changing perceptions: it signals that the grass might really be greener on the other side and can cause a cascade of resignations across the team. 

This kind of attrition adds up and can be problematic for growing companies trying to fill new roles while simultaneously backfilling others. 

In this case, the best thing you can do from a recruiting standpoint is to focus on retention. Simply listening to your employees can go a long way to both stem the tide of departing talent and better understand your industry’s job market. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? What opportunities are they seeing in the marketplace?

Next, take action on the feedback you receive. Addressing the root cause of your attrition challenges demonstrates that your employees’ voices are heard, their perspectives matter and ultimately, they’re valued. 

In fact, Indeed’s Workplace Happiness Report found that factors like belonging and trust are important drivers of workplace well-being. And companies that make workforce well-being a priority, develop a strategy to listen and act on employee needs and concerns and maintain trust through transparency and honest communication will cultivate happier workplaces, making it easier to both recruit and retain talent in the long run.

Stand apart from the hiring competition 

In addition to striving for a happier workplace, employers can reevaluate their offerings to meet changing workforce expectations, including competitive compensation, tailored benefit plans and remote or flexible work options. 

But in order to truly stand out in a crowded field, I encourage you to identify what sets you apart as an employer and work with your talent-acquisition team to tell this story as a unified front. In all this turbulence, it’s crucial that you don’t neglect your employer brand. In fact, make sure you are doubling down on efforts to tell the story of why your company is an attractive place to work.

Authenticity is key — it becomes apparent very quickly if a candidate doesn’t experience what’s been sold to them by a recruiter throughout each touchpoint of their hiring journey.

At Indeed, we lean into what we consider one of our unassailable advantages, which is our mission: We help people get jobs. This mission is more important than ever and provides a purpose-driven workplace for our employees and new recruits. 

What is your mission? What is your purpose? Zero in on it with laser-like focus and commit to sharing that story.

This is an opportunity to work and hire better

While the times we are living through do not represent a “new normal,” we are perhaps starting to see the emergence of a next normal. 

This time of disruption provides a moment to reflect on which aspects of our workplace we’re doing “on purpose.” What makes this a great place to work? What gets our employees excited about doing their jobs each and every day? What parts of our culture are mission-critical, and what elements aren’t necessary in order to be great moving forward? 

Asking these questions and gathering input from employees without preconceived notions about how and where you work can lead to interesting, intentional results. Nimble, adaptive companies have an opportunity to put forward a unique employer-value proposition and recruit top talent hungry for a new way of working — a way that’s more flexible, inclusive and empathetic.

It’s common for leaders to get attached to “the way things were” and have a desire to get “back to normal.” It can be scary to admit that what helped you grow your team yesterday may not be the thing that moves you forward tomorrow.

But we have the ability to do better — to use the Great Realization as an opportunity to reimagine what our organizations can become and achieve our goals with the engaged, happy and productive teams we’ve built along the way.