What is the "Great Resignation"?
In This Article:
This is a two-part feature looking at the phenomena known as the Great Resignation and how much of an impact COVID had on this.
In the second part I look at a technology platform that aims to help companies find hidden workers using simulation tools to test of actual capability, rather than CV-writing skills.
In Part I:
How To Find Staff Amid The Great Resignation?
The COVID-19 pandemic has really delivered some interesting societal challenges, hasn't it?
The impact of this continues to be felt in many ways - from the deeply personal, individual impacts, through to poverty, excess waste, pollution, global supply chains, and shortages in anything with a computer chip in it.
One of the other paradigms that has been forced upon us during this period of time is becoming known as the Great Resignation.
The Great Resignation
We are in a period of time where employers are finding it increasingly difficult to motivate and retain staff, even harder to recruit either for backfilling vacant roles, or for the new roles that are critical for growth.
I’ve spoken to leaders in startups and multinationals, across sectors ranging from digital, to telecom, education and hospitality - all tell me the same, it’s incredibly difficult to retain, let alone to hire the people you need fast enough.
There seem to be many factors playing into this particular dynamic, and so far I haven't found one unified answer that explains the simultaneous increase in vacant roles and unemployed, or under-employed workers.
COVID-19 is certainly one of those factors, but is it the only one?
There are many factors that play into today's labor shortage. There are many people in the labor market who have skills but are not finding their way in the door that leads them to employment. This is the reason that Skillset was established.
Is COVID the cause of the Great Resignation?If so, how do you find skilled staff?
A Harvard Business School report seems to say "no", COVID-19 is not the sole reason for the difficulty in finding skilled staff.
The report, co-authored by Joseph Fuller, highlights that the disconnect between open roles and unemployment pre-dates COVID. He cites that in Germany during February 2020, just before the triggering of global lockdowns, there were 712,000 job vacancies across the country with 2.3 million people being unemployed, with a similar picture in the UK. However, in the US there were 7 million positions available with 5.8 million people unemployed, and a similar number are underemployed.
Even though COVID wasn't the initiator of this particular trend, it certainly hasn't helped at all.
In hospitality, one of the most adversely affected industries, many staff were either let go, or put on significantly reduced contracts. This has led to many hospitality staff finding alternative employment in different sectors, and now no longer wishing to return to those businesses, even though things seem to be opening up again - creating a more significant problem in the near-, to mid-term for that sector.
Beyond hospitality, many employees face the uncertainty of quarantines, school closures or even office closures, and are therefore reluctant to take on any additional commitments until the uncertainty passes. Perhaps now with several European countries dropping restrictions, we will see a change of course in this behaviour, as those who are reluctant to take on commitment now feel more reassured that life will return to some kind of normality.
However, the pandemic pushed us to move to more digital ways of working, the digital divide became a digital ravine (watch presentation here to find out more about the digital ravine).
Digital Ravine Disenfranchises Non-Digital Labour
The recruitment process has been moving towards the increased use of digital applications, and AI based CV screening and selection techniques for quite a while. This, like many digital projects during the pandemic, was accelerate by many businesses during 2020-2022.
Naturally, the digital-first approach to the initial screening stages of recruitment is important for worlds where digital skills are increasingly more required. However, there are so many jobs were the ability to do the role outweighs the importance of being able to operate computers or submit carefully constructed CVs.
In fact, in another study there is a clear preference for applicants being able to do the job they're applying for, as demonstrated by these statistics.
91% of employers prefer applicants to have work experience
That statistic is very interesting, especially considering that in Mr Fuller's report he highlights that the number of job postings in the UK during the pandemic that specified "no experience required" increased by more than 60%, compared to 2019.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, but does this mean employers are compromising on things they believe to be highly valuable just to find staff?
There are other eye-opening statistics shared in the previous article, such as 71% of employers not hiring someone because of the way they dress and 10% of applications being rejected due to a poor handshake.
I'm sure some of these things are very important for some roles, and the first impression is always incredibly important. However, I wonder about the importance of these criteria when trying to diversify and become more inclusive, and when companies are scrambling to hire even the bare minimum number of staff.
Tech to Find Appropriately Skilled Staff
In the next part of this feature, I speak with a company about how they are using technologies to help find skilled staff that might otherwise find themselves excluded from the recruitment process.
Click the button below to read how carefully constructed job simulations are helping reduce bias and increase access to jobs for the 'hidden workforce'.
Tell me what you think
What do you think? Share your thoughts with me, and leave a comment below.