By Marc-André Nataf, CEO, Cegid North America
The Employment Department has never seen this before. In the U.S., 4.3 million people resigned this past August alone. According to a survey by job search site Joblist, 73 percent of North American employees are actively considering quitting their jobs. The phenomenon, dubbed the “great resignation” by the media, is contributing to a deepening of the labor force participation rate (people holding or looking for a job), which fell to just 61.2 percent in September. This “desire for something else” has no frontiers as it is clearly visible in other territories like in Europe. According to a recent APEC study, 40% of French executives say they want to change companies in the coming year.
The priority: knowing your talents
On both sides of the Atlantic, the interminable pandemic we are going through seems to have changed the relationship to work. Employees no longer hesitate to reconsider their careers, their professional objectives and the conditions in which they carry out their work. The whole moral and social contract proposed until now by companies is deeply questioned. In this context of tension on the job market, the most important battle to be waged is not so much about recruitment as about retaining talent. You can’t fill a leaky barrel! Moreover, it is less expensive and more efficient to keep good people than to find and integrate new ones.
But to retain them, you need to know who they are. Who are the people whose departure would slow down the company’s growth and harm its competitiveness? The first thing to do is to ensure that you have reliable data on the performance of each person, in order to go beyond the mere feelings of the managers.
Then there are the measures to adopt. First, defensively, ensure that the wages paid are in line with those in your market. Wages have increased significantly in the United States over the past year. In France, negotiations are underway in some 40 sectors. It should not be forgotten that salary is only one of the components of compensation. The whole package must be competitive, including vacations, bonuses and other benefits.
The quality of the employee experience is also critical. More than a foosball table, employees need perspective to develop. Do they have the training they need to develop their skills and future employability? Is there an internal mentoring system? Is the company able to offer horizontal as well as vertical development? Nothing encourages people to leave more than feeling stuck in their career.
Employees more than ever in search of purpose
Retention also means offering working conditions that meet the expectations of the times we live in. Mandatory telecommuting has exacerbated the need for work-life balance. In France, more than half of the employees want to adopt a hybrid system, between office, third places and home. But you have to be able to offer it, i.e. have adapted your management model and deployed the right tools.
The final component of a talent retention policy is undoubtedly the most important: it is the meaning given to their actions. Companies that focus solely on their financial results are in danger of becoming disillusioned. Defining a mission of general interest, a raison d’être, with the involvement of employees, is the best way to make them feel the importance of what they are doing.
Is this any wonder? As IDC showed last July, happier, more engaged employees also lead to happier customers and higher revenues. Ultimately, this war for talent may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for companies to improve their overall performance.