October 12, 2021

Reflections on the current talent market

Reflections on the current talent market

It seems like The Great Resignation was all anyone could talk about in the summer of 2021. And for good reason. There were record numbers of workers across the U.S. turning in their resignation letters in search of something new.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking with founders, executive leaders, and talent professionals from across our portfolio to better understand what they're seeing on the ground. In these conversations, a few key observations have come forward in the realms of recruiting and retention:

  • Candidates are moving fast: This won’t be new for any of the seasoned recruiters reading this. Candidates have multiple options in front of them and they're moving on and off the market very quickly.
  • Connecting with peers is necessary for retention: Interpersonal relationships between peers is an important part of retention programs. Companies are investing in ways for team members to connect with each other and build meaningful relationships.
  • COVID has given people clarity of purpose and direction: While U.S. workers have had many different experiences of the pandemic, one unifying result is a greater sense of clarity, purpose, and direction in life. This manifests in both small ways (saying no to projects at work) and large ones (resigning to live out of a van for a year).

With those themes in mind and flashing back to the early summer talk around The Great Resignation, I find myself aligning with the revised topic of The Great Reshuffling. Why? Because I’m also hearing about companies finding exceptional talent to join their organizations; the same talent that is resigning from their old roles is filling seats elsewhere. Organizations need to critically think about their recruiting strategies to ensure they are catching their piece of this reshuffling talent. Here are some of the ways companies are successfully doing that:

  • Clarity of mission and vision: Candidates are looking for meaning and purpose in their lives, including work lives. Companies who spend the time really refining their pitch to candidates — who they are, what they do, why they exist in the world — are able to more thoroughly engage candidates. This clarity should push some candidates away, which is a good thing. You want to engage with talented candidates, but the best candidates will be the ones who buy into and believe in your mission early.
  • Once you post a role, be ready to move quickly: Given the pace of movement on the market, it’s most beneficial to post your role when you're actually ready to recruit and interview for it. The days of posting a role early, collecting candidates, and waiting to start the process are over — the best candidates in that pool will have already signed another offer by the time you reach out for your first call. So what this means is that you have your processes ironed out, challenge assignments written, and interview team trained so that you can fully engage with a great candidate from day one.
  • Onboarding has never been more important: You’ve won the candidate, great! Now you need to keep winning them over. The strongest and most successful onboarding programs focus on not just tactical coaching on how to do a job, but deep cultural and relationship onboarding to entrench a new team member within the organization early. This is harnessing the learning around retention noted above.  

I’m curious — how else are companies winning in today’s market? It certainly isn’t impossible to do. Rather, with some preparation, forethought, and empathy, companies can win big in The Great Reshuffling.

Learn more at our Talent Planning webinar series

At the next session on Nov 17, Jim is discussing employee retention and how to keep your team happy.