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How to address recruitment challenges amidst ‘the Great Resignation’”

How to address recruitment challenges amidst the "Great Resignation"
What do you value most in life?  The pandemic caused people to rethink their priorities.   People want to be valued, with a new sense of purpose, more flexibility and autonomy.  Long before the pandemic employees have been complaining about exhaustion and mental health.   The pandemic caused devastation to many families with unexpected deaths and serious illness which made people reflect on how much meaning and contentment exists in their own lives.

The war for talent continues to rage and the new post pandemic era has made the situation more complicated for firms that want to recruit and retain talent.  However, firms that continue to innovate will flourish, but it’s how you do so that is the challenge.  In this article you will learn how you can evolve your practice if you want to overcome the obstacles when increasing head count and take advantage of new opportunities today.   

What do you want to be known for?

HR conducted a survey of 1,000 UK workers which revealed that almost a third (29%) of UK workers are considering moving to a new job this year. Findings also uncovered the industry’s most likely to be affected by this mass migration of staff, starting with Legal (44%), IT & Telecoms (42%), and Sales, Media & Marketing (40%). 

Companies offering hybrid or remote working are less likely to be affected by resignations, with almost 1 in 3 (28%) workers admitting that flexible working policies are encouraging them to stay in their current job.

The research indicates that the second most important benefit, after salary/bonuses, for an employer to attract workers who are looking for a new job is flexible or remote working (30%), followed by extra holidays and days off (25%).

Many firms have adopted the hybrid working model but there are many permutations to it.  Thackray Williams recently implemented a new initiative where employees can compress their hours and do 10 days’ work in nine so they can take the tenth day off.  PWC announced that their staff can take Fridays off through the summer months.  Kevin Ellis, PwC UK’s chairman, said: “We knew summer working hours would be popular with our people, but the positive impact on wellbeing surpassed expectations. Not everyone could take every Friday, but they benefited from less email traffic when they did and a chance to switch off properly.”

While experimenting with different flexible working models it has given rise to a new problem, proximity bias.  Managers will be asking themselves who is more productive and reliable therefore they might unconsciously favour the individual that’s more present in the office over those who work remotely.   This is particularly important when it comes to how work is distributed or who should be promoted.  

To guard against this, managers must be transparent and intentional about how they engage their team and senior leaders needs to think strategically to ensure that they are a fair employer that values the impact that employees have regardless of where they carry out their work.

What works best for your firm will depend on the needs of your clients and your employees therefore you need a system of capturing data on your employee’s experience.  Consider, do your employees feel trusted?  Do employees have the tools and autonomy to succeed? This is a great opportunity to stand out from an ever-increasing competitive market which also has the combined effect of strengthening your employee value proposition.

 Develop a proactive recruitment process

Your recruitment process is either reactive or proactive.  A reactive process is the most common, because it’s worked for many years.  Slowly companies are moving away from this approach because proactive processes improve your quality and cost of hire.  To develop a proactive process its recommended to take a long-term approach to your recruitment needs and create a talent community.  Consider, what skills and experience do you require over the next 12 months?    How can you invite individuals to join your talent pool?   Engage them by inviting them to your own events, share information about your firm, get to know your community of passive talent because this is your unique talent pool which you can tap into before advertising or engaging recruitment agents. 

Your efforts of developing a talent pool must be supported by measuring key recruitment metrics.  This will allow you to make adjustments as you grow and learn more about the skills you require in the future.  Consider tracking, cost per hire, quality of hire, offer/acceptance rate, candidate reach and turnover rate.

Pay attention to turnover

Turnover is to be expected and is OK because it keeps teams fresh with new ideas, but medium to high levels is a problem.   Many firms fail to investigate why employees are leaving, but instead prefer to increase salaries to solve the problem.  This rarely works particularly if you don’t want to compete on salaries alone.  Turnover is a lagging metric which means that the damage has been done therefore it’s worth considering why people are leaving before replacing them.   The formula to calculate turnover is:

(Number of employees who resigned ÷ total number of employees) x 100

If you wait to conduct annual surveys to gain a deeper understanding of how employees feel about their career, management and environment, you will be too slow to react to their needs.   Instead, be innovative on how you collect data, for example you might choose to conduct monthly short pulse surveys.  Further questions need to be considered, for example what departments or managers account for the most departures? and what was the average tenure of those employees?  Having a clear picture of why people are leaving will help you understand the underline problems, thereafter you can find an appropriate solution.

 Diversity, equity and inclusion can be your game changer

With millennials making up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 its useful to know what they think about sustainability, social issues and diversity because this impacts their choice of employer.   Deliotte conducted a survey on what millennials and generation Z think about diversity, equity and inclusion.  Eight three percent of millennials feel empowered and engaged in the workplace when they believe their company fosters an authentically inclusive culture.  Furthermore, 37% of employees and job seekers said they wouldn’t apply to a company that had negative satisfaction ratings among people of colour.

Allen Overy laid down a marker by stating they want 15% ethnic minorities as partners by 2025, which is a sign of intent to address under representation at senior levels but they must also make sure that they are pay fairly and be given opportunities to contribute. 

Over the years firms have made progress but the latest SRA figures shows that women are underrepresented at partner level with 35% women, 11% Asian and 2% black.

If you look around your office and you do not see individuals that make up our society, then why not begin by understanding why that’s the case then treat diversity and inclusion like any other business problem. Consider, is diversity and inclusion a company value that leaders discuss and respect? Do you have objectives/targets?  Are all employees aware of them?

 Develop a positive workplace culture?

With firms understandably experimenting with various hybrid models, its critical to your continued growth and profitability to develop your company culture.  Clients have demands that need to be met and you want to have a working environment where employees feel they belong for them to do their best work.   Defining culture can be tricky because it’s made up of written and unwritten rules, behaviours and norms, so it can feel allusive, however it’s been said that culture eats strategy for breakfast therefore needs to be given the attention it deserves.

Although complicated it can be simplified and must be managed and developed. Your culture must drive the behaviour you want to see to achieve your business objectives.  In other words, if you want to be known by your clients for being knowledgeable, solving complex problems and trustworthy then perhaps a culture where your employees have autonomy, are judged on outcomes and are supported with a focus on their wellness is likely to meet your business objectives.  You may say our culture here is to work a 4/5-day week which has always worked best to meet our client’s needs.  Sure, but lawyers are talking with their feet, because they can.  If you want to attract and retain the right talent then it’s important to appreciate what people want. 


The great resignation is your opportunity for great innovation.  There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way we work for ever.  Combined with the generational mix in the workplace now is a good time to rethink how you source, hire and retain talent.  Our society is more diverse than it was 10 years ago and this trend will continue in the future.  Firms can gain an advantage by rethinking what they want to be known for and develop an employee value proposition that provides a new competitive advantage. 

Only 28% of leaders understand their culture.  If you fail to manage your culture it will manage itself.   

Take our employee experience assessment to see what you are doing well and discover where there are opportunities for improvement.