Recruiters Respond to the Great Resignation in 2022

Soaring hiring demand presents singular opening for talent acquisition

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 14, 2022
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​The Great Resignation may taper off later this year, but turnover is expected to remain elevated, providing talent acquisition professionals with a stellar opportunity to lure talent to the organization and to play a more critical part in retaining that talent.   

The post-pandemic hiring recovery will continue to be tumultuous in 2022, exemplified by intense hiring demand, fierce competition for talent and an overhaul of the employee experience to meet candidate expectations.

"2022 will pose its own challenges, but the market gives us in recruiting a fantastic chance to refresh our message and go out there and highlight the reasons we work at the companies we do," said Jennifer Shappley, vice president of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn. "This could be a once-in-a-career situation where talent acquisition is so central to the business's success and TA leaders can step more into that business leader role."  

Todd Bavol, president and CEO of Integrity Staffing Solutions, a nationwide staffing firm based in Newark, Del., said there will be a smoothing of the level of urgency in 2022, but hiring will not get easier. "I think it will be harder," he said. "Not only will quality candidates continue to be in high demand, but there will also continue to be a large number of job openings and competition will be even tighter than in 2021."

He pointed to the latest labor market data that shows the economy is still about 3 million jobs shy of pre-pandemic levels with about 4 percent unemployment and a depressed labor force participation rate.

What had been a job-hopping trend pre-pandemic—employees looking for a new position after two or three years—was exacerbated by the upheaval of the past two years. "With the rise of work from anywhere, hire from anywhere and an easier interview process all done virtually, there's no reason for employees not to be looking for a better opportunity," said Evan Sohn, CEO of Recruiter.com, a hiring platform based in New York City. "Companies now need to be thinking about having a constant stream of potential candidates to fill their workforce."

The bottom line is that the supply chain of talent will cost more in 2022 than in prior years, Sohn concluded. "And employers will need to invest more in recruiting and hiring. This is one of the reasons why we have seen a surge in hiring recruiters and talent acquisition professionals."

Communicating What Workers Want

It's being realized that people want more from their employers. Job seekers want flexibility, well-being and purpose on top of competitive pay, good working conditions and skills development. It's up to recruiters to signal to candidates how their organization will meet their expectations.   

"Recruiters must make sure that in their outreach, in their job postings, in interviews with candidates, that they are very attuned to what is top of mind for those candidates," Shappley said. "We're seeing a significant increase in views and applies for job ads that mention flexibility and work culture."

Bavol agreed that employers must work toward their brand being hyper-focused on what workers want and delivering on that promise. "This is a perfect time to get in front of the wave of quitting that is going to continue this year," he said. "Recruitment messaging should be speaking to the needs of today's workforce, showing that the company is putting people first. It's also a great opportunity for recruiters to look at where people are leaving—and building relationships with those folks now." 

Lenka Burnett, vice president of global client services at international recruiting firm Korn Ferry in London, noted that many employers that were still in a reactive mode in 2021 are taking a more structured and focused approach to hiring and turnover challenges this year.

"TA teams are looking at articulating and bringing their EVP [employee value proposition] to the forefront of their hiring process and in engagement with candidates," she said. "Last year, companies were focused on hiring numbers. They had to fill demand. The focus is shifting now to candidate and employee experience."

Shappley said boosting employer brand has taken on a renewed focus. "So much of what an employer saw as their culture to be communicated has fundamentally changed over the last couple of years," she said. "This is a real opportunity to go back and refresh that messaging. It's important to have a partnership between TA and the marketing/communications team when doing this work. Activating your entire employee base is the biggest way to get your message out there."  

Job seekers are clamoring for flexibility in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "For the roles that allow it, hybrid working will continue to spread its roots in 2022," said Johnny Campbell, CEO of Dublin-based SocialTalent, a learning platform for recruiters. "Workers are craving flexibility, in all its forms. There is a lot of work and structure involved in getting flexibility to function, but it's better to plan with this in mind and stay ahead of the curve. Talent is demanding it."

And employers know this: There was an 83 percent increase in job posts mentioning flexibility in 2021 over 2019, according to LinkedIn, and 343 percent more mentions of flexibility in company posts during that time. For their part, recruiters need to know the ins and outs of their company's flexible work policies and how the organization supports remote and hybrid workers, Shappley said.

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Turnover and Retention

Retention Role

Employers must also focus on retaining their existing employees in today's highly competitive job market. As the gatekeepers of their organization, recruiters can play a big part in supporting retention.   

The epic talent migration that is taking place is a challenge but also another opportunity for recruiters to help preserve and evolve their own organization's culture, Shappley said. "It's crucial to make sure new hires are adding to, rather than subtracting from, your culture," she said.

John Vlastelica, founder and managing director of Recruiting Toolbox, a global management consulting and training firm in Seattle, recommended every company pressure-test their EVP. "Spend time thinking about this question: 'Do we really deliver the experience and opportunity we sell as recruiters?' " he said.

Additional ways recruiters can support retention include being authentic when engaging with candidates and participating in onboarding.

"When engaging with applicants, it's very important to ensure candidate fit and promote the uniqueness of the organizational culture," Bavol said. "Ensuring that there is a synergy between what is important to a candidate and the organization's interests will help support retention down the road."

Onboarding is another key piece of the candidate experience, Burnett said. "Companies should focus on personalizing communications with new hires and invest in digital onboarding tools."

Shappley added that talent acquisition leaders should consider refreshing onboarding materials and even re-onboarding the recruiting team as they prepare for a new year of work. "The world has changed, and recruiters must know the organization's latest changes in order to prepare the right message," she said.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Facing talent scarcity, employers have begun to examine the people they already have on staff to fill open roles.

"Organizations are realizing that you can't just bring in people externally," Burnett said. "There has been an increase in interest in internal mobility since the onset of the pandemic, and in 2022, companies are looking at workforce planning and talent acquisition more holistically."

Internal mobility programs are in the spotlight as a retention tool as more data shows that employees are more likely to stay in their jobs if they see investment in their careers and professional development.

LinkedIn found that employees at organizations with high internal mobility stay at their companies almost two times longer.

"With the current crisis, it's never been more important to upskill, reskill and invest in your employee base," Campbell said. "By building internal mobility programs, you are demonstrating how serious you are about the development and progression of your staff, the absence of which is a top reason why people leave a company."

The shift to remote work may be making internal mobility more of a challenge, however.

"Internal mobility is a no-brainer but can be difficult when there isn't a constant visual on your employees," Campbell said. "Less interactions with managers could hurt hybrid and remote workers if organizations don't adapt to this new structure of work. Proximity bias needs to be eliminated in order to allow a fair and equitable process."

He recommended establishing new methods of nurturing employees, being transparent in sharing opportunities and regularly checking in with direct reports about their career goals.

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