In the 2021 Grant Thornton State of Work in America survey of over 1,500 workers, 79% said they want flexibility in when and where they work and 40% don’t want to work for a company that would require them to return to the office full time. So, it comes as no surprise that HR leaders know they will need to re-assess job skills and job descriptions in the future because of COVID-19 and these new employees’ demands.
“COVID-19 has resulted in hybrid work, which has been widely popular with employees,” said Tim Glowa, a principal in Grant Thornton Human Capital Services. “Combine that with the massive increase in open positions, including 15 million voluntary resignations that have occurred since spring of 2021, and the fact is, organizations need to conduct the HR function differently.” The concept of whether employees can work effectively from home” has been shattered and there is no going back to the way things were.
Another critical issue is arising — many mature employees aren’t ready to retire and want to work longer. At the same time, nearly one quarter of companies aren’t doing much to create cultures and strategies to keep them.
“The long-held retirement age of 65 is now being pushed back,” said Angela Nalwa, a managing director in Grant Thornton’s HR Transformation practice. “Organizations need these experienced workers for several reasons; their experience, knowledge and mentoring of younger employees are critical. And there’s not enough talent to replace this segment of the workforce. So, there needs to be a focus on retention strategies for this valuable group.”
The eventual exiting of the mature workers in the next decade due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation will only make the war for talent even more pronounced.
The ‘War for Talent’ rages
What is surprising in the survey is that only two-thirds of HR leaders believe that there is a “War for Talent,” despite the high number of open job positions and the findings from the 2021 Grant Thornton State of Work survey that shows 33% of employees are actively looking for a new job with a different company.
Some of this heightened interest in job-seeking could be a reaction to previous and current company policies.
“Turnover could be related to how organizations treated their employees at the start of the pandemic,” suggested Alex BeMiller, a Grant Thornton tax associate. “If employees were treated unfairly, such as experiencing large layoffs or 10% rollbacks on their salaries, all those short-term decisions may be coming back to bite companies. You reap what you sow.”
Employees are leaving not just for more money, but for a better work experience, career advancement, opportunities, working remotely, better benefits or to have a better manager.
More than more than half of the HR leaders say their organizations are planning to invest in employee retention strategies, including compensation and total reward models.
“Those organizations that choose to do nothing and hope that everything will go back to the way it was are putting themselves at a significant competitive disadvantage, and on the losing side in the war on talent,” said Nalwa.
Compensation and benefits