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HR's worst nightmare has become a reality: US workers have been quitting their jobs at a record level (nearly 4 million per month) for four months running, job openings have been at all-time highs for seven straight months, and 65% of U.S. workers are looking for a new job.

Never has the need to attract and retain talent been this urgent. So why are people quitting and what can companies do about it?

In this series of 2 articles, we will offer some research-based suggestions as well as resources to help you find more information.

Make your company an employer of choice

Fortune cites research that examined the role of “turnover shock” in employee decisions to leave a job. The “shock” can be any event in an employee’s life that causes them to reevaluate their circumstances and job satisfaction. With a pandemic that has disrupted work and led many to ponder life and death questions, that shock is affecting pretty much the entire global workforce. 

According to research author Brooks Holtom, a professor of management and senior associate dean at Georgetown University, when you combine that life shock with the record number of job openings, you have a “perfect storm colluding against employers.”

Employees want more satisfaction and meaning in their lives, both inside and outside of work. A 2021 research report by beqom into employee expectations in hiring found that since the pandemic, job seekers are holding companies to a higher standard. Candidates are evaluating companies based on their corporate citizenship, as 76% of Americans say how a company responded to the pandemic is a factor in applying for and accepting a job. Furthermore, two-thirds (66%) of Americans do more research into a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts than they did prior to the pandemic.

What can an employer do? Be the kind of company that people are proud to work for, and that cares about the needs of employees. Invest in your employer brand and image. Give employees a mission and vision that can inspire them.

Support employee well-being and balance

A 2021 PwC survey of US executives and workers found that workers want better pay, yes, but also better benefits and career advancement. PwC's chief clients officer, Neil Dhar, told Fortune that, "For the most part, executives have a good grasp on why their employees are looking elsewhere. But when it comes to offering incentives that employees want most, they’re falling short." 

Dhar recommended companies not only offer better compensation, but also consider providing reimagined benefits that prioritize flexibility and well-being, for example. “Employees have been clear that they deeply, deeply value non-monetary benefits like expanded flexibility, career growth, well-being, and upskilling,” Dhar said.

beqom’s research echoes the sentiment that employees want lives that work. Perhaps the pandemic got people more in touch with what matters in life, but in any case, job candidates want benefits that support them in having an easier family or personal life. A majority expect their prospective employer to have paid parental leave (67%), commuter benefits (66%), and a childcare stipend (52%).

What can an employer do? Stay attuned to the needs and aspirations of your employees. Support them in having balanced lives now, and preparing themselves for growth. The result can be more productive and loyal employees, who will be able to contribute more to the organization now and in the future.

Find out more

For more insight into what job seekers expect from employers today, including tips for competitive hiring, download our free report: Employee Expectations in Hiring: Rethinking Compensation Strategies to Attract Talent in the 2021 Job Market.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series to learn how the right HR technology can help you to retain talent.

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