The “Great Resignation” has brought a critical realization to the forefront: American works are experiencing profound fatigue. Many have determined that their workplace environments and work-life balance fell short of expectations, leaving them physically and emotionally drained. As we contemplate the events of the past couple of years, one question still looms large: Has anything really changed? As a result, there is a substantial surplus of job openings, with numerous companies grappling with an excess of available positions.
Attrition rates were already on the rise pre-pandemic, as highlighted by Donald Sull in his January 2022 MIT Sloan Management Review article, “Toxic Culture is Driving the Great Resignation.” Sull stated that “Much of the media discussion about the Great Resignation focused on employee dissatisfaction with wages.” While wage dissatisfaction played a role in attrition, toxic work environments are also to blame for employee departures. Sull detailed areas where companies and managers are failing. Recognizing individual performance, job insecurity and frequent reorganizations, fast-paced innovation which often means tight deadlines and shifting priorities, and a poor response to Covid-19 were all significant contributing factors.
This overall discontent with the workplace has left countless job openings unfilled. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July 31, 2023, there were 8.8 million job openings, while August unemployment rate stood at a low 3.8%. Job participation rose by 0.2% in August, indicating that a small number of individuals are returning to the workforce. However, a remarkable 3.5 million individuals voluntarily made the decision to exit their positions in July, with the majority transitioning to new roles. This has given rise to a job market scenario unparalleled in contemporary history.
To gain insights into regional trends, we spoke with Erin Olson, Senior Director of Strategic Research at RealTime Talent in St. Paul, Minnesota. Olson noted a rapid increase in hybrid job postings being advertised in their region, with over 438,000 unique job postings in the past 12 months for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metropolitan Statistical Area. The region currently has an unemployment rate of 2.6%. Her group has seen fully remote positions decline recently but hybrid positions continue to increase.
We also consulted with Dawn Hendricks, President & CEO at FM Talent Source, a minority and woman-owned enterprise that offers workforce solutions nationwide. Hendricks emphasized that while they have more than 60 open positions, “heightened quit rates and a workforce attrition of around 30% nationwide has intensified competition for talent.” She stressed the importance of organizations prioritizing employee satisfaction and implementing robust retention strategies. Employees seek a sense of belonging, especially when working remotely, and Hendricks believes that nurturing cohesive team culture is vital for unlocking employees’ full potential. Her innovative management style was recently featured on “The American Dream” for Bloomberg TV. FM Talent Source has been able to attract and retain top talent since small businesses seem to have an edge over larger companies by offering a personal style of management and a caring attitude towards their employees.
Today’s workforce differs significantly from that of a decade ago. The competitive talent landscape benefits job seekers, but it also impacts productivity and a company’s bottom line. Filling vacant positions may align with company goals, but true employee satisfaction extends beyond this, encompassing aspects such as compensation, workplace culture, and remote work options. As long as job opportunities remain open, employees will continue exploring new possibilities. The evolving job market puts workers in charge while companies may find more challenges than in the past.
FutureCommPR Group is headquartered in San Francisco, CA and New York City. Our focus is on brand recognition for startups and small businesses. Jim Burkhart is the Executive Director. FutureCommPR