CHARLOTTE – For all those executives who believe that the worst is over when it comes to employee recruitment turnover and retention, a new survey finds that the “Great Resignation” is far from over. In fact, it’s getting worse.

So says a new national survey from Charlotte-based isolved, a human resources technology firm.

The so-called Great Resignation, which dates to the COVID pandemic in 2020 and the turmoil it created not only in healthcare but jobs (remote working) and children not allowed to attend school in person plus job burnout, has continued into 2022 with inflation and other economic concerns hammering consumers. Fears of a looming recession add to the aggravation.

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“Data shows employees are more anxious, burnt-out and financial security-driven than ever,” warns James Norwood, chief strategy officer at isolved. “To combat these concerns, HR departments of all sizes must evaluate what they can automate and gain efficiencies in, enhance what they can to improve employee experience and extend the impact of their team. Only then, can businesses recruit and retain the people who want to make an impact through the obstacles we may face in 2023 and beyond.”

Not all data indicates a worsening trend, however. The national “quit rate” as defined by the US Department of Labor (“the number of quits during the entire month as a percent of total employment”) declined a bit to 2.6% of the workforce in October from 2.7% in September and from 2.8% in October 2021.

But the challenges facing employers are still daunting.

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Rather than fading over time, employee unhappiness is higher going into 2023 with the percentage of workers climbing to 49% from 45% earlier this year, isolved says.

The reasons for that unhappiness, however, are different than in the days of COVID, the survey found.

“With the strain of an unstable work environment likely to continue in 2023, the data indicates employers will need to continue to focus on recruitment with shortened timelines, retention strategies that work and reinforcement of a company’s ability to navigate an economic downturn,” isolved points out.

More pay is a key demand

How different?

With inflation running at levels not seen in decades, the top concern of those surveyed now is 62% want more money.

They’re also looking for better benefits and more “work-life flexibility” including hours and where they labor for their employers, the survey found.

However, despite ongoing challenges in filling millions of open jobs across the U.S., isolved reported in September that another survey found that just over half of companies were bumping up benefits.

“With recruiting and retention challenges escalating for every business size and type, it may come as a surprise that 54 percent of employers have not expanded their benefits offerings over the last year,” isolved reported.

Donald Thompson, a contributing columnist about management issues to WRAL TechWire and a seasoned executive, wrote in a column published Wednesday that HR executives may want to improve benefits in the face of growing financial challenges.

“The belt-tightening that many organizations are experiencing makes it more critical that C-suite leaders take on projects across function areas,” he wrote. “For example, bringing the chief marketing officer and the chief human resources officer together can energize both areas and make the CEO happy in the process.”

Recession threat

Then there is a possible recession in the New Year.

“Despite this year’s employee-centric job market, employees see a possible recession as the biggest threat to job security (more than 1 in 4 employees don’t feel secure in their current position),” isolved says. “Fears of economic downturn and day-to-day stressors have employees experiencing burnout at an unprecedented rate (69 percent of employees experienced burnout this year). ”

That brings to attention what has emerged as “Quiet Quitting.”

While still on the job, “45 percent of respondents noting that they are not as ]enthusiastic’ as they could be and 26 percent performing their required responsibilities but nothing more indicating Quiet Quitting might continue, isolved reports.

So how can companies deal with these challenges?

isolved suggests:

  • Nurture Peer Relationships: A third (32 percent) of full-time employees say what they most like about their current job is their relationship with coworkers. As the top answer, this response received nearly double the responses than benefits (17 percent) and their daily work (17 percent).
  • Map Employee Careers: Fifty-nine percent of respondents feel their employer could do more to advance their career with nearly a quarter (21 percent) feeling there isn’t room for growth within their company.
  • Benchmark Market Value: The top way employers can improve company culture, according to respondents, is to pay market value, followed by improving internal communications – particularly critical with pay-transparency laws taking effect through the U.S. and navigating job-security concerns, respectively.
  • Tap Into Data Sources: In a time when efficiencies matter most, HR leaders can take comfort in that most employees (77 percent) are comfortable with their employer examining personal data if it means a better employee experience.
  • Create a Better Candidate Experience: Despite the need for shortened recruiting timelines and a tight labor market, nearly half of employers (46 percent) are providing a poor applicant experience.

isolved offers more ideas and strategies in its report “Pause, Pivot or Plan: HR Trends of 2023“.