How the Great Resignation is Reshaping the Labor Force

  • First Bank
  • 02/01/2022
  • Business
  • Article

It’s no secret the ongoing pandemic crisis has changed nearly every aspect of daily living in some manner. From the way we shop for goods and services to the way in which we work at our jobs, the pandemic has been a catalyst for abrupt change.

Businesses of all sizes are grappling with how best to deliver their products and services without appropriate staffing. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in the United States today, it is estimated there is currently less than one qualified applicant or worker per every available open position; notably, this is documented as being the lowest ratio it’s ever been. It also indicated that over 94 percent of local chambers agreed that area businesses were finding it difficult to hire and retain qualified employees.

The bigger issue for businesses is that they’re only as good as the people they employ.

Maggie Curcio, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for First Bank, said, “The retirement-eligible part of our workforce benefited from the solid performance of the Stock Market and investments and decided to leave the workforce early. This coupled with the impact and challenges of the pandemic created the perfect storm of a labor shortage now known as the Great Resignation.”

Although the labor shortage is impacting all businesses, the smaller businesses, or those with less resources, are having the most difficult time retaining and hiring eligible staffing. Curcio commented, “Businesses need to remember that employees are motivated differently. Some are motivated by money, but others may really want more flexibility, reduced responsibilities, better benefits, or simply the option of access to employer-sponsored healthcare or retirement plan options.”

She went on to say that business owners should try rethinking experienced talent and not assume they wouldn’t take a lesser role in exchange for less hours and pay in order to continue to work in semi-retirement. “Be open and creative with the types of roles you offer, especially to the seasoned talent you employ. Have those candid, direct conversations with individuals. Offering a senior, experienced employee the option of reduced hours with access to a company’s healthcare or bonus plan, may just be the right solution for both the employee and the business.”

Find out more about the challenges businesses often face with newfound growth.

Curcio expounded that employers need to get creative and have an open mindset to different ways of working. The outdated working model of 40-plus hours at one, centralized location is really no longer the norm. This new way of working, however, doesn’t only apply to senior staff. “The Generation Z population, or workers in their early 20’s, are just going to move and change jobs more frequently than their predecessors. Most employees at all stages of their career also now expect some type of hybrid work environment that offers in-person work coupled with remote or 100% remote roles where applicable. It’s the new norm and we will have to embrace it,” she said.

Companies of all sizes should consider redesigning their talent acquisition efforts. “There will need to be a massive overhaul in the ways in which people think of work,” said Curcio. “That may mean your talent pool isn’t departmentalized by a specific job title but more capabilities-based for the organizational-wide efforts. Think of it as a project-based environment versus a standard hierarchy of power.” She went on to explain that business leaders should consider the skillset of younger pipeline leaders. “They may need to be pulled up sooner into leadership positions versus requiring a standard number of years of relevant work experience in order to obtain or be promoted to a certain role.”

If smaller and mid-sized businesses are open to offering unique work environments and platforms, they have a greater advantage at staying competitive with their larger counterparts in this talent acquisition race. Offering employee “soft” benefits like flexible work arrangements, hybrid and/or remote work options, retention or sign-on bonuses, flat organizational structures, wellness incentives, collaborative cultures, recognition-based awards, education and training, updated technology, meaningful work, and/or volunteer opportunities can be the viable advantage that an organization needs for workforce retention and development.

According to the Korn Ferry article, “The Future of Work Trends in 2022,” employees are asking themselves some hard questions about the work they perform, who it benefits, and if it’s meaningful to them. Businesses may want to consider getting employees involved with their philanthropic efforts, publicizing their community enrichment or betterment efforts or even increasing community involvement, working toward environmental sustainability, and developing more agile work environments with individual accountability.  “I’d encourage business owners to continue to be thought leaders in their industry or space,” she added. Curcio suggested staying ahead by reading great resources, such as the book “Work Without Jobs: How to Reboot Your Organization’s Work Operating System” written by Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau. “This book is an excellent new body of research related to how the work environment will need to change in the future. With ongoing research and some creativity, businesses can develop a forward-thinking work model that works best for everyone.”

Automated tools and solutions to help organizations with payroll and tax processing is an essential element of employee compensation. With First Bank’s partnership with Paychex®, an industry leader in payroll and human resources services, First Bank can assist in developing customized solutions for employee time and attendance, pre-employment screening services, and payroll processing for your organization.  Click to find out more about First Bank’s payroll solutions.


The Future of Work Trends in 2022: A New Era of Humanity,” Korn Ferry
Work Without Jobs: How to Reboot Your Organization’s Work Operating System,” Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau