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Recently, on my way to an industry conference where I was slated to give a presentation on workforce trends and solutions, I happened to share a cab with a business owner. During the ride, he turned to me and asked, "Ok, then tell me... where the heck did everyone go? Where are the workers and how to we get them to come work for us?"

Where indeed! The truth is that workers have left their jobs for a variety of reasons to go to a variety of places. Initially, many thought that employees had left the workforce because of the incentive that the federal expansion of unemployment insurance benefits under the CARES and American Rescue Plan Acts provided.

However, as time passes, this explanation just doesn’t add up — the federal unemployment insurance benefits ended in September 2021, and yet, 4.4 million workers still quit their jobs in that same month. Moreover, an additional 4.2 million left or changed jobs in October 2021, and a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November. The Great Resignation continues to grow and shows no sign of abating.

Some have quit their jobs because of continued COVID hesitancy, and some because of ongoing childcare challenges, especially given the new Omicron variant and the fact that our youngest children still cannot get vaccinated. Others have quit their jobs because they are caregivers to elderly, vulnerable parents who remain at risk.

Somewhat unexpectedly, baby boomers are leading the workplace exodus faster than all other worker demographics. This so-called "Silver Tsunami" is having a significant impact, with nearly 30 million baby boomers leaving the job market in the third quarter of 2020 alone. Moreover, a recent study by Coventry showed that over 75 percent of the respondents planned to retire early — in large part because their retirement portfolios have grown significantly over the past few years, creating an incentive to retire completely or to take a break before considering a second or third career path.

Regardless of the age bracket, some workers have quit to seek the education or training necessary to launch a more stable, lucrative or fulfilling career path. Meanwhile, others have simply quit, choosing instead to work for a competing company that is able and willing to pay higher wages, offer greater work-life flexibility, offer remote work opportunities or provide a better culture.

Finally, some have quit their jobs because they have just had enough; they’re burned out, either emotionally, physically or psychologically. These individuals are taking a much-needed break to reset and renew, knowing that when the savings run low, there will be ample job opportunities for them to jump back into the labor market.

What’s an employer to do? Well, it starts with a shift of mindset and these five steps:

1. Imagine the talent you want and S.W.O.T. them

Who are you looking to hire? Is it someone with maturity and experience? Someone with less experience but lots of enthusiasm? Someone local or someone remote?

Visualize the talent you seek and work to understand what your desired employees look like. What do you want? Too often, business leaders fail to recognize the unique needs and wants in terms of talent and focus instead on what they as employers want.

When considering the needs of potential hires, it’s important to consider one of the most disruptive changes to the modern workplace — remote work and workplace flexibility. According to research conducted by the Forrester Research Group, prior to the recent COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 10 percent of employers reported having some form of a hybrid workplace, meaning that one or more employee worked one or more days per week remotely, either part time or full-time. As of May 2021, 60 percent of employers planned to embrace a hybrid work model, and 10 percent plan to go completely remote moving forward.

Many of the decisions to move to a hybrid model of work are being driven by employees themselves. According to FlexJobs.com, more than 50 percent of workers want to maintain a hybrid work schedule once the pandemic ends, and 33 percent are willing to quit their current jobs if they are not allowed to work remotely at least some of the time. Twenty-seven percent would be willing to take a pay cut of up to 25 percent to work remotely, and 81 percent say they would feel more loyal.

What do your potential employees want in their lives and in their jobs? Don’t know? Just ask the ones who already work for you and who are in the same demographic: what do they want and like about their jobs? What are their strengths, and how can you maximize those assets while minimizing the weaknesses and threats that they may possess — and, at the same time, offer them a sense of opportunity?

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How To Improve Job Postings