One only needs to look at the number of resignations over the past year to understand how the term “Great Resignation” came to be. The Great Resignation can be assumed to have started in the Feb/March 2021 period, when resignations set a record high of 3,695,000. Every subsequent month since then, resignations have stayed above that number as the graph below indicates. In total, more than 47 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in 2021.

number of resignations by month (january 2021 to february 2022)
number of resignations by month (january 2021 to february 2022)

The magnitude of resignations was at one time thought to indicate that workers of all ages were leaving the workforce, thereby further diminishing the current supply of labor. What has become clearer over time is that Americans between the ages of 25 and 54, the prime working years, have rejoined the labor force at only a slightly lower level than before the pandemic (see the Labor Participation Rate graph below). Most workers haven’t left jobs to stop working, but to take on new jobs entirely. Some of the evidence for this can be found by looking at the quit rates and hiring rates for the Professional and Business Services sector, which includes many of the STEM occupations — hiring rates have been exceeding quit rates by significant margins.

labor force participation rate (25-54 yrs)
labor force participation rate (25-54 yrs)

what is inducing workers to leave for other jobs? 

Good workers have many options in the current economic environment, and organizations don’t have the luxury of thinking they are invulnerable to losing seemingly satisfied employees. Recent research by Gallup found that one in four U.S. employees have been recruited in the past three months, and one in ten said that they have been recruited during that time despite not actively looking for a new job. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 40 percent of U.S. workers are actively searching for a new job — this is double the rate they found in research conducted in 2019. 

Many factors induce workers to leave their current jobs for new ones. Higher salaries and better benefits are two of the main inducements, but a survey conducted last August found that almost two-thirds of employees said they would leave their jobs because of a lack of growth and training opportunities. In this same survey, 97 percent of tech industry employees said that strong training and upskilling programs are a major draw in considering a prospective employer. Another survey conducted by The Harris Group of U.S. employees found that 70 percent were at least somewhat likely to leave their current company to accept a job with an organization known for investing in employee learning and development.

In addition to helping retain employees, consider this: The Association for Talent Development has assessed the impact of training employees on an organization’s bottom line and found that companies that offer training to their employees generate 218 percent higher income per worker and have a 24 percent higher profit margin compared to companies that don’t offer similar programs. The costs of losing productivity and knowledge, having to find and hire skilled replacement workers (assuming you can find them) and the unrealized profit gains combine to extract a heavy toll on organizations already burdened by increasing operating costs.

review your upskilling and reskilling programs today

When it comes to retaining the best workers, organizations need to be creative and proactive. Companies that have learning and development (L&D) programs need to revisit them now to make sure they offer the skill-building courses employees want and that the organization most urgently needs — all in a manner fitting to their employees’ schedules and modes of learning. 

Organizations must understand which skills they need their workforce to acquire to both improve organizational productivity and fit their employees’ expectations to grow professionally. Surveying both employees and their managers can help identify the skills teams need to succeed and which employees require new training. The time spent on research and planning will pay off in more effective L&D programs. 

Not everyone learns best using the same mode of training. Some employees might find an offsite, multiday event effective, whereas others might benefit from a more focused micro-learning offering using online sessions, videos and personal mentoring. Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach. Try to match training formats to individual learning styles. 

Given Randstad’s technology staffing and solutions offerings, we are attuned to the changing market demands for various technical skills. Our clients can leverage our insights as a real-time barometer of which skills are growing in importance — as well as which skills are not. 

We’ve applied our experience and knowledge to identify and establish partnerships with some of the premier technology training organizations including Udemy and MindTools. We’ve also created a Talent Development Program, which has solved pain points for numerous clients, as well as the Veteran Center of Excellence to meet the vibrant demand for reskilling and upskilling. Our own Randstad RiseSmart offering provides coaching and certifications to people in career transitions.

Learn more about Randstad's commitment to skilling, and see all the ways we're working to build a workforce where skills gaps are a thing of the past.