The Great Resignation has led to employees working overtime to compensate for being understaffed and Professional Services firms especially scrambling to hire the right talent to meet client needs.

The term Great Resignation has been a focus area of discussion in the past few months. The tendency for employees to leave has been there for a while, but the pandemic accelerated the phenomenon, leaving people-centric organizations like Professional Services to find new solutions to deal with the situation.

What is meant by the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is a phenomenon where people left their jobs in droves and the attrition rates were so high across different industries that the leadership had to sit up and take notice of what was happening. While a section of the workforce left for better opportunities, there was also a section that just got tired of working and left the job market altogether.

In some ways, a talent crunch was expected to some extent. For about a decade there has been a growing realization in the US that there weren’t enough people with enough communication and analytical skills to replace the current workforce. Firms were preparing for a “talent cliff”. But no one expected the accelerated rate of resignations that was a direct consequence of the pandemic.

There were those who had hoped that the Great Resignation will slow down in 2022, as the pandemic neared its end and the economy started to open up again. But they were wrong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in February 2022, which suggests that there may be more turbulence in the job market as businesses navigate through the year.

What is driving the Great Resignation?

There are a number of factors that led to the Great Resignation.

  • Increased workload due to increased business and team members resigning
  • Challenges in adjusting to work from home setup with low team collaboration and too many virtual meetings
  • Low work-life balance, especially for those who have to manage childcare, eldercare, etc.
  • Limited career advancement opportunities in current organization
  • Urge for mid-career and senior leaders to retire and spend more time following their passion

What are the consequences of the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation arguably impacts Professional Services more than any other industry. The quality of the workforce and relationships they build is the foundation for the profitability and future growth of the business. When employees leave, businesses have to worry about finding the right talent to fill those vacancies, ensure projects are delivered on time and with expected quality standards, and continue to build those client relationships.

The focus on hiring talent and growing the business often leads to current employees pushed down the priority list. Those who stayed back and picked up the slack only to see new members join with handsome pay raises makes them consider a career move too. This creates a new cycle to attrition for the firm.

There are clear signs that show when employees are preparing to seek greener pastures. Some of these signs include:

  • An unusual uptick in the leave applications
  • Team members going quiet in meetings
  • Doing just enough at the job and not taking any new initiatives

Keeping an eye on these signs will help you take remedial measures and improve employee retention.

How to manage the great resignation?

There are a number of measures you can take in order to retain your top talent and focus your energies on growing the business rather than managing employee attrition.

  • Identify overworked and idle team members and allocate work more efficiently
  • Plan resource requirements early by evaluating the sales pipeline and the backlog
  • Improve new hire onboarding time and time to start work on billable projects
  • Create transparent career paths and steps for employees
  • Encourage virtual consulting and remote work for better work-life balance

Great resignation solutions you need to hire and retain the best talent

While it is easier for a small Professional Services firm to take steps to mitigate the impact of the Great Resignation, it becomes increasingly difficult as the size and complexity of the business grows. Growing businesses should implement solutions like Professional Services Automation (PSA), ERP, CRM, and Human Resources management software. When you have these systems in place and they are all connected, you gain the visibility and insights you need to make better decisions.

For example, if you have the CRM, HR, and PSA solutions connected, you will know what deals are in the pipeline, what skills you need to look for while hiring, and by when you need to have everything in place for a successful project kick-off.

You will also need good collaboration tools. A regular online chat and virtual meetings tool should be a good start, but you will need a solution that allows you to do much more. Microsoft Teams, for instance, allows you to share files, assign tasks, track progress, chat, take meetings, and more.

With the right solution in place to avoid great resignation, you can build a high-performance team that is engaged and committed. You will also create a winning work culture that will attract the best talent.

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