Americans are quitting their jobs by the millions in a cultural moment many are calling the Great Resignation, creating a highly competitive hiring environment that has left many managers feeling muddled or overwhelmed. This is particularly true in sales, where there are 137,000 jobs available in North America but only 91,000 people to fill them. That, combined with the fact that nearly a third of sales professionals quit their jobs last month, means that even the best companies with the tightest quotas are searching for top talent just as companies are poised for massive, fast-paced growth.
Employees have incredible power right now—and employers have an opportunity to reshape a work culture in a way that marries employee experience with revenue performance. As McKinsey stresses, the Great Resignation doesn’t have to be a negative. It can be a transition into the Great Attraction—a chance to build recruitment processes, leadership development, and company cultures that encourage autonomy, diversity, and growth.
Here are three ways to transform your talent search to put your employees—and your business—first.
Create a culture of growth
Fostering employee relationships doesn’t end after hiring and onboarding, of course. It only grows. After a new employee becomes part of a team, they want opportunities to change, develop, and challenge themselves. Companies that offer paths for employees to do this will be much more likely to retain workers—and attract new employees who hear about the company’s growth-oriented culture.
In the past, companies might have been afraid to invest lots of money or time in their employees, certain they could do an adequate job without too much guidance or fearing their efforts would be squandered if the employee went elsewhere. But especially with the rise of the Gen Z workplace—with a workforce hungry for opportunities and training and willing to go elsewhere if they don’t get it—developing your employees is mission-critical. Caroline Tarpey, VP of Sales & Growth at QuotaPath, starts from the moment the interview process begins, compiling a skills assessment of the candidate based on the job description as well as ways in which the company will help the candidate gain skills to meet career goals and when and how to target promotions.
QuotaPath also offers employees a chance to test drive management or alternate positions they’re interested in within the company—a process that helps the employee and company determine whether they’re ready for the job, but that also highlights skills and stumbling blocks both sides may not have been aware of.
Chili Piper offers personal mentoring as part of its benefits package, allowing employees to receive ongoing, targeted feedback about their career trajectory at every step while also providing department- and company-level analytics that help managers see what sorts of training and interventions their teams need most.
“[It’s about] constantly invoking a culture of development through a coaching program and following through so people don’t have mismatched expectations,” said Nalani Genser, Sr. Manager of Talent Development & Coaching at Chili Piper.
This is a crisis of mattering. Somewhere in the recruitment, hiring, onboarding, or development process, these employees fell through the cracks. They weren’t welcomed, mentored, or recognized for their accomplishments, so they went elsewhere.
Luckily, companies can incorporate common sense, but highly effective changes, to their hiring and retention processes to reverse the exodus—and they can do it by showing each employee that they are valued. This can start early in the recruitment process, with companies harnessing the power of social selling and human engagement on LinkedIn. In the interview process, a company can send welcome emails to candidates, followed by subsequent emails congratulating them on advancing in the process, letting them know that they’re part of an elite group, and giving them a sense of what to expect. When it comes to interviews and hiring, some companies, like QuotaPath, incorporate feedback directly into the application process, letting the candidate know what they’re doing well, what strengths they have, and what they can work on—as well as how the company would help them develop those skills if hired.
“It’s helped us have more honest conversations with candidates about their growth potential,” says Tarpey. “There is a documented foundation for developing the growth and skill set of the people who come on board, and we’ve mapped out how you earn promotions in each of these roles.”
Other companies, like Chili Piper, have a buddy system that matches a potential candidate with a person already in the company, giving them access to information, mentorship, and connection from the moment they are introduced to the brand. After the interview process, many companies put the personal touch on offers by bringing their C-suite into the decision-making, deal-offering and matching new hires with a designated onboarding and mentorship team right out the gate.
“[Our culture of growth] is so felt that our people know if [they] want to grow, [they] have ownership to backfill [themselves],” said Tyler Parson, Sr. Director of People at Chili Piper. “We have clear incentives to do that, an interview buddy system, and coaching through the interviewing process.”
This extra effort turns an often anonymous, discouraging application and onboarding process for both candidate and the company into a mutual, humane conversation where both sides can identify strengths, skills, and gaps to determine if the relationship would be a good fit—or how to turn a promising relationship into a rewarding, productive one.
Create a culture of autonomy
If the pandemic taught companies one thing, it’s that workers thrive in environments where they are given autonomy and flexibility—and that they’re not going back to the rigid, 9-5 way things were before. Companies that embrace the new hybrid model of work will be able to pick from an infinite pool of employees who will, in turn, be able to work on their own terms from their own homes on their own schedules. Building this sense of trust with your employees allows them to focus less on following protocols and regulations and more on the creativity and substance of their job—the work that actually benefits and drives your company forward.
But autonomy is not just about flexible work hours and locations. It’s also about autonomy at work—about shifting from a culture of overwork and burnout to work that is deliberate, human-centered, and centered on creativity. Chili Piper has designated Wednesdays as a day free from internal meetings and Slack communication—giving employees a chance to rest, recharge, and do the substantive work that often gets lost in the logistical shuffle.
Offering employees autonomy means ceding a bit of control. But it pays back in dividends—in trust, creativity, and productivity.
Attracting workers during a time of resignation and flux is not about quick fixes. It’s about a value shift—seeing employees as valuable members of a team and core contributors to a company’s success and growth. Companies that see that clearly will transform the Great Resignation into the Great Attraction, engaging employees who are hungry to contribute, change, and grow.