The Great Shuffle or Great Reshuffle - What's happening in 2022?

There is a lot of talk about the latest phase of recovery from the covid period. Have you noticed how everything is preceded by “Great.” Currently, the most popular term and discussion point goes under the label of “the great resignation”. It was where they were moved to post “the great rehire”, which followed “the great lock down.” Everything, it seems, has to be great, but is this great resignation really what it seems, or is it best described as “hyperbole.”

My view is that the “great resignation” is somewhat misleading, at least when looking through a talent acquisition lens. What we are really talking about is better termed “the great shuffle.”

I say this because the reality is that for the most part, people are not resigning without opportunities to go to. Whilst we are seeing unprecedented levels of resignations in organisations, we are also seeing unprecedented levels of hiring by organisations. Two sides of the same coin. I accept that in this market there are winners and losers. There will be some organisations who will not attract enough applicants to their open roles to fill the gaps created by the leavers. The number of people in work is growing across the globe. Those resigning are unlikely to be boosting the ranks of the unemployed, even if some are electing to take up consulting or gig work, spurred on by opportunities that sprung up during covid. Everyone who chose to spend covid down time exploring new opportunities, have developed either a side hustle or hobby, and some of this has led to new ways of earning. That said, still the vast majority have simply shuffled employers.

There are a few factors driving the shuffle that I have noticed as stand out trends, when we look at why folks are resigning at the rate they are:

- Top of the list is folks seeking to be re-energised. The covid times have been hard on people, not least the impact of the latest variants meaning many folks literally doing two jobs in one to cover for absent colleagues. Now the end of this covid period is in sight, people are just knackered, fed up and are re-energised by the prospect of change in pastures.

- There is no doubt that lockdowns spent with enforced time in the home has led to a real examination of work-life balance, particularly for employees with young families. A few years of being around, has led many people to realise how much they weren't around pre-covid. Whilst they are glad to not be permanently locked in, they are also insistent that things won't slip back to the way they were, and are entertaining opportunities, and employers that offer greater work life balance. This is sometimes hidden amongst the desire to continue with a degree of working from home or hybrid working, but ultimately is largely about more time for family, away from being imprisoned in an office day after day. 

We should also not ignore what is going on with salaries. Organisations, faced with high volumes of resignations, in areas where there was a shortage of qualified candidates pre-covid, are now adopting the tactic of throwing out the hail mary of significantly higher salary levels, as a means of attraction. Not slow to pick up on this, many folks in this category recognise that these market conditions will level up at some point. My view is that this will be as quick as 12 months, when the shuffling stops. Right now, in demand candidates have been quick to pick up on the greatly inflated offers that are on offer in the current market. They know that if they want to capitalise on this, then they need to be moving now. All of these factors lead to the perfect storm, where nobody is really passive, and everybody is open to offers.

The winners in this are those organisations who have been investing in pipelining talent over the last few years. The question though is what roles have sufficient shortage of talent available to approach, to merit the investment of resource, money and time in pipelining. For those organisations without a pipelining strategy, the alternative is to identify what roles either require rethinking (by way of redesign, relocating or campaigning.) Understanding the complexity to fill for each role has become a critical metric which is often being overlooked. The reality is not all jobs are not born equal. You don't start with an equal chance of filling each and every role as they arise. This is critical for determining attraction strategy by role, in order to allocate the resources needed.

I have read some discussion recently around calculating the cost of empty chair time, and using this to prioritise sourcing and attraction strategy. Whilst I get the sentiment, it is important to know what it is costing the business each day a role goes unfilled, i see it as too simplistic, and sometimes confusing in determining priority. Cost of empty chair time might be a useful headline in the attempt to grab some extra budget, but I see complexity to fill as the critical metric. 

In my next post, I'm going to share a model for calculating complexity to hire, and show how this is being applied to determine allocation of resources and investment. In the great reshuffle, what do you think it takes to be a winner?

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