As 2022 begins, it’s clear that a lot of workplace trends, like employee recruiting and retention, have began popping up last fall will take hold and grow into a bigger deal during the New Year. 

Here’s one that a lot of organizations will suddenly be compelled to focus on: employee retention. 

It’s the logical outcome of the “Great Resignation” (aka, the Big Quit), and even if it seems that companies are slow to respond — only 16% of organizations rank employee retention and engagement as a top priority, according to a survey in VentureBeat — even those that haven’t been paying attention will soon discover that it’s a lot better to work on keeping the employees you have than trying to recruit new ones to take their place. 

The Harvard Business Review describes it like this: 

The challenge is severe. Some (say) they’re seeing upwards of 30% attrition in certain job categories. Some industrial clients have told us that some of their plants have had more than 100% employee turnover since March 2020. In other segments, especially technology and data science, employers describe the turnover and churn as “unrelenting.” … (And) the current turmoil in the labor market isn’t likely to subside anytime soon.  

Employers need to recognize that it takes significantly longer to recruit someone than it does for them to give their two-week notice and depart. The solution, then, is to immediately bolster retention while ramping up recruiting. To do so, companies need to get on the same page with employees by reconceptualizing what it means to be part of their organization. 

55% of Employees Say They’re Likely to Look for a New Job 

Fuel50, an AI-driven talent marketplace platform, made the case for better retention in its Global Talent Mobility Best Practice Research, saying:  

People are actively looking to grow and develop and are seeking opportunities to move forward in their careers. Organizations need to power up their leaders to be ready, willing, and able to support with their employee’s learning and development. … The more people feel supported in their individual goals, the more they will be engaged and feel the organization is doing everything possible to offer them growth experiences, help build their career, and, ultimately, keep them on board.

Internal recruitment, career development and upskilling are all absolutely in demand right now. People are willing — some might say dying — to learn more within their current organization and even their current role. They are actively looking to grow and develop and are seeking opportunities to move forward in their careers. 

As Fuel50 explained in its Best Practice Guide to Internal Talent Mobility:

Driven employees want transparency into opportunities to learn new skills, take on different assignments, shadow on projects, find mentors and volunteer opportunities, and work with different teams and managers — looking internally for personal growth journeys and new challenges.

GEM Recruiting AI

All that sounds good, but the bigger issue is pretty simple: Why aren’t organizations doing more to foster better employee retention by working to offer them better opportunities for career growth without having to go somewhere else? 

It’s a good question, especially given some other data points that came out of the research: 

  • 50% of employees said it’s easier to find a new job outside their organization than inside. 
  • Less than 33% of organizations have the technology to see their talent.
  • Only 29% of HR leaders said employees had the tools to explore career paths internally. 
  • 55% of employees said they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. 
  • Social networks are the No. 1 source of hires followed by job boards. 
  • Over 75% of organizations have strategic priorities to increase internal mobility. 

The Future of Work is… Providing a Flexible Work Environment 

My Take on Employee Retention

Recruiting has always been a critical talent acquisition and management function, but if anything it has been overemphasized as the primary way to build a staff to the exclusion of any meaningful retention efforts by far too many organizations. 

Or to put it another way, finding and hiring new employees seems to be the primary focus for most, while working to retain the people you already have mostly gets ignored. 

HBR probably described it as well as anyone when they wrote: 

The future of work is going to be providing flexible work environments in terms of place, time, job description, and career paths. Embrace it. Better yet, have employees form teams to create their future of work. If people help build their dream home, they’ll want to live in it. … We don’t have to resign ourselves to the empty chairs and a continuing tide of resignations. Decisive action is what’s needed, and it’s needed now.

In other words, recruiting is important, but retention is the way to not only build a better workforce but to relieve the pressure on your recruiters by easing their load as well. 

Recruiting and retention should be joined at the hip and equally important for smart organizations. In 2022, and beyond, you really can’t have one without the other.

John Hollon

John Hollon is managing editor at Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. You can download the research reports in their Global Talent Mobility Best Practice Research series at Fuel50.