The future workforce appears to be in the hands of the employees. There’s been a noticeable shift in power from the employer to the employee, with the number of Americans quitting their jobs now exceeding pre-pandemic highs for eight straight months.(1)

This “Great Resignation” has caused churn and turmoil as workers look for greener pastures and force companies to compete fiercely for new and replacement talent. Sometimes, those greener pastures are in different parts of the country where the city has a competitive—some might even say magical—edge, such as Austin. Other opportunity magnet metros include Seattle, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, Boston, and the San Francisco Bay Area.(2)

It could be easy to presume this trend is connected directly to the pandemic, and the pendulum will swing back in the other direction. However, if you consider the total employment numbers during the past dozen years, as illustrated in Figure 1 below, you can see this is not just short-term turmoil aggravated by the pandemic—but rather the prolongation of a long-term trend that shows no signs of shifting:(3)

This means the way organizations and their hiring managers manage their workforce needs to shift. Rather than continue to get hammered by employee unrest found in the Great Resignation, organizations must explore ways to embrace and leverage the Great Recruitment. (4)

First, let’s add up the initial backlash

For starters, organizations must recognize that 25% of employees are not satisfied with their experience at work. (5) Research shows toxic cultures cost U.S. companies almost $50 billion per year.(6)

The toxic culture was also the single biggest predictor of attrition during the first six months of the Great Resignation.(7) In fact, 68% of employees are rethinking what they want from their careers. (8)

In addition, a Talent Index survey revealed exactly what employees hope to see from employers this year. (9) Top of the wish lists for 2022 were flex time and a four-day workweek. (10) Meanwhile, research from the WFH research project shows that employees value flexibility as much as a 10% pay raise. (11)

In another study, over half of employees (56%) said pay is the top reason to look for a job with a different employer. But almost 20% said they would take a new job for the same pay—suggesting factors other than wages are important too. Health benefits, job security, flexible work arrangements, and retirement benefits were behind pay, respectively, as the top five reasons employees would move elsewhere. (12)

Countering the backlash with a boost in benefits

Those with leading HR organizations are flipping this trend on its head and approaching it as a “Great Recruitment” opportunity. They also see the trend as an opportunity to rethink business processes and how the company can close the skills gaps fast—with the least disruption to daily operations.

While it may be a coincidence that the percentage is nearly identical to that captured in the employee surveys, employers in the private sector have raised hourly pay by about 5% in the past year, according to federal data. (13) But that wage growth has been higher for job-switchers than those who keep the same job: they received raises of 5.8% versus 4.7%, respectively, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. (14)

Salary isn’t the only benefit getting a boost. 25% of North American companies and 22% of European firms surveyed said they would make more share grants in the future as part of their long-term incentive programs. 54 companies shared their budget for long-term incentive plans, worth a combined $6.6 billion. (15)

Re-think the employee-employer relationship with a value-based employee experience

By shifting the perspective to a new paradigm, organizations become increasingly more intelligent about the experiences that matter most to people at work. Better experience intelligence lays the groundwork for more impactful improvement efforts where they matter most. (16)

According to a collection of Forbes Communications Council members, these are the top 14 ways to make excellent employee experiences a core company value: (17)

  1. Prioritize effective communication first
  2. Start by trusting employees
  3. Make listening to an important part of the culture
  4. Get to know your employees personally
  5. Make every touchpoint supportive
  6. Create an employee-first experience
  7. Collect feedback from your employees
  8. Focus on positive values and aspirations
  9. Involve employees in creating core values
  10. Celebrate the small things
  11. Commit and be proactive about the employee experience every day
  12. Build a culture of space, tolerance, and capacity
  13. Make employees your best advocates
  14. Encourage open and honest communication

An important reminder: Company values are part of the company culture and can’t just be written on a piece of paper that’s shoved inside the new-hire packet only to be forgotten once the employee completes their new-hire training. Rather, these values must be discussed, practiced, reviewed, and even measured to ensure that they are being applied as intended.


What is employee experience?

Employee experience refers to everything an employee experiences at work—their interactions with their boss, their software, their teams, and hundreds of other things. It’s a holistic term that considers the full spectrum of an employee’s experiences throughout their entire time at a company. (18)

New staffing models align with employee experience to create a competitive edge

To master the Great Recruitment, you must first master the employee experience. Just because you think you “won” by getting those new hires, you may find that you were just being tried on for size.

Nearly half of those workers that switched said they would try to get their old job back. (19) More than 40% said they’d give their current employers two to six more months before switching again. (20)

Your challenge to keep your employees is likely due to the fact that you aren’t paying attention to what matters…to them. You might think you do, but you don’t—as the chart below illustrates:

(Image source: McKinsey) (21)

90% of companies are currently actively engaged in efforts to better understand and manage the human experience of work. (22) This can be a significant investment and may take a really long time to reap the rewards.

In the meantime, what can be done? Explore the opportunity to leverage trusted service providers to find the required talent and skills to not only keep your business running but also transform it to prepare for the future.

Taos, an IBM company, is a leader in providing multi-cloud and DevOps services to companies that want to accelerate cloud adoption while keeping their environments secure via modern agile delivery and management methodology. Taos has launched two new services, Taos Cloud Advisory Services and DevSecOps Now. Both are geared toward helping companies balance their talent needs and their growth priorities.

For more about the Great Recruitment, join Trish O’Sullivan, VP of Talent at Taos, for a webinar where she will take a closer look at how you can turn the staffing and skills gap situation around and get the resources you need to grow your business and keep up with innovation.


1 – How Companies Can Respond To The Rising Tide Of The Great Resignation, Forbes, January 2022

2 – Looking for a job-hunting edge? These 15 metros are opportunity magnets, George Anders on LinkedIn, March 2022

3 – The Great Resignation Didn’t Start with the Pandemic, Harvard Business Review, March 2022

4 – The great resignation is really the great recruitment, IBM, November 2021

5 – EX Intelligence Quarterly, TI People, April 2022

6 – The high cost of a toxic workplace culture, SHRM, September 2019

7 – Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Culture, MIT Sloan, March 2022

7 – Leaders, Stop Rewarding Toxic Rock Stars, Harvard Business Review, April 2022

8 – Gartner HR Research Finds 68% of Employees Would Consider Leaving Their Employer for an Organization That Takes a Stronger Stance on Societal and Cultural Issues, Gartner, March 2021

9 – Employees Have Upper Hand in Pandemic-Induced Power Shift, According to New “Beamery Talent Index”, Beamery, October 2021

10 – How Companies Can Respond To The Rising Tide Of The Great Resignation, Forbes, January 2022

11 – Professor who predicted ‘The Great Resignation’ shares the 3 trends that will dominate work in 2022 – WFH Research, January 2022

12 – The Great Resignation continues, as 44% of workers look for a new job, CNBC – Willis Towers Research, March 2022

13 – Big raises may be coming back down to earth, CNBC, March 2022

14 – 4.3 million people quit their jobs in January as the Great Resignation shows no sign of slowing down, CNBC – Wage Growth Tracker, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, March 2022

15 – ‘Great Resignation’ sees more companies offer equity to staff, Reuters, April 2022

16 – A defining moment for EX, TI People, May 2021

17 – 14 Ways To Make An Excellent Employee Experience A Core Company Value, Forbes, July 2021

18 – Employee experience and why it’s critical, Jostle, Accessed May 1, 2022

19 – More People Quit to Take a New Job From an Old Boss, Wall Street Journal, December 2021

20 – These People Who Quit Jobs During the Pandemic Say They Have Regrets, Wall Street Journal, April 2022

21 – Winning back your workers, McKinsey & Company, Accessed May 1, 2022

22 – A defining moment for employee experience — now’s the time to prove its value, XM Blog, June 2021