Home The Great Resignation Explained Through Data: How Businesses Can Thrive

The Great Resignation Explained Through Data: How Businesses Can Thrive

It’s becoming increasingly well documented that knowledge workers across the country are leaving their jobs. For some, it’s a case of plain old burnout, while for others, it’s a matter of re-prioritizing.

In March 2021, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index report found 41% of workers globally thought about quitting their jobs. In addition, 54% of the people surveyed stated they are overworked, while 39% said they are exhausted.

Indeed’s findings back this data up: “urgent” hiring needs are up 50% since the start of the year. Larger trend data from the U.S. government also show there are not enough workers to fill open roles across the economy.

Enterprises across the country are struggling to hire right now and are finding that workers’ expectations are shifting. Referred to as the “Great Resignation,” this shortage of workers poses unique challenges to businesses and may transform the way our society functions moving forward. 

Braintrust findings: A worker’s market

Braintrust, a user-owned talent network, did a recent study exploring how the needs of knowledge workers line up with open roles across the country. They analyzed open job positions at over 600 of the biggest brands and well-known businesses in the U.S.

The report looked at over 150,000 open knowledge worker roles. It shows a median of 66 open roles per business. 6% of businesses need to hire more than 1,000 workers.

A closer look into the situation finds that technical roles are in especially high demand. Nearly 1 in 3 technical roles currently need to be filled at businesses across the country.

Competition for knowledge roles and specifically technical ones is high. So, it’s important for your business to stand out as an employer for the knowledge workers you already employ. But, you must also understand how to attract the new employees your growing business will need in the future.

Understanding what knowledge workers want during the Great Resignation

After a year, when everyone’s world was turned upside down, knowledge workers had to adapt. Braintrust surveyed 800 knowledge workers across the world to learn about their needs and expectations. Their responses may not be what you would expect. 

Only 4% of knowledge workers said traditional benefits like health insurance and 401(k)s are reasons they prefer full-time employment. Instead, greater freedom to choose when and how much they work is of greater importance to them in a job. Surprisingly, many do not see full-time employment as more secure than independent freelance work.

Although Zoom fatigue is real, knowledge workers said that location freedom and remote work were most important to them in a job, with 2 out of 3 workers surveyed considering those issues to be their highest priority. Other popular benefits included being your own boss, choice of job, and choice of hours. 

Three things your business can do to attract knowledge workers

Being an attractive employer during the Great Resignation starts with catering to what knowledge workers want most: freedom. This is no easy task, as many companies have long-standing structures wedding them to an office culture. However, continuing business as usual could have devastating effects on your company, as the worker shortage shows no signs of letting up. 

Here are three ways to adapt your business to attract skilled knowledge workers and overcome hiring challenges posed by the Great Resignation.

1. Offer location freedom

The biggest disconnect, according to Braintrust, is the gap between the roles employers are trying to fill and the expectations of the workers they seek. While the past year would suggest more and more companies are going remote, only 6% of open knowledge worker roles are actually hiring as remote first. Because 67% of knowledge workers say they want location freedom, the best way to give your company an edge and attract applicants to these high-demand positions is to offer remote roles

Offering remote jobs is also helpful because of the disconnect between where qualified knowledge workers live and where knowledge worker roles most need to be filled. For example, 29% of open knowledge worker jobs are in the South. But, the number of remote-first openings is the smallest in the South. By offering remote jobs, your can draw in some of the best talent from around the country, no matter where you’re based. Offering remote positions also demonstrates that your company listens to the needs of its employees and is responsive to those needs

“If you don’t have to bring someone into your office, it opens up the set of people you’re willing to consider for a job,” Harvard Business School Professor Chris Stanton told Braintrust. “I think that this forced experimentation meant that some firms or some leaders who didn’t think that this would have been possible have now realized that they can pull off different models relative to what they had experience with.”

2. Give workers more job choice 

Another important step in attracting skilled knowledge workers during the Great Resignation is to give employees more freedom to choose their projects or assignments. 47 percent of knowledge workers interviewed said job choice was a top requirement in looking for a position. To draw in skilled knowledge workers, make it clear that your company works alongside employees to ensure the projects they are assigned align with their interests.

Giving workers more freedom to choose projects that interest them will ultimately boost your bottom line. Employees who are genuinely interested in their assignments will be more motivated to excel in their work. Management styles that rely on trust and freedom are usually more enticing to knowledge workers who want greater choice in their jobs. These management styles are some of the best ways to overcome the challenges posed by the great resignation.

3. Consider hiring freelancers

According to Braintrust, freelancing may be the future. Over the next few years, many predict independent, and freelance workers will need to be woven into the fabric of most companies. As of now, 85% of knowledge workers said they were open to becoming a freelancer. Reconsider if you need to hire full-time employees or if you can hire independent workers, instead. Many predict the inclusion of independent workers to be the future of employment.

Hiring more freelancers can be a win-win because it affords greater freedoms to workers. It also offers greater variety and expertise to businesses looking to hire. Try this, and it’ll help your business weather the Great Resignation, and take advantage of the rapidly evolving hiring environment. 

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Brad Anderson
Former editor

Brad is the former editor who oversaw contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase.

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