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While the job market continues to fluctuate, there’s one trend that’s picking up speed: employee turnover. A March 2021 survey from Morning Consult and Prudential found that 26% of respondents plan to look for a new employer once “the threat of the pandemic has decreased.” As the United States inches closer to herd immunity, employers need to be ready for this shift.

In this unique time, organizations must prepare for two specific changes: the new and evolving needs of 2021’s candidates and the potential loss of employees who may have stayed only as a result of a pandemic.

Don’t risk losing time or money on lost employees or lost opportunity in what is quickly becoming a competitive job market. Instead, prepare for the 2021 talent churn with these strategies.

Review Your Succession Plan

The first quarter of 2020 (Q1 2020) saw a record amount of CEO turnover, and 2021 is following a similar trajectory, with 307 CEOs having left their positions in Q1 2021. After seeing and navigating some of the most trying times as chief executive, many CEOs are ready to relinquish their role. This means your company needs to review its succession plan—not just for CEOs but also for leadership positions across the board.

Losing a leader, whether the person’s at the CEO or the director level, is disruptive to the team. Leadership roles can also be challenging to fill because the people in them need to be dynamic and strategic. Forty-eight percent of business leaders are already concerned about their team’s ability to take on strategic projects right now, making a loss in any area of leadership even more challenging to overcome.

A clear succession plan helps organizations plan for this element of turnover, but don’t stop there. Review your succession plan through the lens of change in culture and work environment. Take a more humanistic approach, considering:

  • Location
  • Spouse
  • Child care
  • Remote work options
  • Leadership compassion

Audit Your Employer Branding

Now is the time to be asking: “How do we want to go to market with future recruitment marketing?” In other words, how do we want to represent ourselves to potential candidates? While this should address your company values, it should also focus on what you can offer candidates based on their evolving needs.

Post-COVID, those needs have changed drastically. First and foremost, the same Prudential report found that 73% of all workers surveyed want employers to continue offering and expanding remote work options after the pandemic is over. Your flexible and remote work options should be a key element of your 2021 employer branding.

Don’t forget to consider some of the major themes that play a role in your employer brand, including:

  • Health benefits, both physical and mental
  • Social justice and workplace inclusivity
  • Transparency and communications

Evaluate Company Culture Shifts

Company culture isn’t what it used to be—the key tenets of a great company culture remain the same. For example, OC Tanner’s 2021 Global Culture Report found the top talent magnets, or “core elements of culture that together determine an employee’s decisions to join, engage with, and remain at any place of work,” have changed very little year over year (YoY). The top three include:

  • Sense of purpose: -2% YoY change
  • Sense of opportunity: -2% YoY change
  • Sense of success: -1% YoY change

Now is the time to reevaluate how your company culture will maintain these elements of culture in the new remote and hybrid work environment. Not only is this key for attracting talent, but it’s also important for retaining talent to avoid high turnover rates in your own organization.

Make a Plan to Retain Top Talent

Companies need to know how they plan to retain top talent during this major talent churn. The cost of losing a senior-level employee is felt financially in many ways. Consider both the financial cost to acquire an employee—think: advertisements, search firm fees, and time spent interviewing—and pauses in projects, reduced productivity, and overall employee stress and anxiety.

One way to mitigate these costs is to prepare for this potential turnover by asking a few key questions:

  • Do we have a counteroffer process? If employees leverage a new offer or put in their resignation, what will we offer in return?
  • Are we willing to revise the work environment permanently?
  • Do we have a good line of sight around each individual’s personal needs outside of the workplace?
  • Are we willing to evaluate performance more on tangible outcomes and less on intangibles?
  • Are we able to build a plan to address a more holistic view of employee needs at all levels?

With these answers, organizations can then update internal policies to ensure employees are retained.

Hire Third-Party Support

Despite a large amount of turnover, the 2021 job market is competitive and candidate-driven. Without the right support, like that of a professional search firm, it can be challenging to attract the best people for your company; a great search firm will develop a symbiotic relationship with your team, understanding the company and the culture.

More importantly, third-party support in this role can provide clarity that may be hard to obtain from the inside. Leaders often have a very tight scope on the hiring situation and don’t always see what the talent marketplace expects or needs. Therefore, this outside perspective can be invaluable to finding the best talent for the company.

Finally, this type of support saves executives time, which translates to money. Search firms can often be more timely because of their access to tools and resources most organizations don’t have. When navigating this turnover environment, that expertise and support can be invaluable.

Prepare for the 2021 Talent Churn

Organizations need to use this time to prepare for both losing current talent and gaining new talent. This is why it’s critical to get clear on your employer branding, company culture, succession plans, retention policies, and need for outside support. If you’re not ready to retain the talent you have or capture the ones who are perfect for open positions, you risk losing market position. Use these strategies to prepare ahead of time so you’re ready to make the most of what will likely be an unprecedented hiring season.

Comhar Partners is a recognized national leader in retained executive search, professional recruiting, and talent advisory services. Comhar, derived from the Gaelic word meaning “collaboration,” was formed with the intention of providing recruiting expertise in deep partnership with the client in order to solve talent management challenges. Comhar Partners is headquartered in Chicago, with specialized recruiting consultants based in seven offices across the country.