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The Two Problems Fueling the Great Resignation – and How to Solve Them

By Larry Solomon – Chief People Officer, SVP, EPAM Systems

Covid-19 has brought challenges to virtually every industry across the globe. But for many companies, the great resignation or the shockingly high quit rate of employees—tops the list. From “now hiring” signs in the windows of restaurants to an infestation of “recommended jobs for you” on LinkedIn, it’s no secret: there is a massive cultural reckoning happening in the labor market. So how do companies, well, reckon with it?

First, we need to examine the top two reasons why so many people are leaving their roles, and more significantly, their companies:

1. New Opportunities: What’s in It for Me?

Although Covid has taken numerous things away from us, one thing it has provided for many is an opportunity to reflect, specifically on their careers. People have begun to assess what’s really important to them. For instance, does the job offer good work-life balance? How does the company treat its people? The surrounding community? The environment? Is the work satisfying? Does it provide enough variety—both in subject matter and skill?

While at one time workers may have been looking primarily at compensation when deciding whether to stay or leave, the pandemic has clarified people’s priorities, helping them to evaluate their job satisfaction more holistically.

When evaluating current or prospective employers, employees are weighing multiple factors into their assessments.

2. Strong Compensation & Benefits Remain Imperative

While Covid has highlighted other aspects of the employee experience, the importance of a competitive compensation and benefits package has not gone away.

For instance, a software engineer—let’s call her Cassie—might be doing exactly what she wants to be doing, for the company she wants to be working for, and is paid a competitive wage. She believes in her company’s mission statement, has been impressed with its commitment to the environment and likes the flexible working arrangements it offers. She’s had her eye on a nearby townhouse for a few months, but currently she’s able to rent a onebedroom apartment, pay a nominal amount for health insurance and go to happy hour with friends after work without worrying when the check arrives. But when Cassie’s approached by a competitor with an improving diversity and inclusion program and similar flexible working arrangements, who’s willing to double her salary for a position that’s not quite as aligned to her goals, what’s she to do? Keep her current role that aligns with her interests, along with the lifestyle she’s accustomed to, or take the leap of faith to try something new that will improve her lifestyle—and help her land that townhouse?

This type of scenario is happening every day in tech. Once top talent is identified, it’s a sprint to provide them with the better benefits package. You might have the best ESG program in the world, but if you can’t provide your employees with the lifestyle improvements they long for—and someone else can—you won’t be able to keep them. This is a race businesses need to win to have a chance with the right talent.

While these problems may seem straightforward enough, the solutions are anything but. So how can companies solve them? Here are three ways organizations can address these challenges in the report.

1. Focusing on Employee Engagement

Perhaps most importantly, businesses need to create an environment that makes people want to work there, both from a high-level perspective and during the day-to-day minutiae. How can businesses do that?

From a strategic standpoint, businesses need to have a strong vision and a culture that matches it. One way to do that is by demonstrating a strong commitment to social and environmental welfare with a strong ESG program, whether by supporting a program started by several ingenious employees or creating one at the executive level, to keep employees committed to the company. While many companies feel it’s enough to have a compelling mission statement and flashy graphics, employees are looking for results, much like clients are for their own projects. For example, how have you helped your local area during the Covid-19 crisis? How are you engaging with and improving the community where you work and live? How diverse is your board? Your executive team? What have you done to help all of your stakeholders—not just investors?

At a more tactical level, employers need to prioritize connection. That means finding ways to give workers opportunities to build and maintain organic and authentic relationships—whether with peers, managers or people across the company—to increase their overall satisfaction. Equally as important, connection, especially across different teams, has the potential to foster creativity, leading to new business opportunities or even new ESG initiatives.

2. Creating Platforms to Extend Flexible & Creative Offerings

While the days of working for one company for your entire career may be gone, workers would still prefer to grow within the same company, instead of looking for a new job every few years. One of the best ways to keep these employees is to offer them new opportunities.

To do this, companies should create internal platforms that allow workers to navigate their career paths within the company—whether it’s taking on a new role, working on developing a new skill through a learning platform or working from a new location. And once they take on these new opportunities, employers need to be able to provide them with the support necessary to make them a success. For instance, do they need a bigger budget in order to reach certain KPIs that have been set for them? Relocation support? All of these aspects are key to ensuring that workers can make the most out of their new venture.

But it’s not enough to just create these new opportunities and provide the right support. Employees need to know that they exist. Often workers fall victim to the mental trap of thinking it’s “up or out”—they can only move laterally if they move to a new company. Employers need to thoughtfully communicate about these platforms, on the channels that employees actually use, as well as describing how workers should best engage with these resources to ensure they’re being leveraged appropriately.

3. Providing Competitive & Market-Relevant Compensation—Fast

Lastly, what software companies can do to ensure they are keeping pace with other companies is offer competitive pay and benefits. While they might like your company’s work, they’ll be easily swayed—like in the case of Cassie— by another company if your offering doesn’t come close to what’s on the market.

Not only do you have to have a strong benefits package, but you need to offer it quickly. While in the

past companies have had the luxury of taking their time to sift through the best candidates, in the era of the great resignation, service providers need to be willing to make top offers, and counteroffers, immediately to top talent. If they want best-in-class talent delivering high-quality work to clients quickly, businesses need to be willing to pay top dollar to prospective employees fast.

Make no mistake: even when the great resignation is over, the pandemic is not going to be the last disruptor in the labor market. Tech companies will continue to face challenges as the demand for talent grows while supply continues to stagnate. To ensure they keep top talent, businesses must be flexible and fast in their offerings while also keeping employees engaged with exciting projects, demonstrable ESG successes and opportunities for connection with others like them.

To read the full Future of Work Report, click here: Future of Work Report Download - Talent Alpha (talent-alpha.com)