A record number of Americans (47+ million) quit their jobs in 2021, with nearly 10 million quitting in December and November alone according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this unusually tight labor market, attracting talented employees has never been more challenging. A Gallup Poll last summer found that 48% of America’s working population was actively job searching or watching for job opportunities. At the same time businesses face staggeringly high quit rates and record-high number of unfilled positions. Some have called it the “Great Resignation,” but others describe this phenomenon as the “Great Rethink” where employees are rethinking their relationship to work and how it fits into their lives.

According to the Gallup Poll, the highest quit rate is among workers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged.  For employers, disengagement is very costly:

  • Highly engaged teams are 14% to 18% more productive than low engagement teams.
  • Low engagement teams typically endure turnover rates that are 18% to 43% higher than highly engaged teams.
  • Replacing exiting workers costs one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.

Employment experts sense this recent wave of attrition is different than previous tight labor markets. Employees are not just looking for a bigger paycheck, many are leaving jobs to take on new and very different roles.  Others have been operating under extreme circumstances for extended periods and are taking their time getting back into the labor force as they assess what they want from their work/life balance.

To be competitive in the competition for talent, employers must offer higher compensation and better benefits – but that’s just the ante.  To be in the game for highly skilled employees, employers must also be willing to offer more flexibility, an inclusive culture and sense of community.

While office design and recruitment aren’t often discussed in the same sentence, great office space is a major factor in attracting and retaining talent.  A recent survey found that 72% of job hunters decide if they want to work for someone within 30 seconds, based on their first impression of the company’s workspace.  A recent CBRE survey found that 69% of candidates said they would be willing to give up other benefits to work in a well-designed space.

“Well designed office space is the ‘arrow in the quiver’ for companies to amplify their brand and their culture,” said Sheldon Oppermann, Compass Properties Executive Vice President. “People who view office space only as overhead are missing the point. A hospital operating room or an Indy car pit is set up to make sure the team can do its job.   Your office space is no different – you want it set it up for peak effectiveness.”

In recent years, young job seekers professionals have increasingly prioritized personal values in deciding where to work.  For many job seekers today, a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is not just a preference, it’s a requirement.   While this looks different for every company, it starts with a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your DE&I initiatives, ensuring that your pay practices are fair and equitable, and eliminating unconscious bias in hiring.

In marketing and in recruiting, companies need to be aware of their “employment brand:”  the image and perception that others have of what it’s like to work for the company.  Having a great employment brand can fuel recruiting with testimonials, posts and word of mouth marketing that highlights your company culture, purpose, compensation, benefits, work-life balance, location and office space.

You can get a sense of your employment brand on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed, which can highlight both the negatives and positives of your employment brand.  You may also want to consider doing employee experience surveys that relate to how employees feel about working for your company, and a deep dive into you current hiring process, looking at it from the candidate’s point of view.  How long is the process? Are the lines of communication open and accessible?   What does the process say about your company?

The value of having employees physically in the same office has become even more pronounced after two years of working mostly virtual. A well-designed and collaborative office space contributes to a stronger culture, and today’s employees are all about working for a company that cares about more than the bottom line.  They want to feel like they’re part of a larger and more meaningful purpose.

“Candidates are looking for companies that share their values and provide them with a greater sense of purpose,” Oppermann said.  “But being a value-driven company isn’t just about hiring; it helps organizations make better decisions, especially when the values are communicated clearly and aligned with how you do business.”