The Great COVID Job Churn
When we gather together for The Outcomes Conference in June, I’m excited to share with you some of the latest research and discoveries we have made around hiring in a post-COVID world. In the coming year, hiring and interviewing will be much more focused on soft skills which I will explain, and I think you’ll find fascinating.
But as preparation for that time together, I wanted to alert you to trend that’s happening in the job market unlike anything I’ve seen before. I’ve been in the executive search business for most of my adult life, founding one of America’s leading boutique search firms, and I’ve never seen anything like this.
I’ve never seen anything like this.
I’m predicting that one of the unexpected consequences of COVID-19 will be what I’m calling “The Great COVID Job Churn.” We are seeing this start to happen already, and are predicting that in the next 18 to 24 months, as many as 40% of all senior leaders in nonprofit organizations will seriously consider a move.
More people than I’ve ever seen are looking to move on, and more businesses, nonprofit organizations and places of worship are looking for new leadership. That means you will be looking at staff losses in the coming year. It also means you’ll be interviewing to fill positions (and I’ll help you with that part when we are together at The Outcomes Conference).
You need to be ready for that turnover, now, not later. There is no avoiding the churn, but you can prepare by understanding why it’s going to happen, and you can mitigate the impact when it hits.
Why is turnover coming?
- People hunkered down in 2020
Turnover is part of the natural order of the labor market. But a lot of the turnover that would have naturally occurred in 2020 simply didn’t, leaving a backlog of people who are ready for a change once normalcy returns. Some people didn’t want to inject the uncertainty of a job change into an already crazy year. Some stayed out of a sense of duty to their companies. Whatever the reason, the market has a latent buildup of job seekers just as baby boomers continue to retire at a record pace.
- People Are Rethinking Their Options
Humans are creatures of habit, and our habits often form ruts that are hard to escape. One silver lining of 2020 is that everyone’s work habits were broken. The lockdowns of the spring and remote work since then has given a lot of people a chance to reevaluate why they do what they do. People have had time to think, and the pandemic has made the entire world remember that life is short, fragile and fleeting. The result is a massive number of people asking big questions about life, vocation, and why they do the job they do. People who hadn’t considered leaving their jobs or seeking new opportunities have had a long break from their regular routines and are starting to think about what’s next. They’re not just considering pay or job title, but why they work. This dynamic has been going on for a while (just look at how many views Simon Sinek’s talk on “Why” has gathered). COVID-19 has accelerated the conversation, which will directly accelerate turnover in 2021, and send an unprecedented number of corporate executives into the nonprofit sector, vacating their coveted C-suite roles.
- People Are Ready To Move Closer To Home
People aren’t just asking “why” they do what they do; they are questioning “where” they do what they do. The pandemic has already and will continue to usher in a great geographic redistribution of the workforce. Record numbers of people are leaving urban areas for more desirable places to live. Austin, Texas, is seeing record job growth, fueled by people leaving the Bay Area of California. Park City is welcoming an exodus of people from Salt Lake and other areas around the country. Just as COVID-19 accelerated remote meetings, it has created a world where many jobs can be done from anywhere. Record numbers of people state they are working in a fully remote setting that can be anywhere. Compounding these factors, the crisis of 2020 has made many people want to move back home, closer to family and friends, or closer to aging parents or growing grandchildren. Once the dust of the crisis settles, more people will be ready to move than ever before. With those moves will come a rapid increase in job turnover.
- Jobs Have Changed
All jobs change over time, but COVID-19 has accelerated the pace like never before.
Here’s a very typical call our team gets from candidates these days, “my company hasn’t done anything wrong. But this job has changed. It’s not what I signed up for, and it’s not going back to the way it was.” All jobs change over time, but COVID-19 has accelerated the pace like never before. Entire industries have been disrupted. Office jobs have become remote. All of that change will generate a lot of turnover across all age groups, particularly among baby boomers who are moving up their retirement.
How Can I Prepare For Turnover?
So all of this turnover is coming, how in the world do I prepare?
If you’re thinking of making a change, know that you’re not alone. This might be exactly the year to take a leap — just make sure it’s for the right reasons.
Additionally, make a list now of the people you really want to keep in 2021 and consider a raise or bonus. It will likely cost you less to invest in these areas than it will to replace a valuable employee.
One final piece of advice: buckle up. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve never seen this many tremors in the employee market at once. Mark my words, no matter how wonderful a boss you are and how cool your company is, The Great COVID Job Churn is coming for you.
William Vanderbloemen is the CEO and Founder of Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices, and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally. Follow him on Twitter @wvanderbloemen.