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Work Culture is Key in Combating "The Great Resignation" in Houston

Published Aug 19, 2021 by Maggie Martin


The national employment market is undergoing a massive shift. As covered in the Partnership's most recent edition of Houston: The Economy at a Glance, employers across the country are struggling to hire employees and job openings are at a record high of over 10 million.

There are also nearly four million people who quit their jobs in June with the largest increases coming from professional and business services, durable goods manufacturing, and state and local government. It's part of a trend playing out across the country called "The Great Resignation." 

For insight on the best practices Houston employers can adopt to retain—and recruit—top talent amid this movement, we chatted with Jill Chapman, Senior Performance Consultant with Insperity, a Partnership member that provides human resources and business performance solutions.

From an HR consulting perspective, what are some of the biggest factors driving The Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is impacting employers of all sizes and industries. The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged many workers to stay with their current employer and delay plans to change jobs.

There are several factors leading employees to change jobs, from burnout to boredom and pent-up demand. Simply put, the sheer volume of available positions allows employees to handpick jobs that fit their desired career path and work lifestyle.

Another possible reason is how the company responded to the pandemic and any workplace adaptations that followed. For instance, employers that prioritized their people and provided the resources to support them and their families at the height of the pandemic will have a high degree of buy-in from workers.

What challenges does this pose for Houston employers?

Finding and attracting talent has been a challenge for small businesses several times in recent memory, but the current shortage's circumstances are unlike any other in recent memory. With companies facing a dearth of applicants, retaining existing employees must take on increased importance. The increase in employee resignations will worry many companies, particularly smaller employers, who may not offer the compensation or benefits of larger competitors.

What are three ways Houston employers can retain their employees?

First and foremost, employers need to foster a culture in which employees feel valued and trusted. While salary is an essential consideration for all workers, other factors may be more persuading, especially when appealing to younger generations. In light of the pandemic's uncertainty and mental health challenges, some workers are looking for more than a paycheck. A robust and strategic culture can be the differentiator. 

Professional development opportunities are another perk that can help employers retain workers. Investing time and money in training demonstrates the value businesses see in their people and can create long-lasting retention.

An employee assistance program, or EAP, is essential in the post-pandemic workplace. EAPs are a collection of benefits and resources designed to support workers and their family's wellbeing. They often include mental health tools, counseling services, referrals and practical information about various work and life topics. In addition, they provide employees with a customized and anonymous support system provided by their employer.

What are three ways Houston employers can recruit new talent?

Corporate culture should be priority number one for Houston employers that are hiring. An established workplace culture that communicates company values can help attract applicants across the multigenerational workforce. Job descriptions should also detail the organization's mission and include any unique perks or volunteer efforts that show the culture in action.

Houston businesses should keep in mind that some job seekers are hesitant to return to an in-person workplace. However, small or medium-sized employers have a much higher degree of flexibility to lead with care, concern and empathy. As a result, SMBs may be able to adapt their work schedules, offer remote work or tailor their benefits or perks to fit the needs of their employees.

With workers at a premium, considering alternative candidates and keeping an open mind may uncover hidden gems. Recent graduates and "boomerang" employees - workers who have previous experience at the company - are two examples of unconventional applicants who others may overlook.

How do you anticipate the Great Resignation will affect Houston area workplaces in the long term?

Long-term, Houston workplaces will be more adaptable and open to remote or hybrid work. Workers and business owners have learned the benefits and drawbacks of remote work during the pandemic, and this will impact workplaces moving forward. For example, physical offices may be less busy as more employees can work remote or dictate their schedule.

The impact of increased turnover and resignations on the Houston labor market should be minimal. There will always be people ready to change jobs and companies hiring. However, business leaders may need to think outside the box to find the talent they need to drive their company forward.

Read this month's edition of the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston: The Economy at a Glance for insight into the delta variant, rebounding travel, economic growth and population gains in the metro area over the past decade.

Insperity is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership. Learn more about our 900 member organizations through our Membership Directory

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Jobseekers Linking In to Employment Opportunities

By the summer of 2021, the Houston region had recovered 58% of the roughly 361,400 jobs shed in spring of 2020. Despite this gain, largely in areas including leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; and trade, transportation, and utilities, the region’s recovery lags behind the national rate of 75%. If Houston’s current growth trends hold, economists project the region's labor market will likely experience a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels as early as December 2022. So for the balance of 2021 and well into 2022, companies will continue to seek workers and Houstonians will go on searching for good employment.  Over the summer, the Partnership’s Houston Back on Track job recovery initiative explored how the pandemic affected Houstonians looking to re-engage in the region’s workforce. Today’s job seekers have a mix of education, work background, and life experience. Despite being tenacious, hopeful and motivated, they find navigating job search and application systems challenging.  LinkedIn has the potential to be instrumental in this recovery and helping connect job seekers with employment opportunities. Widely viewed as a professional networking platform for white collar workers, LinkedIn holds the promise of being the lynchpin between Houston employers with needs across their businesses and talent regardless of education or work background – including workforce newcomers, entry-level workers, career-changers, and jobseekers excluded by automated resume selection processes.  Going Social for Job Searches Accenture and Harvard Business School’s Managing the Future of Work initiative recently explored the phenomena of “hidden workers” in the workforce and their potential for filling much-needed jobs. These people are ones who want to work but are shut out of the workforce for one reason or another or those employed but could work more hours under the right circumstances, such as veterans, caregivers, and immigrants and refugees, among others. The Partnership’s research supports these findings. Harvard and Accenture note that, with repeated rejections, workers are apt to grow frustrated and stop looking for work. The study showed that 40% of employers use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to seek talent for "middle skill" jobs but less than 30% of hidden workers in the middle skills space use social media to seek employment. Additionally, only 42% of hidden workers in middle skills space know how to effectively use social media to increase their employability. Platforms like LinkedIn can help workers such as these promote themselves and their skills, learn about industries, and draw the attention of recruiters.  The Power of LinkedIn  LinkedIn allows users to provide information about themselves through profiles, build a network of connections, and share and engage with comments, photos and videos, and articles in a news feed, and search for and apply for jobs. Likewise, companies can share information about their organizations and opportunities, and recruiters and talent acquisition managers can use the platform to seek talent.  Profiles contain space for a banner photo, a headshot, a personal statement, work history, educational background, skills, volunteer experience, accomplishments, references, and interests – all of which combine into a personal sales piece that can be a go-to for recruiters and talent acquisition managers. “I've seen situations where candidates have sent their resumes across and the recruiters go straight to LinkedIn,” said former recruiter Schirell Sidney. “I have seen some recruiters that may not be as likely to call a person if they didn't have a LinkedIn profile.”  Sidney now works as a senior program manager with United Way of Greater Houston and will help Houston’s jobseekers use the platform to connect to good careers through the Houston Back on Track initiative.  Recruiters can search for talent with specific skillsets; users who have these skills listed on their profiles will appear in search results. Regina Mellinger, founder, owner, and president of the staffing firm Primary Services — a Houston Back on Track employer partner — said staffers and employers can work backwards and use the listed skills and previous work experience of high-performing employees to seek out new talent with similar skills and employment backgrounds.   A jobseeker can use their profile’s summary area to address a career change or resume gap, use the designated areas to list courses and certifications, even highlight volunteer work and passions. Important real estate on their profile also includes the profile picture and the cover photo. Use those to further extend the personal brand message, said Jill Chapman, a senior performance consultant for Insperity.   Users can follow companies that interest them and individuals they aspire to be like to learn about companies, organizations, and industries; this can be particularly beneficial for job candidates who are new to an industry or area of work. Chapman said interacting with these profiles and participating in industry discussions shows employers that a candidate is involved and interested in the area. An Opportunity for Dialogue and Learning  The platform may also help streamline communication between recruiters and candidates or other jobseekers. Recruiters can send direct messages to job candidates or potential candidates and users can message recruiters or other users to ask questions about an industry, company, or opportunity. Mellinger and Sidney acknowledged that LinkedIn’s internal messaging service can be frightening at first because uses may be wary of talking directly with recruiters. However, a user’s current employer cannot see messages and recruiters are happy to answer questions and discuss opportunities. Microsoft’s LinkedIn Learning platform provides additional advantages for jobseekers. The online learning platform offers a rich selection of courses and modules of varying lengths in a wide range of areas of professional development. Not only can users use the platform to learn and build skills, but they can add completed courses to their LinkedIn profiles. Learning through – and posting about – these courses can show how a candidate, and especially a career-changer, is working to bridge a skills gap, Chapman said, and signal to potential employers a candidate’s valuable growth mindset and ability to learn, take on new challenges, and develop professionally. Sidney believes posting these courses can also help unsure jobseekers build confidence – the sharpened skill gives them something to brag about.  “Anybody that’s afraid of LinkedIn has got to give it a try because they've been missing it, they are missing out,” she said.   The Partnership's UpSkill Houston initiative works to strengthen the talent pipeline employers need to grow their businesses and to help all Houstonians build relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility. Learn more here. Houston Back on Track is a job recovery initiative that helps connect workers displaced by the pandemic to coaching support, wraparound services, and short-term education they may need to help them get to the ‘front door’ of companies with good opportunities for long-term employment in in-demand roles. Learn more here.
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