Over the course of 2021, The Great Resignation became part of our vernacular: The U.S. Department of Labor pointed to the fact that people were quitting in record numbers.

Months later, this trend evolved. It was not a singular event or a moment in time, with data points showing a more nuanced, prolonged situation. It’s a COVID-19 pandemic ramification that will influence employers and employees for quite some time. According to a LumApps survey, 63% of respondents in the U.S. said that they have at least considered a new career over the past year. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are considering a new employer: Predictably, 44% of employees said they would consider staying at their job if given more flexible working arrangements or the option to work from home.

The reevaluation of work, and other aspects of life, is now deemed The Great Reflection, and it will have a major impact on employee retention and recruiting in 2022. As learning leaders work to retain top talent, it goes beyond trivial job perks: It’s about prioritizing the employee experience and reflecting on work culture.

Reflection Starts With Retention

A high number of resignations equals a wider collection of available talent. A Harvard Business Review article says that there’s an opportunity to retain employees who are considering leaving. Employers should not be discouraged by these latest trends, and should take advantage of the current situation when possible. The article cites data showing that employees who are looking for a new employer would prefer to stay where they’re at. What are they looking for, then? The top answers for what companies can do to influence workers to stay weren’t surprising.

Salary is always going to be a top factor for retention, so paying competitive salaries should be a priority. However, flexibility and career paths are other areas companies can focus on without having to shell out raises. Flexible working arrangements require a mix of organization, office layout adjustments and leveraging out-of-the-box calendar features. Giving employees the option to work from home proved to be sustainable during the pandemic for many organizations, and has become a long-term solution for many.

Although promotions often come with pay raises, employers can meet employees halfway by offering them learning and development (L&D) opportunities. Giving employees the chance to learn a new skill on the job or sharpen their skills for an internal move gives them a reason not to look elsewhere for career growth.

Learning Opportunities to Attract Top Talent

On the recruiting side, employers must find ways to gain a competitive edge. Many employers recognize the importance of learning opportunities and have included them in the organization’s strategy to attract new talent — this is where chief learning officers can really shine.

Learning opportunities provide employees with the ability to grow their career and explore personal passions. Employees can have an outlet to merge their values with work. If they are interested in making a difference, providing leadership coaching can help them join a non-profit board, eventually. Perhaps, more importantly, learning initiatives allow employers to respond to The Great Reflection directly. They can utilize the common denominators that have caused employees to interview for positions at their company by developing comprehensive professional development programs to nurture the next round of talent.

Employees who are rethinking their life and careers will benefit by having ample learning opportunities available to them.

Build Purpose-driven Environments

Forward-thinking human resources (HR) and learning professionals should consider strategies that go beyond resignation trends. The idea of creating a purpose-driven work environment has become a bigger force in recent years, and the pandemic only accelerated this trend.

According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, 72% of managers strongly agreed that it is “very important” to them to work for an organization with a purpose they believe in. Whether you’re building retention strategies or a recruiting plan, tying the company mission around something meaningful is an ideal strategy. For example, Southwest Airlines ranks No. 30 on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list, which is higher than any other airline. Its success is largely due to placing an emphasis on culture and empowering workers to care deeply about their work and find purpose in their roles. Training professionals can work this concept into their curriculum by performing a “why” exercise to identify words that are repeated. Honest and clear feedback also plays a role, as it allows for employees to feel a genuine connection and commit to a clear purpose.

By joining The Great Reflection, learning officers can build workplaces that nurture the next generation of employees and focus on the employee experience.