The War for Talent

Employees around the country are prioritizing their work-life balance more than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with a robust job market, this has led to a massive increase in employee turnover, a phenomenon some are calling “The Great Resignation”. In this blog we will explore statistics and changing trends around employee retention, work-life balance, and burnout. We will also share some helpful tips to keep employees happy, motivated, and productive as they return to in-person work.

The “New Normal”

As companies across the United States begin returning to in-person work, commutes, and water cooler conversation, they are discovering that their employees have new priorities.  The COVID-19 pandemic stopped the world in its tracks, causing many Americans to ponder their lives and their careers. According to a survey by Prudential50% of adults said the pandemic has given them more control in deciding the direction of their career. A survey by Indeed found that 52% of respondents feel  “burned out” - overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism, detachment and feeling unaccomplished – while 67% report that the feeling has gotten worse over the course of the pandemic.


The numbers fluctuate depending on the source, but many industries are reporting a labor shortage as they struggle to fill available positions while former employees look for greener pastures. “The Great Resignation” has been exacerbated by employees feeling that their companies aren’t doing enough to keep them feeling motivated and energized; and that they can find higher paying jobs to make the stress more worth it. Deloitte reports that 69% of professionals surveyed think their employers are not doing enough to minimize burnout and 21% of respondents say their company does nothing at all to alleviate burnout. LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index found that 48% of currently employed people seeking new jobs are feeling bolder about switching jobs because of the chances of increased pay.


Given this new normal, what can employers do to decrease burnout, retain employees and to attract new ones?

woman working from home

Develop Hybrid Work Schedules

One of the biggest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that millions of Americans were forced to work entirely remotely for the first time in their careers. Many discovered that they enjoy working from home and are fully capable of staying productive in that environment. According to a global survey from BCG89% of workers said they’d like to work from home at least 1 day per week after the pandemic. This number was even higher in the Science and Research fields, as 92% of respondents from those industries desiring to work partially or fully from home. That figure was 86% in Engineering and Technical roles. A hybrid office model where employees can work 2-3 days per week remotely, when possible, can help employees feel less of the “rat race”, stressed out feeling that can be the result of hurried daily commutes and lead to burnout.

Office collaboration

Emphasize Community and Collaboration

The benefits of returning to in-person work that employees are looking forward to the most are the community and collaboration that just aren’t the same via video meetings. According to LinkedIn, working together on projects and socializing with their coworkers and clients are far and away the top 2 factors encouraging workers to return to the office. Since these are such high priorities for employees, they should also be top priorities for employers. Work to make sure your office is an environment that encourages teamwork, constructive feedback, and camaraderie. Have an open-door policy where employees feel encouraged to voice their concerns to those in charge. If employees sit in closed off cubicles or offices, create spaces in the building that encourage casual conversation. As restaurants and venues re-open, consider having more team outings. Things like this will help remind employees of the positives of in-office work.

Small dumbell

Start Health and Wellness Programs

Exercise and a balanced diet are proven ways to reduce all types of stress, including stress caused by job burnout. Encouraging healthy habits inside and outside of the office is a great way to keep employees focused and energized while they work. Offering an on-site gym and workout classes is a great option for large companies and can also help to build community as mentioned in our previous tip. For smaller companies, offering a free or reduced price offsite gym membership as an employee benefit can encourage healthy habits as well.


You may also consider monthly fitness challenges in the office to encourage working out, a little competitiveness, and to give employees something to talk about other than work. There are several apps and websites you can use to track a group fitness challenge.


Encourage Paid Time Off

PTO is one of thetop 3 waysthat employees say their burnout could be prevented/alleviated; however, just offering PTO is not enough. There is often a disconnect between how many PTO days are offered to employees vs. how many they actually take. According to a study by Namelyemployees with unlimited PTO actually take fewer PTO days on average than employees with traditional plans.


The gap between PTO days offered and PTO days used has widened over the course of the pandemic. According to Deloitte, workers often believe that taking time off makes them look less dedicated and more replaceable than their counterparts. Employees also cite feeling too busy with work to be able to take time off or fully disconnect from emails and Teams/Slack notifications when they do take time off. This constant stress with no breaks is a dangerous and surefire recipe to create employee burnout.


Encourage employees to actually use their time off by creating a culture that reassures employees they can take time away as needed without being seen as replaceable slackers or ruining the company’s chances for success. A potential policy change to consider may be a Minimum Time Off structure where employees are required to take certain number of paid days off each year.

About Brunel

Brunel is a recruiting/staffing firm dedicated to connecting the top specialists in the world with world changing companies in the Oil and Gas, Life Sciences, Renewable Energy and Mining industries.  We offer competitive benefits to both our contractors and staff, including a great PTO policy.  With a great passion for people, we take pride in supporting a heathy work-life balance.  

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