Our previous article analyzed the past and current effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workplace—especially in regard to having in-person versus hybrid workers, as well as, how the interview process has been affected—and this time we would like to analyze the effects on the workforce.

Every year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gathers information on job openings and turnover rates for every industry and region in the U.S., then at the end of the year releases this information to the public. Granted we have yet to reach the end of the year, we don’t have exact statistics for how 2021 is shaking out, but we do have the past several years. In 2019, the overall market saw a 0.6% increase from the previous year, for a turnover rate of 45.1%. It is important to note that average increase rates vary per industry, but when looking at the country, it is most common for this rate to change by ±0.8%, however, in 2020 that rate rose by 12.2% to a jaw-dropping 57.3%. Experts seem to think that 2021 rates will increase as well. (We, here in the business services industry were lucky to only see an increase of 5.7% in 2020… woohoo!)

Now, the hard part is deliberating as to how such drastic increases occurred. The obvious answer is that while the pandemic has been wreaking havoc on the world, jobs have of course been affected as well. There is no doubt that this is true; however, it is not the sole contributor to such a drastic rise in separation rates. Thinking critically, we can acknowledge many other events that were happening in 2020—numerous protests of civil unrests, a presidential election, the aforementioned pandemic, diplomatic quibbles, and so much more—so there are plenty of events that could affect retention rates.

Let’s run some more numbers. Millennials are born between 1981-1996 putting their age anywhere from 25 to 40. According to our good friend the USBLS, people under the age of 34 made up 52.1% of the workforce. This number, in combination with the idea that Millennials and Generation Z have come under scrutiny from older generations for their love of calling out all the problems in the world (Pew), gives us a very good idea of some other reasons why we are seeing such drastic increases in unemployment and decreases in employee retention.

The industry-loved Harvard Business Review helps managers identify a couple of ways to adjust their company culture in order to maintain more younger workers; 1) increased transparency, 2) trust, 3) autonomy, 4) explanation of purpose, and 5) focusing on employees as people. In a separate article, they went a step further and discussed the productivity benefits of having a positive work culture.

So, what are decision-makers at companies to do with all these numbers and this information? The ideal outcome is for you to do an internal audit of your company’s values, interests, and purpose. Once you have a solid understanding of what your company is to be, then find out what it is. Ask your employees! They know what your company is like! When you take the time to listen to how your employees perceive the workplace and your company, only then can you build a better culture. When you have a good culture, your seats will fill themselves.