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How HR and hiring managers can combat the skills gap caused by the great resignation

Industries across the US and around the world are facing what has become known as the great resignation, as millions of workers are quitting their jobs. While some are simply taking some time for themselves after two years of chaos, hardship and instability, others are re-evaluating their relationship with work altogether and striking out on their own.

As we start to further examine the implications of what this means for our future economy and the long lasting effects, we are noticing a striking picture of how the pandemic forced the global workforce to take a fresh look at its relationship with work. Working to live is no longer acceptable and living to work is our new reality. This is a good thing. Living to work means being passionate and excited about work, and creating a better relationship with one’s work. It means more work-life balance, liveable wages, vacations. flexibility and family time.

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The term great resignation was coined last April, when a record-breaking 4 million workers quit their jobs — a 20-year high. While the job market has ebbed and flowed since then, one thing remains: workers have the power, and right now, they’re choosing one thing above all else — flexibility. According to a new survey of HR professionals and hiring managers from Fiverr and Hibob, 30% of respondents said that people exiting their companies were doing so because of an increased desire for flexibility, which took precedence over better pay (27%) and a promotion (26%).

HR professionals and hiring managers are facing unprecedented challenges because of this. Full time staff are leaving and they cannot find replacement talent to fill the gaps, and it’s not entry level positions that need filling, it’s positions that require years of experience and knowledgeable candidates. Forty-six percent of the HR pros surveyed by Fiverr and Hibob’s said managers and directors are leaving their companies at a greater rate than entry level employees.

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Fifty-six percent of those who’ve seen employees leave in the last six months said that the people leaving their companies are between ages 36-45, while 37% said that people leaving are between ages 26-35.

It makes sense that many of these people are striking out on their own given their experience. The US saw 4.3 million new business applications in 2020 and 3.8 million in 2021, Census Bureau data showed. In July, the number of self-employed workers hit an eight-year high, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showed. Technology has revolutionized the way we work, which also makes it possible to start a business from almost anywhere. This means there are more experienced professionals out there than ever before, but there’s a catch: they want to work for themselves.

HR professionals and hiring managers need to come together to address these talent gaps. However, they do not always see eye to eye. First off, almost half of HR professionals said that they do not feel that turnover affects their company’s productivity. This is compared to 65% percent of hiring managers who do feel like turnover is affecting productivity.

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This is, perhaps, why HR professionals seem more adverse to hiring freelance talent to fill skills gaps in their workforces. Roughly two in five hiring managers say they contact freelancers to fill employment gaps and complete tasks, while only three in ten HR professionals say the same.

That said, HR professionals (48%) seem more acutely aware of the fact that one of the main benefits of working with freelance talent is flexibility, exactly what people want the most, compared to only 37% of hiring managers. At Fiverr, not only are we a marketplace for hiring freelancers, but we, as a company, regularly contract freelancers and independent partners to help with various projects and initiatives. It lightens the load of our current full time team members and allows us to scale up and down as needed.

Companies are struggling to retain their talent, but even more so, the talent shortages in their workforce is forcing burnout among the employees who want to stay. Leaders on both the corporate side and in HR need to come together and embrace flexibility, autonomy and remote work. But even more so, they need to embrace new, and possibly for them, unconventional ways of tapping into talent.

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