The Great Resignation or The Great Realignment?

By Christie Summervill

The Great Resignation or The Great Realignment?

This is a tumultuous time for banks and credit unions nationwide in light of The Great Resignation. Stress, burnout, and turnover are all real areas of concern, and there is no end in sight for a settling of the labor market. One key indicator of this for HR professionals is time spent recruiting for essential positions. According to a recent Human Resource Executive report, the following were the top, and sometimes competing, concerns for HR managers today:

  • 60% of respondents cited recruiting and retaining workers as one of their top two challenges
  • 18% of respondents cited improving employee morale and engagement in remote/hybrid/socially distanced workplaces 
  • 16% reported managing compliance, including expected federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates
  •  12% cited improving company culture as a top priority

The net effect of this stress on the labor market is not only being felt in the financial sector but in nearly every quadrant of business and commerce today. According to a recent Business Insider article, “there were 11.4 million job openings in the USA in April, new government data shows.” Additionally, “professional and business services had the most openings in April, with such firms boasting nearly 2.2 million job openings.” There are roles to fill, responsibilities to cover and succession plans to push forward. Revenues may be struggling, efficiencies eroding, and an increased amount of time invested in onboarding and training. This trend in employee turnover is probably not slowing down soon and is met by an ever-increasing demand for higher compensation and remote work. According to a recent article from, “The COVID-19 pandemic made companies shift to remote working for the safety of the employees, but now 50% of employees are willing to take a 5% pay cut to keep working remotely.”

In the midst of all of this seeming chaos, there is a silver lining. While there is an above-average rate of turnover at multiple levels of management, there are also incoming employees bringing a new perspective to their work environment. Additionally, departures in departments allow for a reassessment of need, headcount, and skill set. Institutions can sometimes act more effectively with voluntary leave over having to lay off employees in a department. I recently spoke to a very successful CEO in the San Francisco area who shared these sentiments within her financial institution. She related to me that she had recently replaced two executives from her team and was worried about the outcome and loss of talent. She noted, 

“I was amazed at the caliber of resumes that came in and was able to recruit two executives from larger asset size organizations who were looking for an environment where they were not expected to give up every evening and Saturday morning to prove their commitment. It seems that while they were working remotely, they reassessed what was important to them and decided to prioritize work/life balance. We were able to benefit greatly from their level of experience and knowledge that raised the bandwidth of my entire team.”

This is a fickle time for hiring, retaining, and training talent; however, with upheaval comes the potential for new opportunities. There is always the possibility for a team to be created or amended with higher engagement, greater satisfaction, and an improved work culture all around. This is a big win for incoming employees who will add value to the bottom line and an even greater value for the companies that can capitalize on the growth opportunity. 

Check out more of our HR strategy articles for banks and credit unions! 

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