In history books and geography classes, the word great is reserved for only the biggest occurrences and achievements – the Great War, the Great Depression, the Great Migration and the Great Wall of China, just to name a few.
Like these and other “great” things, the Great Resignation is as sizable as it is significant, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which says 47.8 million workers – about 4 million workers per month – quit their jobs in 2021. And with 44% of workers currently seeking new jobs, the bleeding isn’t likely to stop any time soon.
It's the kind of talent crunch that promises to impact employers of all sizes and in all industries. To address it, organizations and their HR departments must find ways to fundamentally change and improve the employee experience.
Technology alone can’t solve the problem. As more employers turn to digital HR solutions, however, it’s clear that cloud computing could help some organizations turn a talent crisis into a talent opportunity.
Great Impacts of the Great Resignation
There are myriad reasons for increased turnover in the American workforce. First and foremost is the shift to hybrid and remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased employees’ appetite for flexibility. In fact, 81% of employees say they want a remote or hybrid work setup even after the pandemic is over, video conferencing company Owl Labs reported in its 2021 “State of Remote Work” study.
But remote work arrangements can be just as problematic as the lack thereof. That’s because remote employees often clock longer hours than onsite employees and may not have as much support within the company. The result is burnout for many employees, who are resigning en masse from companies that devalue employee wellness.
“The Great Resignation was a wake-up call for human resource leaders to realize that treating humans as resources is not a best practice,” said Patrice Williams, people and operations manager at Vuram, a hyper-automation services company.
“A focused approach is necessary to nourish a people-centric work culture, prioritizing wellbeing, work/life balance, and mental health of the people in the organization to ensure happiness, job satisfaction, and productivity.”
Of course, turnover doesn’t just impact people. It also affects profits. Take IT departments, for example: When large numbers of unhappy employees resign, IT teams must spend more time setting up new hires, protecting sensitive information from former staff, and managing interdepartmental challenges. In turn, that means they spend less time supporting strategic priorities like digital transformation, the products of which – innovation and efficiency – can reduce costs and increase revenue.
Streamlining Recruitment and Retention
Although it can’t stop employees from leaving, cloud computing could make it less costly to replace them when they do, said Anthony Cummings, IT director at Relovent, a London-based provider of cloud training and recruitment services.
“Whether your spend is higher due to growing salaries, greater training requirements, or even the internal costs of hiring, there are still ways to balance these costs by optimizing your processes,” Cummings said. “Cloud technologies and HR can intersect highly effectively.”
According to Cummings, cloud online recruitment helps HR and IT departments by minimizing the time to hire. Whether recruiting for cloud computing jobs or other roles, cloud-based recruiting software distributes the same listing across multiple job boards, sends easy scheduling links, and offers sourcing and referral tools. Meanwhile, cloud-based chatbots fill in for IT support reps, answering questions 24/7 from employees and customers alike.
Platforms such as LinkedIn Jobs and Recruitee use AI to match job offers with candidate profiles and to create templates for recurring pipeline structures. By leveraging the power of the cloud, recruitment tools like these create collaborative environments in which hiring teams can evaluate candidates more efficiently and more effectively.
The cloud won’t just help you find your next employee. Cloud-based digital onboarding means it also could help you manage them, according to Williams, who said cloud-enabled “joiner-mover-leaver” processes ensure a consistent HR experience for all employees in transition. That includes automated contract issuing, for example, as well as automated cross-departmental alerts with which to quickly get new hires up to speed.
“Vuram was quick to adapt to the impact of the pandemic by digitizing people operations and functions,” reported Williams, who said Vuram’s workforce grew 108% in the last year thanks in part to HR efficiencies gained from cloud-based technology.
“People engagement, celebrations, hiring, onboarding, documentation, orientation, and team activities were conducted online, ensuring continuity of operations and resilience.”
Once new recruits settle in, the cloud can help them excel. For example, organizations can use virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) technology to give employees remote access to the applications and data they need to do their jobs, thereby improving the digital employee experience.
Companies such as NewRocket, Aurea, and KissFlow provide digital workflow tools like custom connectors, APIs, automated task scheduling, and collaboration platforms. Meanwhile, platforms such as uStudio are rethinking how employees manage emails and meetings by offering podcasts for internal operations. Because these podcasts contain audio and video content, employers have tangible data to better analyze how teams interact with company messages.
These and other cloud employee management tools allow HR professionals to minimize tedious day-to-day tasks and implement employee self-service through personalized portals, where staff can access information across departments in a single place.
“The cloud has a lot to offer HR departments,” Williams said. “Once you’ve successfully optimized your HR processes, you can go even further and leverage data and technologies to truly begin improving your employee experience.”
Organizations are also turning to cloud-powered services to address burnout. Medical startup Time Study, for example, developed its software-as-a-service solution to monitor how physicians and healthcare workers spend their time on the clock. Hospitals use that data to make better staffing decisions.
The Great Resignation is putting a heavily load on IT departments. It’s time-consuming to onboard new hires, manage access to hardware and software, and run them through security training sessions. When companies lighten that load by relying on cloud-based services, IT can put more attention on other strategic tasks to grow their business.
Moving Forward with the Cloud
Workplaces have already come a long way with cloud adoption. Even something as commonplace as remote job interviews was a fairly novel concept a decade ago. Now, digital workflows and employee cloud-based digital onboarding tools allow companies to automate and better serve employees and customers alike.
As cloud technologies evolve, companies will find even more ways to improve business processes, including employee experiences, which require continuous attention.
“An empathy-first and technology-next approach is crucial for organizations while implementing technology for people operations,” concluded Williams. He said the cloud can be a great defense against the Great Resignation – as long as changes are made with the focus on a company’s most important asset: employees.