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Letter to Leaders & Swenson Insights

25 Things I Learned in 2022

The Year We All Became Hiring Managers


Every leader I talk with has become a recruiter this year.


Every single speaking invitation I get is to discuss how to hire and retain better. They are the two most important concerns for leaders and the workforce.


When this slows down, I don’t know.


Here are 25 things I’ve learned in 2022 – The Year We All Became Hiring Managers.

For context: the two major issues:

  • Workers are quitting with ease (this has slowed somewhat, but not enough).

  • There are still twice as many available jobs than job seekers – a difference of 5.4 million.

Where did they go? Since the start of COVID:

  • 4.8 million workers are still at home caring for children

  • 3.3 million workers have retired

  • 1.7 million are out of work caring for the elderly

  • About 900,000 people have become disabled (likely because of long COVID)

  • About 500,000 have quit to start their own business

  • There are about 2 million fewer working-age immigrants

  1. Most people quit because they’re burned out. When someone's burned out, any change of scenery looks better. The fact that there’s more money in it makes it even easier to leave.

  2. There are a lot fewer workers doing a lot more work. No wonder there’s burnout.

  3. Wages are up 5.7% over the past year. They’re up more than 12% for front-line workers (health care, hospitality)

  4. Over the past several years, we’ve done at least 1500 exit interviews for clients. The overwhelming regret in leaving? “I’ll miss the people I work with.” Well, if 50% of the workforce is remote, what’s left to keep people staying in their job?

  5. It’s not always greener on the other side. We estimate about 60% of all employees hired since January 1, 2021, have left their jobs.

  6. Managing remote work is THE leadership competency most in demand right now.

  7. At least 30% of your employees are “quiet quitters”. It’s a new term for an old problem.

  8. The #1 Key to understanding today’s workforce? Employees must feel they are fairly paid for what they do. All the perks in the world won’t make up for that fact.

  9. What can employers do? a) Conduct stay interviews with every employee. b) Everyone you hired in the past year? Re-onboard them.

  10. The best exit interview question you can ask right now? “What caused you to think about looking for another job?”

  11. No matter how much your employee referral bonus is, it should be more.

  12. When it comes to hiring, employers must re-imagine everything.

  13. When recruiting, stop thinking like HR (12 page job descriptions). Start thinking like marketers (why would a great employee want to work here?)

  14. Ask your best employees: “What are the reasons you stay here?” and “What could we do that would case you to consider leaving?”

  15. Think: who is your best employee? It’s not someone who has 2 years more experience than anyone else. Experience has always been overrated – especially now.

  16. What a person had in their last job becomes the minimum expectation they have for their next job.

  17. You’re going to have to pay more, offer more vacation for new employees and re-consider hybrid.

  18. Biggest reason candidates are turning you down? The commute.

  19. If a new employee isn’t working out – don’t spend the next six months trying to save them.

  20. I know lots of CEO’s who regret keeping people on too long. I know very few CEO’s who regret getting rid of people too fast.

  21. Don’t spend money on an expensive compensation survey. By the time you get the report, wages will have gone up another 5-10%.

  22. Go to indeed.com – find out how much comparable jobs are paying in your area. (And see if those employers are offering flex work or hybrid opportunities).

  23. Hiring is the beginning, not the end. 72% of millennials & Gen Z’s feel immediate regret right after starting a new job.

  24. If you, or anyone who works for you, says, “but that’s the way we’ve always done it,” you’re doomed.

  25. The workforce is not going to adapt to you. So you better adapt to it.

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