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FI Webinar Recap: Retaining Talent Amid ‘The Great Resignation’

Many have lamented America’s current labor shortage. Kristine Gunn, conversely, has tried to maintain an air of positivity, focused on the opportunity that lies ahead.

“This really is a time for organizations to reimagine – to reset – and ensure that, in all of this brokenness, that we do continue to move forward,” said Gunn, executive director, talent and organizational management with HR solution firm TriNet.

The so-called “Great Resignation” – during which 52% of workers are planning to look for a new position in the year ahead — has proven one thing, above all else, to business leaders like Gunn: “More than anything, it has given rise to the importance of focusing on human capital, and HR has never been more at the center of all things.”

Gunn made her comments Tuesday during a webinar on hiring and retention tips, hosted by The Food Institute.

Even before 2020, remote work, flexible hours, and an emphasis on a more diverse workforce had begun to alter recruiting and onboarding for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). The pandemic, plus 2020’s racial turmoil, only accelerated those changes. As the economy begins to recover, SMBs must reimagine how they attract and onboard talent if they hope to procure and retain the best and brightest in their industry.

And Tuesday’s webinar offered insight on how to do just that. Here’s a few of their biggest hiring and retention takeaways.


Employers that offer their staff flexible schedules experience 25% less employee turnover, noted Barbara Bevilacqua, TriNet’s director of talent and organizational management. The most successful, creative companies these days, “are really trying to meet people where they are,” explained Kristin Russum, TriNet’s director of human capital services.

That might entail offering staggered hours to employees, for example, or offering longer breaks so employees can pick up their children from school. Even steps as simple as offering free, healthy food in the breakroom can appeal to today’s workforce.

Russum noted that employers are often hesitant to offer concessions like scheduling flexibility to their staff, “because they think ‘Oh my, that’s going to open up Pandora’s box. But really, even the exercise of asking ‘What would it take to really satisfy you?’ can be very liberating and very freeing, and [make] a lot of connection.”


According to McKinsey and Company, diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform competitors. Beyond that, in 2021 it’s expected that companies will recruit employees with diversity, equality, and inclusion in mind.

Panelists noted that it’s wise for companies to try to eliminate unconscious bias and take steps like seeking feedback from a broad cross-section of their organization when screening and interviewing job candidates.

TriNet also warns companies to avoid getting fixated on finding ideal fits for their business “culture,” since that can, on occasion, lead to unintentional biases.


When hiring, business leaders must avoid complacency and thinking “we’ve always done it this way,” Bevilacqua said. She feels many companies would benefit from altering their onboarding process, to make new hires feel more welcomed by taking steps like holding check-ins and asking new hires “What questions do you have?”

She suggests having new hires shadow veteran employees, so that they can promptly learn best business practices.


Another noteworthy stat mentioned during Tuesday’s webinar: 22% of employee turnover occurs within the first 45 days of hiring. That’s why TriNet recommends making a concerted effort to connect with employees right after they accept their new position by offering a care package or hand-written welcome note from a superior.

Taking the aforementioned steps can help companies shift from the “Great Resignation” to the “Great Retention,” according to panelists. Ultimately, Gunn noted, it’s time for companies to have a renewed focus on hiring inclusively and compassionately.

“Take this on,” Gunn said. “Because if you’re not doing this, people will go to organizations that are.”