Executive Search

What Effect Does the Great Resignation Have on Executive Search

Originally a response to inadequate protection of workers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation — also known as the Big Quit — has taken on a life of its own as a critical reflection of corporate America through social upheaval. While 9.6 million American workers were put out of work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic, in July 2021 alone, over 4 million workers quit their jobs. While many industries have been affected by the movement, its effects have been significant on the executive search industry as well.

DSML is an executive search and recruitment firm in Chicago and Boston that specializes in recruiting for European subsidiaries in the USA. While this is a time of fluctuation for many companies, we urge our clients to consider the implications of the Great Resignation in their search for talent. While resignations are high in Europe as well, no market has seen quite as significant of a shift as the US labor market. For European companies hiring executives for their US subsidiaries, especially small and medium-sized companies, the effect of the Great Resignation is greater.

Executive Search is Changing

The reality is, the Great Resignation is altering the world of executive search recruitment and reshaping its future. The COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for a major shift in mentality. The collective experience of the pandemic made many look at not only their current work conditions with a much more critical eye but their long-term goals and sometimes entire careers as well. This shift away from the corporate, business-as-usual status quo has pervaded not just the mindset of the modern employee and candidate but is increasingly incorporated within businesses’ structures themselves.

Businesses that are prioritizing things such as flexible hours, remote work, strong medical coverage, and more are of increased importance to today’s workforce. Businesses who implement these improved work conditions where possible are those that will thrive on the other side of the Great Resignation and be more likely to retain employees, even in the event of the Great Resignation 2.0. But, implementing change begins at the top, and it starts with well-planned and implemented executive search recruitment.

“If key executives and leaders of these companies are not changing how they lead,” Myriam Le Cannellier, co-founder of DSML Executive Search, stated in a recent article, “employees are more likely now to leave if their needs are not being met.”

The CEO Role is Also Being Impacted

While the Great Resignation is often spoken of as referring to middle management and individual contributor roles, it’s important to know that executives, even CEOs, are not invulnerable to the cultural changes taking place in corporate America. Exits of CEOs were up 54% year over year this past October. The impact of these resignations and key executives’ behaviors is not to be underestimated and can be counteracted with the help of a CEO executive search firm, like DSML.

“CEOs cast a “leadership shadow” over an organization, essentially setting the tone for the culture of the entire organization that impacts the employee experience,” Rose Gailey, partner and global lead for Heidrick Consulting at Heidrick & Struggles shared with Forbes. “Given this very powerful and often unspoken role the CEO has, a transition at the top equals a dynamic change in the environment of any company.”

Recruiting for European Companies in the USA Has Become More Complex

This means that for European companies looking to expand their businesses into the US, executive hires hold more weight than ever. To attract and entice top-tier talent, these companies will have to play by the American hiring landscape’s rules. A company’s offerings have to align with the priorities of the post-Great Resignation candidate: better PTO structures, healthier working environment, location flexibility, company culture, and more.

Naturally, the executives brought in to lead your US subsidiary will both help dictate and reinforce some of these aspects like culture, as well as strategy, mission, and values. Of course technical, industry-specific skills will always remain invaluable when hiring for C-suite and other executive hires. But, successful executive hires will be a new breed of leader: those with a different set of skills, based in emotional intelligence. This includes empathy, self-awareness, and strong communication skills. When combined with years of leadership experience, these skills create a prime executive candidate to lead your subsidiary, by building a culture centered around cross-cultural understanding, helping create a sense of pride and purpose in employees, and knowing the value of their team.

If you’re a European company looking to expand into the US and want to find the right executive candidates to successfully navigate cross-cultural challenges, contact us.

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