The U.S. Labor Department's monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey was released this morning; this report focused on December 2022, and the news exceeded expectations. As Reuters reported, "Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased by 572,000 to a five-month high of 11 million on the last day of December. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 10.25 million job openings."
Granted, this report looks at the month before we saw layoffs at Salesforce (8,000 jobs lost), Microsoft (an estimated 11,000 jobs cut) and Google (12,000 jobs eliminated), among other tech companies. However, ADP's national employment report for January 2023, which logged changes in private sector employment, documented 105,000 new jobs for the month. The U.S. job market is clearly experiencing a lot of turnover.
Those readjustments show that workplace strategists are dealing with two very important employee transitions, quite possibly at the same time. It's important to get those transitions right. Offboarding people and onboarding people in this age of hybrid work requires a great deal of care and consideration.
Whenever I've changed jobs, I've always found the wind-down process to be sobering. In addition to collecting my best work for future portfolio use and writing whatever documentation a manager has asked for, there's also the tying-up of loose ends so my current colleagues and my successor aren't left cursing my name. After all, my departure process is someone else's onboarding process -- and an onboarding process is the best chance to make a good workplace impression.
When onboarding was in person, informal office standards really provided helpful context clues. At one of my first jobs, an engineer came by to set me up with all the internal tools I needed, then said, "Come to lunch with my department. You need to know where the best burritos in the neighborhood are." That invitation -- and the subsequent lunch where a developer explained in detail how to assess a burrito along multiple matrices -- showed me everything I needed to know about the office culture and how seriously the engineering department took its work—and its lunches.
In hybrid and remote workplaces, it's harder to send or receive those office culture signals, so workplace strategists need to be more intentional in identifying those clues and incorporating them into employee transitions into and out of the office. And workplace strategists should remember that these onboarding and offboarding processes also affect the current workforce. As contributor Nathan Eddy reported for us this past week, workplace strategists need to remember to keep colleagues engaged as they weather changes like layoffs.
Not everyone is going to be lucky enough to have a burrito tutorial as part of their onboarding process. But everyone can start thinking about how best to welcome or send off colleagues. If the national numbers are anything to go by, we'll have plenty of opportunities to do both over the next few months.