How the Great Resignation is Impacting Northern Colorado

December 15, 2021

SeonAh Kendall 
City of Fort Collins
Recovery Manager 

For many years, we have talked about the “war for talent.” There have not been many positives during the COVID pandemic – shut down, essential vs nonessential, loss of life, uncertainty and so much more. However, what we are now seeing is that if there truly was a “war for talent,” talent won.

We in Northern Colorado are not immune to the great resignation that is happening all over the country. From the “Help wanted” signs on doors, billboards and elsewhere, the Great Resignation is here.

Lack of workforce creates a myriad of challenges for our local businesses, who are also struggling with increased costs, supply chain issues and other pandemic impacts. More than half of businesses responded to a recent survey in Northern Colorado that they are being impacted by a shortage of employees.  

Many were quick to blame this “Great Resignation” – the ongoing trend of employees leaving their jobs in record numbers – on government benefits that incentivize staying out of the workforce.  In Colorado, special pandemic unemployment benefits ended in September, yet workforce issues persist. Increasing evidence shows the root causes of this Great Resignation are much more complex than they may seem at first glance.

The pandemic and its disruptions are changing the way we view our lives and our work. 

It’s causing many workers to reevaluate priorities and plans – pushing them to look for new opportunities. Maybe it’s finding something better paying, something more flexible, something remote. Maybe it’s about trying something new – like starting your own business. These changes are varied and unique as are the specific whys behind the changes, but the pandemic is the root cause.  

It’s important to note however that the current gaps in our workforce aren’t caused wholly by those voluntarily leaving their jobs for a new venture or greener pastures. For many, the choice to exit the workforce or to try to get back in is dictated by external factors and barriers. For many – including women, people of color and others –  barriers (such as lack of access to affordable and available childcare, skills training, etc.) existed long before the pandemic, decreasing financial stability and the ability to thrive.

So what do we do?

We know there is no one size fits all approach, but there are opportunities for us to create policies and programs to close the gaps and more importantly reduce barriers so our workforce can recover. Reducing barriers that disproportionately impact historically under-represented groups is especially important for building stability and ultimately resilience.   

As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, there were not many positives from the pandemic. However, in Northern Colorado, innovation and partnership have been key to helping keep our community safe and open; and must continue as we face the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. 

I am always excited and in awe of how our communities come together to collaborate and innovate to build a more resilient and vibrant economy. So, if you’ve put your job search on hold, now is the time to reengage. Work in Northern Colorado.

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