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Dear Kristy: Is The Great Resignation affecting the restoration industry?

recruiting employees, hiring employeesDear Kristy,

I’ve been reading articles about something called The Great Resignation. How do you foresee this impacting hiring and retention in the restoration industry?  


Johanna in Chicago

Hello Johanna!

In March of this year, Wylander had its busiest month for new acquisitions ever, and we can tell you that pace really has not slowed. But I believe our industry is unique – and a lot of that hiring was for growth, not replacements.

More recently, there have been more instances of companies needing to replace people they hired years ago, but in general, companies need our services because they are growing or have the normal amount of turnover; nothing out of the ordinary.

Here are my thoughts on The Great Resignation as it relates to the restoration industry:

  1. The Restoration Industry is unique.

A big reason for The Great Resignation is people in other industries got used to working remotely, and have no desire to go back into the office. It was proven during the COVID-19 that working remotely is feasible for a lot of industries. This is where service-based industries, like restoration, are unique. Remote work obviously does not apply to construction in general, other than some office positions. When recruiting for sales and controller-type positions, we have had more candidates ask and prefer remote work than pre-pandemic. But that is certainly not a question or expectation for 90% of the positions we hire for, which are in the field: project managers, estimators, operations, etc.

Because most of the restoration industry does require in-person work, that expectation is already set for most of the candidate pool, so we won’t face a mass exodus of people suddenly hoping to work from home.

  1. The candidate pool could widen, if you’re willing to hire for character and train for skill. 

We are constantly encouraging our clients to hire people with skills that complement restoration, who can be trained into a new position. We have had many restoration companies choose to hire for certain positions this way, and they’ve had great success.

For example, if you’re looking for an estimator, don’t get stuck on them being Xactimate-proficient. Someone who is tech-savvy can be trained for that. We have also seen restorers hire project coordinators with great customer service skills, but no construction or admin background, and also seen general managers and operations managers with great, adaptable leadership skills come into the restoration industry and thrive.

With a bigger candidate pool, don’t be afraid to hire people with skills that complement your company.

  1. “Freelance” work could affect the subcontractor pool.

According to Forbes article I linked to above, it is projected that freelancers could make up 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2027. Guess what that includes? Subcontractors. The Great Resignation does partially have to do with people wanting to create their own schedules, and that is possible to a certain degree for subcontractors. That could mean seeing a growth in the subcontractor pool over the next few years.

  1. People are looking for purpose, not just a paycheck.

Hiring expert Ken Coleman has spent a lot of time lately talking about the importance of people following their purpose, and how the money follows. In a blog post in June 2021, Coleman wrote:

“You were creative to fill a unique role. You are needed. You must do it. The human heart aches for meaning – and if you don’t chase it, you’ll get to the end of your journey and your heart will still be aching because it never felt the joy of significance.”

It is believed that in this post-pandemic world, fewer people will be willing to stay in a job that carries little meaning or value to them, personally. This is good news for the restoration industry as it not only provides a really solid career path, but also brings deep meaning to those who want a job that involves helping and serving others.