Workforce Planning And Talent Development Written On The Whitebo
Workforce planning and talent development written on the whiteboard.

The Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Attrition, the Great Negotiation – whatever you call it, changes in the workforce over the past few years have only made hiring more challenging. This is especially true in the food industry, which has been feeling a labor crunch since long before the pandemic.

The labor market is as tight as it’s ever been – there are two job openings for every unemployed person – and the quits rate has remained relatively steady as workers seek greener pastures. To attract and retain top talent in this environment, food and beverage companies need to be strategic about how they position the opportunities they offer. And the best place to start is by understanding what today’s workforce is looking for.

A recent global workforce survey by McKinsey & Company identified five types of workers, each of which has a unique set of job priorities. By understanding these talent pools, companies can shape their employee value proposition to align with job seekers’ priorities and preferences. Specifically, McKinsey suggests looking at what it would take to lure back workers who have left traditional full-time roles.

Today’s five talent pools, according to McKinsey


This is the group that companies are the most used to dealing with. McKinsey calls them “the star of the classic labor pool” because they’re easy to find through normal recruitment channels and they want typical things out of work, like career development opportunities and higher compensation.

The problem is that there just aren’t as many traditionalists out there as there used to be. And as time goes on, this group will likely continue to shrink. To fill their job openings now and into the future, companies need to look to the four “non-traditionalist” talent pools who make up the rest of the workforce.


This talent pool represented the largest share of McKinsey’s sample. These respondents are mostly between the ages of 25 and 45 and choose work that provides a high amount of autonomy (i.e., self-employment, gig work, etc.). To lure them back to a traditional job, companies need to offer flexibility and purpose, as well as adequate compensation.

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Caregivers are likely to be between the ages of 18 and 44, and more likely to be women than men. As the name suggests, they are often providing care for someone at home, so they need a work environment that provides flexibility and support.


The idealists are the youngest group (18-24). They often don’t yet have financial responsibilities like a mortgage, so their priorities have more to do with workplace culture (flexibility, purpose, and inclusive community) than with money.


Finally, the relaxers are people who aren’t necessarily looking for work, such as retirees. McKinsey suggests that companies reach out to employees who retired to see if they can win them back. This group is most likely to want meaningful work, flexibility, and opportunities for advancement. They also may start looking for jobs soon – the latest Workforce Monitor report from the American Staffing Association shows that a good chunk of this group might consider returning to the workforce if inflation continues or Social Security no longer covers their expenses.

For more insights into these talent pools and how to attract and retain them, read McKinsey’s full report.

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