What’s Behind the Great Resignation, and How To Attract & Retain Great Employees
These last few years have been challenging, to say the least. For working professionals and organizations, since the very start of the Covid crisis our working lives have changed dramatically. Most of us are familiar with the term, The Great Resignation. But what does this mean, what’s behind the Great Resignation, and why should it matter to employers?
What’s Behind the Great Resignation?
A Microsoft study shows that 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their current employer within the next year. There are many reasons employees leave their current jobs, and the pandemic is only one small part of the movement. In 2021, an unprecedented 47 million Americans voluntarily resigned from their jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This mass exodus, widely known as the Great Resignation, has reshaped the labor market and caused many to panic thinking we are in turbulent times. However, statistics show us that employees are following a trend over the past dozen years.
People aren’t quitting en-masse because of the pandemic. In fact, the exact opposite trend happened in 2020. You can see in this infographic that the resignation rate slowed that year, perhaps because employees were uncertain of their futures or wary of exploring other options. But as 2021 brought stimulus checks, a thriving stock market, and a booming housing market, it also renewed staff turnover as Americans left the workforce in record numbers. It seems scary at first, but data shows us that we are following a trend and can expect employee attrition to rise an average of .1% each year.
Infographic Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Why are people quitting their jobs?
By looking at the factors, we can better understand what’s shaping people’s behavior and how to make our workplaces more appealing to current and future employees. People’s motivations have shifted as they reconsidered work/life balance and the ability to care for and be present with loved ones. Here are the top reported reasons that someone leaves a job.
Many low wage industries have seen major spikes in turnover rates, but that doesn’t mean people are leaving the labor market. The media tends to focus on high quit rates, but they don’t often mention that people are quitting to take other jobs. Better wages, better benefits, and better work/life balance all seem to play a part in these decisions. In other words, most Americans quit their job quite simply to get a better job.
It’s no surprise that workers feel burnout, and turnover is a natural result. Whether physical or psychological, feeling unheard or undervalued, or seeing workload spike when they’re already overwhelmed, if employees feel their concerns aren’t being heard or addressed they will become frustrated and ultimately quit. A toxic environment is the #1 reason people leave.
- Supply and Demand
There are far more open job listings than applicants, and the workforce recognizes this. For the first time, the business needs them more than they need the business. Motivated people who do want to work understand that they’re worth more, and have true leverage in seeking a career. Three million more jobs than available workers is a staggering statistic. And with remote work as a valid option, it’s no longer about who’s within commuting distance.
Retirement and early retirement of course play a part, with seniors exiting the workforce or deciding to retire early. The stock market and housing market have likely been a major influence in this decision, but other reasons could be health concerns or a desire to spend more time with family and friends.
How to Attract & Retain Great Employees
Listen to Your Staff
If you are struggling with employee turnover, understanding the factors that lead people to quit is an important first step. Listen to any staff frustration and make serious efforts to ease that stress. Ask open-ended questions and pay attention to what employees’ pain points are. Their voice is critical for engagement, and when staff is engaged it results in better performance, productivity, and retention.
Offer Attractive Benefits
To attract and retain talent, consider what benefits people gain by choosing you. Do you offer paid time off, 401K matching, insurance, paid holidays? Do you offer flexible scheduling and/or location? Is there opportunity to work from home, or hybrid, or fully remote? All of these benefits will help you stay competitive in the market.
Long Term Goals
Are your employees able to grow and develop in their position? Do you promote from within for new opportunities? Do you offer training and education to improve staff knowledge? Do you offer clear direction, like performace goals and tangible metrics?
All of the above are components that will reward greater loyalty with your employees, and promote an environment focused on long-term growth. Employees will stay where they feel respected, heard, secure, and appreciated.
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