The Great Resignation. It’s a topic a lot of decision makers are talking about. And with good reason. Following the first wave of the COVID pandemic, many employees quit their jobs. So many that employers are looking carefully at the data. Who’s quitting? And, perhaps most importantly, what’s the real reason everyone is quitting their jobs right now?
The Great Resignation is the name attached to a large trend of employees leaving their jobs. This first showed signs in April of 2021 when 4 million quit their jobs. That number rose to 4.4 million in September, dipped to 4.2 million in October and jumped to a new height of 4.5 million in November. According to the Department of Labor, that means 3% of workers voluntarily left their positions.
As of December, unemployment has fallen to 3.9 percent, from 4.2 in November. Economists believe this indicates a shortage of labor supply, not a lack of demand. So why are people quitting? Let’s take a look at the industries impacted.
We can gain some insights looking at which industries have experienced the most exits. Restaurants and hotels have experienced the largest amount of job loss and worker shortage, followed by education and health services, then trade transportation and utilities. Professional and business services have also seen their share of exits.
While one might expect employees leaving service industry and hospitality jobs due to poor wages and difficult schedules, the exits from other industries cannot be explained so easily. So if it isn’t specifically wages or difficult schedules, what’s the real reason everyone is quitting their jobs right now? Perhaps it has more to do with the specific demographic.
According to the Harvard Business Review, mid-level employees between the ages of 30 and 45 left their positions at a higher rate than previous years. In fact, the increase was over 20% between 2020 and 2021. Workers more likely to resign, those ranging from 20 to 25, left at a lower rate than typical. While this information may point to employees jumping from one job to another in a time of demand, this blanket assumption doesn’t cover the whole of the great resignation.
An analysis of Glassdoor reviews by a workforce intelligence company revealed company culture to be 12.4 times more likely to impact employee resignation than compensation. The analysis of over 1.4 million reviews for companies across almost 40 industries indicates that a toxic workplace will influence an employee to leave, whether they’re bussing tables or working spreadsheets. In other words, rather than deal with toxicity in the workplace, employees are quitting. Now the question becomes: what can my company do?
Now is not a time to tell your employees what you think they want to hear. Now is the time to listen to what they have to say. Depending on how you do it, a companywide survey may cost money, but that money is nothing compared to the cost of hiring and training new hires as more and more employees leave. If you want to focus on recruitment and retention, you need to know what employees want, and you need to be willing to find a way to provide it.
One example is health and wellness. A three year study recently found that employees more engaged with a company’s health and wellness programs had better relationships with co-workers, long-term wellbeing and general job satisfaction. Have a look at your company culture. Is it doing enough for the company’s employees?
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