Thu, November 25, 2021


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Employees across industries are quitting in record numbers

Since April 2021, more than 19 million workers in the US have left their jobs. The unprecedented exodus is causing severe disruption to American businesses, with employee attitudes reflected across many parts of the developed world.

A study by global management consultants McKinsey showed that 40 percent of survey respondents were at least ‘somewhat likely’ to leave their employer in the next three to six months. 18 percent of respondents said their intentions ranged from ‘likely’ to ‘almost certain’. These findings were consistent across Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the USA, and were broadly consistent across industries.

More than one third of people who walked out of their jobs in the last six months did so without having a new job to go to, showing a fundamental difference between this and previous cycles of downturn and recovery.

The figure was higher in the healthcare sector, with 42 percent of workers who left work doing so without having a new job to go to – a symptom of the toll taken on frontline workers in the pandemic.

Despite the risk to businesses, companies are not doing enough to understand why this is occurring, instead opting for superficial solutions that do not tackle systemic issues. But well-intentioned quick fixes are not enough, the report’s authors said:

“Bumping up pay or financial perks without strengthen the relational ties [results in employees] sensing a transaction,” rather than appreciation. “This transactional relationship reminds them that their real needs aren’t being met.”

The report’s authors show that the ‘Great Resignation’ is “widespread and likely to persist – if not accelerate – and many companies don’t understand what’s really going on, despite their best efforts.”

McKinsey predicts the employer-employee relationship will continue to change as companies move into the new territory of post-pandemic working. The report advises that a ‘heavy-handed back-to-the-office policy’ or other rigid mandate is likely to backfire. Instead, they advise self-reflection and consultation with employees to overcome the risk of alienating important stakeholders in any business – the employees.

They also recommend managers and directors consider the following questions:

  • Are our benefits aligned with employee priorities?

  • Can we provide employees with positive career paths and development opportunities?

  • How are we building a sense of community?

  • Is our work environment transactional?

  • How strong was our culture before the pandemic?

  • Do we have the right people in the right places (especially managers)?

  • Do we shelter toxic leaders?

More at McKinsey.com