Coined “The Great Resignation” by Anthony Klotz, quitting has hit the highest level in two decades — nearly 12% of workers have left since April of this year. Studies estimate that 40% to 95% of workers are currently considering changing jobs, the biggest group being mid-level employees, ages 30 to 45.
Who is leaving? A study by Visier, a people analytics firm, found that, “Resignation rates were higher among employees who worked in fields that had experienced extreme increases in demand due to the pandemic, likely leading to increased workloads and burnout,” according to a Harvard Business Review article detailing the study’s results.
It comes as no surprise that healthcare workers are leaving in droves. Quit rates are also high in the hospitality fields as well as technology. Tech workers bore the burden of enabling work to continue through the lockdowns. Amrita Khalid, a staff writer at Inc.com, writes that, “2020 saw a decade of digital transformation in the span of a few months.”
Women have also resigned in record numbers, many during the early stages of the pandemic to handle child care and school closures.
While this mass loss of talent may be disconcerting, it provides leaders with an incredible opportunity to position themselves as an employer of choice. Training is poised to play a critical role in retaining your skilled talent and attracting new people to fill open positions.
Burnout is the number one reason employees cite for leaving their current jobs. Burnout is a diagnosable state brought on by long-term stress. According to Drs. Emily and Amelia Nagoski, co-authors of “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle,” there are three main components of burnout, including:
- Emotional exhaustion: the fatigue that comes from caring too much for too long.
- A lack of accomplishment: an unconquerable sense of futility, feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.
- Depersonalization: the depletion of empathy, caring and compassion.
Burnout has hit extraordinary levels, with 89% of workers in this dangerous state.
Burnout creeps up slowly making us too tired to care or take positive action. Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of “The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World,” writes that, “Sadly, most people don’t even notice its gradual grip over their lives until it’s too late. By then, external intervention is necessary to move burnout patients toward positive change.” This is why burnout is also referred to as “the erosion of the soul.”
Training Opportunity No. 1:
Provide training on what burnout is and the dangerous impact it has on engagement, decision making, attrition and even civility. Give leaders strategies for spotting and reducing burnout among their teams, and give employees the tools for helping themselves move through it.
Organizational change is another key reasons people are leaving their jobs: A Gartner study estimates that people’s capacity to handle change is now 50% of what it was before the pandemic. Too much change in a short period of time, or poorly designed change, drives resistance and change fatigue. People are seeking workplaces where change is better managed.
Training Opportunity No. 2
Harvard Business Review determined that 50% to 70% of change initiatives fail. Implementing change management training can significantly shift success rates as you equip leaders with better tools for designing and launching change. Change is an organization-wide effort and if you also support your managers and employees with the skills they need, you can create a more adaptive and resilient workforce.
Inclusion and Psychological Safety
While burnout is the number one reason that people are leaving their jobs (at 40%), instances of discrimination came in third at 20%. As the pandemic wore on, Voodle’s “Hybrid Workplace 2021 Report” found that 48% of employees felt that their voice often goes unheard in meetings and 57% have noticed that their colleagues’ voices go unheard.
After the murder of George Floyd, workers expected their leaders to take a stand on internal policies, listen to their concerns and even weigh in on state and national matters. Some people found themselves in alignment with their organizations’ values and others realized they needed to move on to another organization where they could feel safer.
Training Opportunity No. 3
Keep expanding your diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Training your people on unconscious bias, privilege, inclusion and belonging consistently create positive benefits like psychological safety, which is proven to improve performance and retention. This can be a critical differentiator in the competition to attract and retain talent.
Consider these recent findings:
- 84% of U.S. workers say poorly trained managers create unnecessary stress.
- 57% say they have quit a job because of a bad boss, and of those who stayed, one-third seriously considered leaving.
- 50% of employees feel their own performance would improve if their boss received the right kind of manager training.
- 30% of managers are toxic, actively undermining the efficacy, dignity and ultimately self-worth of employees.
Managers create the day-to-day experience for the majority of your workforce, so the real culture of your organization lives in their hands. The return on investment for manager training can be quite impressive because every shift in their skills impacts the costs of absenteeism, stress, disengagement and turnover.
Training Opportunity No. 4
When given the right training, managers can become the “secret sauce” that turns a good organization into a great one. In fact, Gallup’s “State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders” report found that good managers increase the productivity and engagement of their teams as well as attract new top performers.
Growth and Development
Did you know that “opportunities to learn and grow” are consistently one of the top qualities candidates look for in an employer? In fact, 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as a top factor when job hunting. Jessica Stillman, a contributor for Inc.com, writes that, “Workers aren’t just looking for higher pay, more time off, or more days at home (though those things would surely help in the short term). They’re actually questioning the whole meaning of the daily grind. Why do we put so much of ourselves into our careers? And are we getting a fair deal from our employers in return for all this stress and heartache?”
Learning opportunities are a vital part of that equation along with helping employees identify the meaning of work and developing their sense of purpose. L&D can be a powerful way you show employees how much you care about them.
Training Opportunity No. 5
Your organization should offer a robust range of learning opportunities including DE&I initiatives, wellness, and manager training. Now is the time to invest in cutting edge programs, hire experienced professionals, and use best practices to drive real behavior change. When you consider that it costs 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them, investments in learning will more than pay off for years to come.
A Business Insider article explains, “One hopefully silver lining of this horrible pandemic would be if the world of work transitioned to a more healthy, sustainable place for employee well-being.” Learning is the way we create that.