McKinsey Reveals: Leaders Are Wrong About Why Employees Quit

McKinsey Reveals: Leaders Are Wrong About Why Employees Quit

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You might have heard about a little phenomenon called The Great Resignation.

In August 2021, the number of people who quit their jobs hit a new record. And that number continues to climb. (Which, by the way, is why we’ve been giving you resources to cut your quit rate in half and retain diverse talent).

People are voluntarily leaving their employers for a variety of reasons. The hardest hit sectors have been restaurants, hotels, and retail—although The Great Resignation crosses industries, demographics, and state lines. 

The mass exodus poses a big problem for employers, many of whom already don’t have the headcount they need. But what we find most alarming is the fact that, according to a new McKinsey study, most business leaders don’t understand what the problem actually is.

By not understanding what their employees are running from, and what they might gravitate to, company leaders are putting their very businesses at risk.

As a result, they’re intervening—no doubt out of desperation—in ways that don’t solve the problem. Many organizations are making changes to compensation, benefits, and job perks, while altogether overlooking the relational elements responsible for driving their people away.

Why are employees leaving?

The data speaks loud and clear. People are eagerly searching for meaning, belonging, holistic care, and appreciation at work.

Yet the factors employers think are important are more transactional in nature—things like compensation and flexibility.

The study reveals that employers must treat things like fair compensation and flexibility as the new bare minimum. Instead, they must focus on “the deeper employee experience and relational elements,” as their new competitive advantage.

Yet the factors employers think are important are more transactional in nature—things like compensation and flexibility.

For managers and executives out of touch with the needs and wants of their workforce, the attrition problem will only get worse. One startling aspect of the current moment is that 36% of those who left their jobs did so without another job in hand. That number reveals the degree to which some people are unhappy in their current situations, as they’re willing to trade financial stability for relief from the environments that are crushing them.

What’s more? Now that geographical location is essentially irrelevant, employees who might have been “satisfied enough” in their role could easily be enticed by an opportunity that sounds even better. 

What can leaders do?

So, how do we turn The Great Attrition into The Great Attraction? By becoming students of our employees’ needs, then devoting ourselves to improving the employee experience.

Here are some tactical steps to help you do just that:

Train managers as coaches, and make it easy for them to succeed.

More people leave their jobs over unappreciative managers than any other single reason—so make sure you have the right people in management, then equip them with everything they need to excel. 

Are you offering training that grows managers to be relationally savvy, emotionally-aware coaches? Have you made giving recognition easy? Do you have a way for feedback to flow continuously? If not, Work Tango  can help. Remember, leaders who thrived in the office may not lead as well in a remote/hybrid model. Pay attention.

Invest in perks, rewards, and benefits that employees actually want

We can’t stress enough how critical it is to know your people’s needs and preferences. From there, it’s easy to design rewards that match. 

For example: 45% of workers in the McKinsey study stated job changes were driven partly by a need to care for family. How could you support families with your offerings? Work Tango allows you to customize your rewards with things like earned time off, offer bonuses for behaviors you want to encourage, and create community experiences that work for both remote and on-site workers. 

Support in-office, remote, and hybrid work

Location-agnostic positions are becoming increasingly attractive. According to the report, 90% of people who took jobs in a new city were not required to relocate. Also on the rise are flexible schedules. These allow workers to choose their most productive hours, balance family life, and pursue other interests. 

But there’s a catch: Not everyone needs or wants the same option. For every employee who thrives in a work-from-home environment, there’s another one who desperately wants the connection and communication that working full-time from the office can provide. The complexity for leaders comes in building connection and communication no matter what.

Building employee experience with Work Tango