Last spring, I blogged about the signs pointing to mass resignations as the COVID pandemic loosened its grip on our daily lives. Now, as we near the end of the year, statistics and probably your own experiences are telling us that the Great Resignation is underway. American workers left 20 million jobs between May and September this year, according to the latest federal data, which is more than 50 percent higher than the resignations handed in during the same period last year. That figure was also 15 percent above the level from spring and summer 2019, when the job market was the hottest it had been in almost 50 years.
In April alone, four million people quit their jobs. Researchers indicate that the bulk of those were retail and service workers emboldened by the government stimulus.
According to the Department of Labor, this past August there were a record-setting 4.3 million people who quit their jobs, and then in September, we beat that with 4.4 million resignations. Visier, a business data analytics company, published a report call “Stop the Exit” that provides some insight into the trends that are emerging as we move into the latter part of the year. And their data echoes the anecdotal stories I am hearing from O&P.
As we progress into 2022, data shows a dramatic increase in resignations over the pre-pandemic trends with more experienced professionals. High turnover is not uncommon in low-wage retail and service industries, which we saw earlier in the phase. But losing long-tenured workers is creating alarming disruption. Visier reports that employees ages 30-35, 40-45, and 45-50 have all increased their resignation rates by over 38 percent. Further, according to Inc. Magazine, the new wave of quitters are “much more likely to be millennial workers in tech and healthcare.” The Wall Street Journal tells us that these people are more likely to be women and people of color.
Why are all these people resigning? Here are some thoughts:
The Society for Human Resources Management gives three factors: 1) “the desire for better compensation and benefits,” 2) “the need for better work-life balance,” and 3) “a lack of recognition for what they do.”
Gallup says it is due to a “lack of engagement or even active disengagement.” And the global consulting firm DDI attributes the trend to employee burnout.
As a business owner and leader, the odds are that if you have not faced a personnel crisis yet this year, you will. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is more important than ever that we pay attention to the retention of key talent. The data suggests an urgent need for a data-driven approach to assess resignation risks, to identify and act on mitigation opportunities, and to monitor progress.
The loss of tenured, experienced employees can have a devastating impact on an O&P practice. There is a lot of knowledge that can be lost if these employees leave. Unfortunately, if your staff are experiencing the factors listed above, it is hard to implement a quick fix. The most important thing you can do today is assess your risk. Once you know that, you can decide the best course of action for your business.