The bigger picture behind The Great Resignation

We all know employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers. But what’s the story behind this story? New research has dug a bit deeper to see what’s actually happening – and the news is stark: more than half of your company’s new hires are (most likely), already looking elsewhere, according to Maurice Bell, head of people operations at Lattice:

To say 2022 has so-far been a record one for people leaving their jobs is probably one of the biggest understatements of the year. It began in January with an all-time high of 4.3 million employees quitting their jobs (the eighth consecutive month with more than four million workers leaving their roles). Since then, the trend has only continued. February and March have showed similar numbers, and April is looking no better either.

But what’s driving the change? We’ve all heard anecdotal evidence suggesting the pandemic spurred many to reconsider their relationships with work, or perhaps even their chosen career path. Others suggest workers are simply pursuing higher wages.

But the actual reasons may be more nuanced than that. We recently surveyed 2,000 employees in the U.S. and Europe to better understand the Great Resignation and its causes.

Just who are these workers, and what are their motivations? Here are some of our key takeaways.

1) The Great Resignation is only accelerating

If you think the worst is over for businesses, think again. The data suggests the Great Resignation hasn’t even hit its stride.

We found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of US employees are either actively looking or are open to new opportunities in the next 6-12 months.

When we surveyed the same subset of employees last fall, just 47% were. Younger generations seem to be particularly keen on evaluating their options:

  • 60% of Gen Z employees reported they are actively looking
  • 50% of millennials are actively looking

By comparison, just 33% of US employees aged 45-54 are looking. Things are even more volatile in the UK, where employees are more likely (53%) than US employees (45%) to report that they are actively looking for a new role.

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2) Younger workers value more than money

Pursuit of higher wages might contribute to some of the shift, but it’s hardly the lead driver, especially among younger workers. Compared to Gen Z, older workers in the US (Gen X and boomers) are 25% more likely to view compensation as extremely important when evaluating jobs. The difference was nearly identical in the UK.

So what are younger workers looking for? For starters, career growth and guidance. Some 41% of millennials rated opportunities for mentorship as extremely important. Only 18% of boomers shared that sentiment. Similarly, “opportunities for career advancement” ranked as extremely important to a greater majority of Millennials (59%) than Boomers (43%) or Gen X (48%).

Beyond compensation and growth, younger workers are looking for something more personal: A place where they belong. Compared to boomers, Gen Z and millennials were twice as likely to state “lack of belonging” as a reason to pursue other opportunities. These findings suggest that it takes more than dollars and lucrative promotions to retain top talent in the current job climate

3) Over half of new hires are already looking

There used to be an unwritten rule amongst new hires: If you want to change jobs, even after recently joining a company, you need to “tough it out” for at least a year.

Well, our data shows this notion may be a thing of the past. In the US, 52% of employees with tenures of three months or less are looking to leave. Nearly 60% of employees with three-to-six month tenures are trying to do the same. The trend is even starker in the UK, where 65% of employees with three-to-six month tenures are looking.

Overall, the most at-risk employees have been at their companies for 7-11 months. With research showing employee burnout at all-time highs, it’s never been more critical to find ways to address it early and often.

Maurice Bell is head of people ops at Lattice, where he focuses on developing and driving people strategies that tap into the highest levels of employee engagement, retention, and performance.

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