Voluntary attrition has increased dramatically this year all over the world, including India. Different reasons have been given for it include the need for remote work and flexibility by employees as well as availability of more options for them. Some individuals have reported quitting their jobs or consider quitting if their employers are not flexible about remote work and this is even more pronounced for the millennials and Gen Z (between 18 and 25) people (49% according to a Bloomberg poll).
A recent McKinsey study showed that this attrition is likely to continue with nearly 36% of employees quitting even without having a new job in hand. The main reasons cited for quitting by employees in this study were: not feeling valued by their organizations or managers, or not feeling a sense of belonging at work. “Employees prioritize relational factors and employees focus on transactional ones.” People report wanting to work in places where they are valued.
Another study by Microsoft found that high productivity is masking an exhausted workforce with 54% of respondents feeling overworked. This same study also found that leaders were out of touch with their employees and authenticity would improve productivity and wellbeing. Interestingly this year of remote work made their work more human. The stress and fear of the pandemic made people reach out to each other at work and be their authentic selves. So, the whole notion of ‘bring your entire self’ to work was paradoxically more likely to be accomplished in this past year of remote/hybrid work.
Some of the proposed steps to curb this attrition include addressing burnout especially for women whose workload has increased significantly. Gen Z individuals report a greater struggle at work including feeling engaged or excited about work. The Microsoft study reported that about 60% of Gen Z individuals say that “they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling right now.” Burnouts are rarely the individual employee’s problem. They are driven by company policies and work culture including unmanageable workloads and unreasonable time pressure, a lack of role clarity, unfair treatment at work, lack of communication and support from manager. Addressing these challenges and placing an emphasis on employee wellbeing is much more important than any wellbeing quick fix like a few wellbeing sessions, yoga/meditation at work.
One of the mental health champions I follow ardently on Twitter, Tanmoy@Toymango, writes brilliantly about identifying mental health schemes at the workplace as a potential greenwashing scam akin to the greenwashing identified in companies by environmentalists He lists eight sins to spot in such schemes, including the sin of no proof (saying they are inclusive without providing any evidence of it), sin of vagueness (“we are a people-driven company”), sin of hidden trade-off (making feel good claims of four day work weeks without reducing work load) and sin of good intentions (involving words starting with “we must..”) without actually doing much. Attrition may continue especially when employees see such schemes at the workplace.
In my following posts I will address what steps organizations can take towards a sustainable effort in ensuring wellbeing amongst employees.