Top Predictors of Employee Turnover During the Great Resignation | MIT Sloan Management Review

Talent Management

This article explores the top reasons workers have left their firms during the past several months. Relative to compensation—which ranks 16th among all topics that predict employee turnover—the top five are: 1) Toxic corporate culture (10.4x more likely to contribute to attrition than compensation), 2) Job insecurity and reorganization (3.5x), 3) High levels of innovation (3.2x), 4) Failure to recognize employee performance (2.9x), and 5) Poor response to COVID-19 (1.8x). Surprisingly, employees are more likely to exit from innovative companies. One explanation offered is “innovation typically requires employees to put in longer hours, work at a faster pace, and endure more stress than they would in a slower-moving company.” While being aware of broader retention themes is a useful starting point, the factors influencing retention can vary significantly by each individual. For example, a few of my most important factors do not make the top five “retention predictors” suggested by different reports. This observation reinforces the limitations inherent in generalized employee retention themes. If managers are concerned about retention risk, they can start by asking their workers directly about how they are doing, what keeps them motivated to stay, what they have concerns about, and what can be done to improve those feelings. Managers can pick one idea within their control and affect change while organizational leaders address broader themes (e.g., policy on remote work) that may be impacting employee retention in general.

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