The “Great Resignation” reached a peak in November 2021 as the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that a record-breaking 4.5 million workers voluntarily resigned from their employment. This represented an increase of almost 9% from October 2021 and was the largest number of resignations in more than 20 years.

In what Industries are people resigning? According to the BLS, the top fields most affected by the resignations are: leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and education and health services. The resignation rate is highest among lower paid employees.

Why are employees resigning? The resignations are attributed to a variety of factors, including ongoing health concerns. That is, some workers are worried about the pandemic and are hesitant to return to a workplace that is not 100% vaccinated. Parents also are still struggling with childcare needs. In addition, employees generally want to reduce stress and expenses where possible and seek flexible work arrangements that allow them to work from home partially or completely. Some workers have resigned to seek better compensation and benefits from employers who are desperate to fill positions. And some workers are simply looking for better work-life balance, recognition for their work, better company culture and values that align with theirs.

What can employers do to improve retention? While the benefits employers offer depends on the demographics of their workplace, there are several non-economic and, of course, economic benefits to consider. The two most popular ones are:

Flexible work options: The most demanded work benefit today is the ability to work from home. Research shows that employees desire flexibility in where and when they work. Many individuals are looking for entirely remote jobs that allow them to work from any location. Hybrid arrangements that allow workers to work from home a couple of days each week are popular in businesses where entirely remote choices are not viable. Flexible work hours, such as allowing employees to work during non-traditional hours or compressed workweeks, may be an option for positions that cannot be done remotely.

Career development: Employees are more engaged when they believe their employer is invested in their professional development. To foster this, employers can: (1) emphasize several career paths within their organization, allowing employees to see what possibilities are available; and (2) employers can provide development tools like mentoring and coaching to help employees achieve their objectives.

In addition to flexibility and career development, attractive compensation and health-care benefits are amongst the most common motivations of retention. However, in today’s job market, that may not be sufficient. The following are some other benefits that may entice employees to stay or get onboard:

  • Generous paid time off (beyond the traditional vacation and sick time);
  • Home office support if remote work is available;
  • Onsite offerings like childcare centers, and free and/or healthy food options;
  • Wellness support that include sabbatical leave, coaching, workstation accommodations;
  • Inclusive workplaces;
  • Educational assistance (i.e., tuition reimbursement or student loan repayment assistance); and
  • Other non-traditional benefits, such as pet-friendly perks.
  • Other recommendations for establishing or strengthening employee retention efforts include addressing employee concerns, communicating effectively and frequently, offering accommodations, being accessible to employees, educating managers on employee relations and providing support when feasible.

If you have questions about what you can do to improve your employee retention, contact a member of Carmody’s Labor & Employment team.

This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.