The U.S. labor market remains tight, in spite of recent changes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported approximately 4.2 million workers quit their jobs in August 2022, unchanged from July 2022 and down just slightly from 4.3 million in June. You may have heard of the Great Resignation of older employees that's fueling the fires. But there's more. Other trends — including "quiet quitting" and "echo quits" — are being cited as significant factors.
Your business doesn't have to succumb to the malaise. By taking proactive measures to retain top-quality workers and targeting new hires, you can keep the operation humming on all cylinders.
The term quiet quitting, which purportedly originated on TikTok, is a misnomer in that employees aren't actually "quitting." Instead, they're staying on the job, but slowing down. Although the exact definition remains somewhat vague, essentially employees aren't working as hard as they did before, or at least not as hard as their employers expect them to.
This trend doesn't mean that people are giving up on working altogether because most people can't afford to not work. It more aptly reflects differing views of the company and its employees.
For the last few decades, typical workplace culture has embraced those who were ready, willing and able to go the extra mile on behalf of their employer, regardless of the consequences to their personal lives. But the number of workers burning the midnight oil, or simply getting burned out, is trending down.
The point isn't to give less to their employers. It's mostly about finding a better balance between work and personal life, so that Little League games and dance recitals aren't sacrificed due to work-related commitments. As frustrating as that might be for employers, it's a new reality. Smart employers will try to listen and learn from the quiet quitters.
Sometimes employees quit a job and latch on somewhere else, only to quit again shortly thereafter. This phenomenon, known as "echo quits" or an "echo boom in quits," has accompanied the Great Resignation. Like quiet quitting, it's compelling employers to rethink the way they operate.
Of course, leaving one job for another isn't a guarantee of a good match. These days, workers aren't inclined to stay put and will keep seeking greener pastures, even within a year of taking the job. Going back to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for August 2022, 2.7% of the workforce quit. During the same period job openings plummeted by about 10% (to 10.1 million, down from 11.2 million in July 2022). The biggest drops occurred in health care and social sciences, other services and retail trade, in that order. The drop in job openings wasn't entirely unexpected, because as the quit rate rises, job openings typically increase.
In recent months, workers have had more leverage than employers had and to some extent, still do. If employees quit and don't like the first job they take, they can simply leave and find another one. In a tight job market, employers who need to fill positions don't have the luxury of holding job-hopping against otherwise good candidates. However, if job openings continue to decrease, that balance of power might shift.
Echo quits have also led to another trend called "boomeranging." As the name implies, workers are returning to the employer they initially left, without any hard feelings on the company's part. In fact, boomeranging often results in a hefty salary boost and other concessions.
What about employers who don't have workers boomeranging back to them? It may be time to explore other ways to hold onto good workers.
There are numerous ways an employer can limit the mass departure of employees. Here are seven practical suggestions.
However you choose to address the tendency of workers to leave jobs these days, don't just focus on your existing staff. The ideas you employ to keep good staff can also be part of your recruitment campaign for new hires.
It's a new world of work, and to some extent, employees have been in the driver's seat. The ideas above are just a starting point; there are many other ways to help keep good workers on board and attract new ones in any labor market. The main thing is to be proactive. Don't wait for quiet quitting or echo quits to disrupt your operation. Make your moves first.
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