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Scary Employee Retention Stats 2021

The costumes have been put away. The haunted houses have closed. Attention has shifted from watching horror movies to watching for Black Friday deals.

Halloween has ended, but there’s still much to fear.

Since 2013, our firm has celebrated Halloween with its Scary Stats campaign, reporting on the scariest workforce stats of the year. This year was no exception — but this year we’re not in a rush to turn our attention elsewhere.

Why? Because the frightening fact is, in the eight years since we started publishing Scary Stats, there’s been no improvement. And this year, scary stats took on a whole new meaning when a record-breaking 4.3 million people quit their jobs within a 30-day time span, and 10.4 million job openings remained unfilled.

Even before we started publishing Scary Stats, we knew this moment was coming. In the year 2000, Gallup reported employee disengagement hit an all-time high. Companies started throwing money at research and perks and created new office spaces in an attempt to improve employee engagement, yet the stat remained unchanged.

For 21 years, we raised a restless, unhappy workforce. Now, our creation is a full-fledged adult. And like a negligent parent, we’re reflecting on the last two decades with awe and regret, wondering what we created and kicking ourselves for not paying closer attention.

These two stats help to tell the story behind the making of this frightful mess commonly referred to as the Great Resignation:

  1. The difference between executive and median employee pay continues to increase. CEOs now make 299 times more than the average worker. In 1965, executive pay was 24 times worker pay. In 2017, it was 275 times.

  2. Flexibility emerged as a workplace value when Millennials started entering the workforce in 2000. Consistently, 92% of this generation has said they expect employers to provide flexible work environments. In 2021, Deloitte reported 82% of companies now see flexible work arrangements as critical to employee retention, but only 47% actually provide flexibility.

These stats indicate a growing disparity between what executives want, need, and expect and what median employees and younger generations want, need, and expect. This disparity is the root cause of employee disengagement, turnover, and decline.

Even if you don’t have the power to influence pay structures and workplace benefits, you can do your part to continually ask yourself:

  1. Am I mindful of where the gaps in our workforce exist?

  2. Am I attentive to the needs of others?

  3. Do I treat everyone in the organization with equality and fairness?

And you can also urge others to pay attention to the trends, asking leaders:

  1. Are we being responsive to the needs of our entire workforce – or only certain segments of it?

  2. Are we thinking a generation ahead, or a generation behind?

  3. If it’s the latter, how long can our organization realistically sustain in this mode?

There is a solution to this frightful mess we’re in and it begins, quite simply, with making WORK work for everyone.

Scary as it may be, we have to face the facts and ask THE tough questions. All of us. All the time.

If you are ready to discuss the future of your organization, let’s have a conversation.


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