What If The Great Resignation Isn’t?

in business, Data, Featured, Uncategorized

There’s endless talk in HR circles about the Great Resignation. A report by McKinsey & Company, for example, sounds the alarm because “more than 15 million US workers—and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021, a record pace disrupting businesses everywhere.”

The McKinsey report is fascinating for its survey findings comparing why employees say they leave to why employers believe they leave, with some stark distinctions.

But the report, and just about all of the endless accounts about an employee exodus, falls short by failing to provide context for the so-called exodus. Specifically, they ignore the fact that quit rates plummeted in the Spring of 2020. McKinsey blares, “The Great Attrition is happening—and will probably continue.”

But is it? And will it?

Here’s a graph of quit rates — number of quits as a percent of total employment — from 2011 through July of 2021 (The blue line is turnover; the dotted line is a trend line for the entire period.):

Quit Rates 2011-2021

US Quit Rates (and trend) as % of total employment, 2011-through July 2021.

Pent-Up Attrition?

“Quits are voluntary separations initiated by the employee,” BLS explains. “Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs.”

It sure looks like the current rate of resignation is fairly close to trend. In fact, the quit rate for July 2021 was unchanged from the previous month, and the last three months were all lower than April 2021. The data suggests that some of what’s being called The Great Resignation is actually pent-up attrition. We may — may — just be on the tail end of a dip.

When we hear “15 million workers have quit their jobs since April 2021,” we should question whether April 2021 is the proper baseline. This shouldn’t diminish some of the dynamics currently taking place in the labor force, but at least suggests that it may be quite a while before we really know — based on data — what those dynamics are.

Good Work: Getting Real About Job Characteristics, Job Design, and Job Crafting at “Impairment Without Disability” 2021

in industrial organizational psychology, job crafting, job design, Uncategorized, Wellbeing
Impairment Without Disability logo

I’m honored to be among the distinguished slate of speakers presenting at Impairment Without Disability 2021, where I’ll discuss the science behind “Designing Jobs People Want To Do.”

IWD 2021 promises “No fluff, no fodder.” YES! We need more conference hosts that respect our work — and the employees we serve — enough not to waste our time with celebrities, motivational speakers, athletes, and new-age wonks who have no idea what we do. Those speakers may give attendees a lift during the hour of their presentation, but the growth that comes from information, case studies, and idea-sharing can last a lifetime and facilitate results that spread exponentially.

If you’re interested in supporting the wellbeing of sick or injured workers, join us at this year’s all-virtual IWD Conference 2021, November 18. Register here.

Check out conference organizer Jason Parker’s LinkedIn post, below, for more info.

There’s Mental Health in Them Thar Workers

in Uncategorized, Wellbeing, Workplace Mental Health Resources

woman with gold face

In the red-hot employee mental health industry, two of the reddest, hottest companies — Ginger and Headspace — announced their merger. As reported by Stat:

The new company, called Headspace Health, will have a reported value of $3 billion, placing it in the top echelon of companies vying to own significant chunks of the mental health market….Headspace, which sells directly to consumers as well as to businesses, is focused on self-directed meditation and mindfulness…Ginger also offers self-guided treatment in addition to text-based coaching and video-based therapy and psychiatry.

Oliver Harrison, CEO of digital mental health competitor Koa Health, magnanimously blogged that the merger represents “a tremendous moment signaling the growing market demand, innovation and transformation for digital mental health and wellbeing.”

This might be true, but we might also conclude that this is a moment in which two unrelenting enterprises join forces to, as Stat said, “own chunks of the market.”

Innovation? Later in the post, Harrison quotes HR expert Josh Bersin:

“Bigger companies with thousands of customers try to innovate, but the demands of their large, existing customers distract their engineering teams and they can rarely innovate like they did when they were small.”

A colleague recently described employee mental health as a modern day gold rush, with money gushing into it from exuberant employers — clawing for precious solutions, while surrounded by barkers hawking unauthenticated replicas — and venture capitalist prospectors jumping aboard the gravy train.

Tremendous Moment? Or Wild West?

Headspace and Ginger are joining hands as they stake their claim in the mental health landscape. Good for them. We can only hope it also turns out to be good for care seekers, employers, and mental health in general.

In other news, in-person therapy is now available at Walmart. Find it somewhere between the ammo, tobacco products, and baby strollers.


“Gold face” image courtesy John Vasilopoulos via Pixabay.com, https://pixabay.com/users/sjv_john-9645453/