Workplace Trends

As “Quits” Plateau, Develop a Strategy to Re-engage Workers

By James Greenway on April 13, 2012

The “quits” rate – or the measure of an employee’s ability to voluntarily change jobs – inched up slightly to 1.6% in February, relatively unchanged from the 1.5% registered for the past five consecutive months. Source: BLS

Any industry-specific increases in quits from January 2012 to February 2012 were slight: Manufacturing quits grew from 97,000 (.8%) in January 2012 to 101,000 (.8%) month over; education and health services quits increased from 282,000 (1.4%) to 295,000 (1.5%); leisure and hospitality quits increased from 398,000 (2.9%) to 436,000 (3.2%); and professional and business services from 352,000 (2.0%) to 373,000 (2.1%).

The number of quits reached 2.1 million in February 2012 from 1.8 million at the end of the recession in June 2009, but still remained below the 2.9 million recorded at the beginning of the recession in December 2007.

Over the past three years, employees have been reporting growing dissatisfaction in their current jobs and expressing strong interest in pursuing new opportunities. But the “quits” rate shows most aren’t taking action. Re-engaging those workers who want to leave and those who “quit and stay” – fully 50% of the workforce – should be a call-to-action for leaders. Creating a culture of engagement takes planning and work, but here are some simple steps a leader can take right now:

Set employees up for success. Set clear goals and expectations so that employees know what’s important and how their roles contribute to the larger picture.  Make sure they have the resources, information and support they need to be successful.

Create meaningful career paths. Employees want to know they have a future with the organization. Invest time in helping employees identify career paths that align their goals and aspirations with the needs of the organization. Engage them regularly in career discussions that include coaching and constructive feedback. Then provide them opportunities to develop the skills needed to achieve individual and organization goals.

Recognize efforts. Acknowledge successes, share the accolades and reward employees who achieve important goals with new challenges and opportunities to develop and shine in the organization.

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