Whether you call it “The Great Resignation,” or “The Great Reshuffle,” one thing is clear – employers can expect to see continued turnover in their staff.

The recently-released Microsoft Work Index, a global survey of more than 31,000 employees, concluded that the workforce remains in transition. The question of whether people prefer hybrid or remote work isn’t settled, as the report found that 57% of employees working remotely are likely to shift to hybrid working, while half of hybrid workers (51%) expressed a desire to change to fully remote work.

This desire for different working arrangements is fueling an increase in the percentage of employees planning to switch jobs this year. Yes, you read that correctly. Increase. 

2022 “Great Resignation” statistics

According to the Microsoft study, In 2020, 17% of employees left their jobs, and that trend reached 18% in 2021. The departures are likely to continue as 43% of employees are somewhat or extremely likely to consider changing jobs in the coming year, up year-over-year from 41%. In the US, 44% of workers say they are likely to change jobs this year, according to research by Willis Towers Watson.

In the UK, the majority of 6,000 workers – 69% to be exact – said they feel confident about their ability to move to a new job within the next several months. Those numbers track with findings from LinkedIn that 67% (or 22MM) people in the UK are considering a new job.

Wages, disengagement, and changing priorities motivate job searches

Remote and flexible working are not the only factors spurring continued employee turnover. We’re continuing to see peoples’ priorities shift dramatically when it comes to what they expect from their jobs, and why they are deciding to seek new opportunities. Additionally, a closer look at the data reveals some less-obvious forces that are motivating employees to leave.

  • Wages

It should be no surprise that the competitive job market and rising wages are providing powerful incentives to look for new opportunities. In the previously-mentioned Willis Towers Watson survey, more than half of respondents said that increased pay is a top reason they’d look at new employers. However, as you will see, there’s more to this story than pay increases.

  • Disengagement 

Significantly, a surprising number – 41% – said they would leave for a 5% increase in pay, which suggests two things: employees are feeling the brunt of inflation and will act if their wages are stagnant, or they’re disengaged. Previous research found it takes more than a 20% wage increase to motivate an engaged employee to consider a new job, while for unengaged employees, that number falls to nothing. Employees willing to leave for a 5% pay increase are more likely to be disengaged.

This is noteworthy for employers, as the cost of replacing those people is rising – the current estimates are anywhere between 50% and 200% of the departing employee’s salary, depending upon their role. 

  • Other new priorities 

Interestingly, the Willis Towers Watson study also found that people are placing a higher value on other elements, such as flexible work arrangements, work-life balance, job security, and other benefits relating to healthcare and retirement. In fact, 20% of the employees surveyed said they would take a new job for the same pay to meet their new priorities.

The Microsoft Work Index offers a related angle, noting that employees have a new “worth it” equation, described as meaning “what people want from work and what they’re willing to give in return.” Noteworthy findings from the Work Index study include:

    • 47% of respondents said they are more likely to put family and personal life over work than they were before the pandemic,
    • 53% of respondents – particularly parents (55%) and women (56%)— said they’re now more likely to prioritize their health and wellbeing over their work than they were previously,
    • 52% of Gen Z and Millennials are likely to consider changing employers this year, up 3 percentage points year-over-year, driven in large part by their personal priorities.

Belonging, purpose, and culture are important factors

As one reads the raft of recent research about workers’ priorities and their expectations of their employers, it’s clear that the changes we observed in 2020 have accelerated. At that time, the pandemic was driving a shift toward belonging and wellbeing. Nearly two years on from that moment, it’s clear that the elements of work people value most have continued to evolve, and include considerations beyond remote and hybrid working.

The Microsoft work index identified five aspects of work that, beyond pay, were considered “very important” for an employer to provide:

  • Positive culture (46% of respondents),
  • Mental health/wellbeing benefits (42% of responses),
  • A sense of purpose/meaning (40% of respondents),
  • Flexible work hours (38%.)

​​“Employers can help retain staff by making sure that they feel valued by their manager, that they foster a sense of belonging, and ensure people have a sense of advancement within the organisation. Research demonstrates that employees value these much higher than employers realise,” says Victoria Short, CEO of recruiting firm Randstad UK.

Getting to the truth of how your employees stand

Another thing we learned during the pandemic was the degree to which leadership generally got it wrong when making assumptions about what employees wanted, due in large part to the aforementioned rapid changes in peoples’ priorities as the pandemic wore on. Study after study highlighted the gulf between executives and their teams, underscoring the need for leaders to cast aside their assumptions and make a point of gathering feedback and getting to their organisations’ truths.

These disconnects also explain why retention bonuses or last-minute pay rises aren’t effective in retaining employees who have given notice of their intentions to leave. In many cases, money isn’t the issue.

To retain people, look at why they stay 

This is why concentrating on the factors that compel people to stay with an organisation can be incredibly effective. Assessing your own organisation’s stay factors can be both gratifying and revealing: you’ll learn what your employees value most about your workplace, but you’ll also identify opportunities to make meaningful improvements.

As an organisation strengthens its stay factors, a variety of good things happen. Retention improves, along with morale, performance, and overall employee engagement. The real beauty of this process is its sustainability. Unlike a retention bonus, efforts to improve the organisations’ stay factors improve the workplace and employee experience for everyone. Continuing to manage and improve those factors will enable the organisation to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

Free eBook: The Workplace People Don’t Want to Leave 

To learn more about the factors that motivate people to stay with their employer, as well as tactics leaders can employ to strengthen the stay factors within their organisation, read our free eBook, “The Workplace People Don’t Want to Leave.” In it, you will find a detailed discussion of:

  • The 10 ‘stay factors’ that motivate people to stay in their jobs,
  • 4 tactics for creating the workplace people don’t want to leave,
  • How to conduct ‘stay interviews’,

Additionally, a bonus section provides more than 30 insightful stay interview questions you can use to create high-value conversations within your organisation and gather invaluable feedback from top performers that can help you retain your stars (and attract more of them to your organisation.

Download your free copy here.