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Letter to Leaders

The Big Quit

"What I did this summer, this spring, this winter, last fall, the previous summer..."

4.8 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in August.



People are leaving for no reason at all. Or they're leaving for more pay. Or they're leaving for more happiness. But mostly we’re seeing that most people leave because they want a change.

The easiest antidote to burnout is a change of scenery. And people are doing it without regard to their career—a real sign of burnout.

We have a banking client—a good employer. About 5% of their workforce has quit in 2021—and left the banking industry altogether.

But it’s not limited to banks. Or restaurants. Or CPA firms. Every single industry is having a major problem hiring and retaining staff. In fact, the #1 issue for each of our clients is staffing. (We have more than 250 business clients and they include every industry in North America).

Here’s another (bad) subset of this crisis. My long-time Director of Client Services calls it “The Zero F’s” problem. Many people who are still working for you are giving exactly zero F’s about their work. They’ve got other problems and stresses that take priority. And most of them remain at your business to collect their check and benefits. They’re going through the motions. (FYI—if you don’t know what “F” stands for, please e-mail Jamie Baker

I wish I could tell you that Page 84 of the Workforce Strategist’s Handbook prescribes the solution. But there's no panacea. None of us has ever seen anything like this.

This issue is going to be omnipresent for several more years at least. There might be a fix here and there, but there’s no “one size fits all” solution.

But there's one leadership concept that might help improve burnout. Several new studies show having a clear sense of purpose can increase engagement levels. This is true for both individual employee and employer.

We’ve seen this effect in our practice. We have a client that’s a medical services provider. Their nurses love what they do—they see the results of their efforts when a healed patient goes home.

The nurses aren't thrilled with their pay, but their sense of purpose is strong and that keeps them in the game).

Same thing with our private schools. Whatever else teachers complain about (and boy do they complain) - they love to teach.

For our leadership workshops this month, that’s our focus: identifying your purpose. Then examining how purpose can get you and those around you to refocus. And reduce the burnout that most of us continue to experience.

And take a small step forward.


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