Number of the Day: skyrocketing turnover

The Great Resignation—and the many pseudonyms it has inspired—has been a near-universal worry for HR leaders in recent months. And new research highlights just how widespread turnover troubles are.

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According to a report released last week by i4cp and Fortune, 76% of organizations surveyed that employ more than 1,000 people have seen their attrition numbers jump in the last year. About 14% reported no change in staffing levels, while only 6% said attrition decreased.

The global study of nearly 1,200 employees, about half of whom represent large employers, pointed to a number of turnover trends: For instance, attrition was most common among Generation Z employees, women and those with fewer than three years of tenure at the company. And organizations are worried: More than 70% of respondents said that a lack of talent is the biggest business threat they’re facing this year.

What it means for HR leaders

To contend with the retention troubles, talent acquisition budgets are ballooning. In particular, i4cp and Fortune found, high-performing organizations are more likely to have increased or significantly increased their TA budgets in the last year than low-performing organizations (67% vs. 39%). A majority of high performers are also boosting funding for the overall HR function, HR technology, total rewards, DE&I and talent development.

That aligns with what they say are the most important elements of their respective employee value propositions for talent attraction and retention: flexibility, DE&I and purpose.

Despite 49% of respondents saying flexibility is their top strategy to compete for talent this year—and recent i4cp research showing that the more flexible an organization is with how its employees work, the lower their attrition rates are—few are going the full mile on flexibility. According to the study, 54% offer workers “some choice” in where they work, compared to 36% that offer “considerable choice.” Likewise, 67% say their workforce has “some choice” in when they work, but only 20% say workers have “considerable choice.”

To avoid a mismatch between what employees are looking for and what the employer is delivering, HR leaders need to do the legwork of uncovering employee sentiment—and then pivot strategy to ensure they’re meeting those expectations, says Dr. Katheryn Brekken, senior research analyst at i4cp.

See also: Here are 4 ways to retain your best employees

“What many employers offer isn’t in alignment with the expectations of the 2022 workforce, which increasingly wants choice and autonomy about where, when and how they work,” she says. “Employers that are intractable in their unwillingness to try new ways of approaching work will continue to struggle with talent attraction.”

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Creating policies around flexibility is just a start. Leadership development—specifically focused on learning how to lead in today’s changed environment—is another lens through which HR should be looking at delivering what employees want.

“The skills and capabilities required to successfully lead teams have evolved, and regardless of work model (on-site/remote/hybrid), leaders must be developing new muscle,” Brekken says. “We’re talking about a whole new set of nuanced skills, such as empathy, active listening, inclusiveness, bias awareness and all-things communication—these are more important than ever.”

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at