One in 4 workers plans to quit post-pandemic

Burnout is compounding the issue. So what can employers do to stave off the 'talent tsunami?'
By: | February 25, 2021 • 2 min read

A staggering one in four employees plans to leave their employer after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, according to a new survey. That number is even higher for millennials and employees with children at home in remote learning situations, with one in three planning to jump ship once the pandemic is over.

Prior to last March, when the pandemic triggered an economic shutdown and massive layoffs, employers were experiencing high rates of employees job switching. But since then, quit rates reached their lowest level in nine years as most employees stayed in survival mode. Now, many industries can expect a resurgence of turnover as employees likely will feel they can make job moves they have put off for the past year, according to the survey from Eagle Hill Consulting.

“Company leaders are still knee-deep dealing with the pandemic, but they have to look ahead to fend off a talent tsunami,” says Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Now that vaccinations are underway, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for employees. We all are feeling a sense that work will return to some sense of normalcy and the economy will rebound. And that means employees again will feel confident looking elsewhere for a job.”

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Burnout experienced by workers is one big reason for an expected spike in resignations. Previous research from Eagle Hill Consulting found that a majority of employees are burnt out (58%), up from 45% in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the reasons for burnout include heavy workloads during the pandemic, balancing work and personal lives and a lack of communication, feedback and support from their employer.

Other research has painted an even more dire picture on burnout: A December study of 1,136 employed U.S. adults from benefits provider Spring Health finds that a staggering 76% of employees are currently experiencing worker burnout—which researchers say includes symptoms like exhaustion, feeling negative, cynical or detached from work, and reduced work performance.

Related: Huffington: ‘Dealing with stress is no longer just a box to check’

“Company leaders are still knee-deep dealing with the pandemic, but they have to look ahead to fend off a talent tsunami.” – Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting

COVID-19 has also triggered other factors that are pushing workers out the door. Other research has predicted a mass exodus of female workers as many women have struggled balancing both being primary caregivers of their households and working during the pandemic. Meanwhile, though some employers have embraced benefits, resources and flexibility during the pandemic, many organizations were slow to act or did not make enough changes to help workers through the most tumultuous time of their lives.

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To help reduce expected turnover, Eagle Hill Consulting says employers need to focus on creating a supportive work environment by conducting employee surveys, encouraging “open door” exchanges and providing career counseling and mentorship opportunities. Upskilling and reskilling workers and embracing flexibility, remote work options and mental health offerings are also helpful strategies, experts say.

“Companies need to think differently and strategically about how they’re going to hold onto their top talent,” Jezior says. “Otherwise, it will be even more difficult for a business to bounce forward in a post-pandemic economy.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.