Employee Quit Rate is Up: What to Do About It

employee quit rate

Up until now, employers had but one statistic to keep them up at night: the unemployment rate (4 percent, for anyone keeping score).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just added a new one: people are quitting. A lot.

Word from the Wall Street Journal is that employees are leaving jobs faster than at any at time in almost the last 20 years.

"Job-hopping is happening across industries," wrote the WSJ, "including retail, food service and construction, a sign of broad-based labor-market dynamism."

The quit rate is a sibling to two other big pieces of HR news:

Payrolls aren't growing so fast

The old story was not enough jobs. The new story is not enough people. "Business' number one problem is finding qualified workers." Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi told CNBC in a statement. Check the news: lack of truckers is threatening commerce; nursing shortages are among the worst they've ever been. "At the current pace of job growth," says Moody's, "this problem is set to get much worse. These labor shortages will only intensify across all industries and company sizes."

Which leads us to:

Benefits are growing really fast

Employers are going to have to entice workers. And they are - with traditional perks and more. Some of the biggest winners are education benefits. Many hospitals are responding to the nursing shortage by training their own. One grocery store is paying for even part-time people to go to school. Another company made news for its $100-million investment in employee development. Why all the interest? Because, says NPR, employees are asking for it. "These new job perks are just a few signs of the hot and competitive labor market," wrote NPR's Charlotte Norsworthy. "The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in decades. That means companies from restaurants to engineering firms are being forced to find new and creative ways to lure workers."

The quit rate reflects a ramping trend. At this year's WorldatWork, our own Patrick Donovan talked to clients grappling with local unemployment as low as a staggering 2 percent. There was wide agreement that developing the right skills would be easier than hiring for them - meaning education can be much more than an employee perk."

Aetna has seen a 27-percent faster promotion rate among employee tuition assistance program participants, and an 8 percent retention gain," wrote Patrick. "What would an 8 percent retention gain mean to your business?"

In the current talent market, it would mean a lot.

"America has a talent crunch," SHRM's Steven Lindner told NPR. "There's not a single employer, large or small, that I come in contact with that's not struggling to find qualified candidates."
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Written by: Jonathan Corke

About the Author

Jonathan Corke at Bright Horizons

As Senior Director, Product Marketing, Jonathan has spent the last decade working at the intersection of strategic HR and enterprise technology. He has learned a great deal about converting a talent management strategy into an operating plan through direct conversations with HR leaders and numerous industry surveys. These experiences have sparked a fascination with how leading employers create a better environment for their workforce, and how that environment drives consistent business performance. Jonathan holds an MBA from Clark University.