The mere plan to hand over one’s resignation letter has become a common joke. Whether one pushes through with plans to quit their jobs or not, there is truth behind such joke. And in today’s business environment plagued by the great war for talent, statements like this are cause for concern not just for people management and Human Resources (HR) leaders, but also for all employees who share the massive responsibility of promoting employee engagement and talent retention within their organizations.

Speaking of truths, here is a tough truth to handle. A Gallup study revealed that nearly 50% of the working population in the U.S. is on the hunt for a new job, with businesses seeing a higher number of employees actually quitting their jobs. What is more interesting is that workers across all job categories are looking for new work opportunities at the same rate.  The figures are worrisome, with experts calling this phenomenon “The Great Reshuffle”.

But why do employees quit? It is not just because of pay issues nor employees hating what they do. The real cause is more workplace related. A 2022 McKinsey survey highlighted that one of the top reasons employees resign is because of their bosses.  Having “bad managers” drive staff away. Not a good thing to hear when you are the boss your colleagues try to avoid, but not all is lost. There are options that leaders can undertake to help their company address high attrition rates.

Implement people engagement

The same survey shows that when employees are interested and highly engaged in their work, they are more productive than their peers who show signs of disengagement at work. The solution seems simple at best –get staff more engaged in their job. But for this suggestion to work, managers must realize that the role of a leader extends beyond the completion of deliverables and proper delegation of work. An effective leader knows the importance of people engagement and the plethora of benefits it provides.

In our previous article, we emphasized that a toxic workplace is much more detrimental than we realize. For one, a toxic work culture contributes to stress buildup and work burnout, the latter considered as an occupational phenomenon by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which is caused by severe workplace stress that is not adequately addressed.

Beware of “quiet quitting”

Another tough truth: quiet quitting is real. In its research, Gallup defined “quiet quitters” as those employees who do not aspire to achieve more, those who do not bother to go above and beyond in their duties, or those who are perfectly content to complete just what their job description covers, nothing more and nothing less.  This phenomenon is disconcerting, considering that in this day and age, effective collaboration and leadership styles require an innovative and go-beyond mindset.

To solve this, HR teams should be adept in implementing new policies to prevent employee disengagement and burnout. One strategy could be as straightforward as mandating a regular manager-coachee session which will be helpful for managers in checking with each member of his or her team.

Find new ways to attract, retain talent

Does it seem simple enough? Think again. As changes to workplace arrangements are implemented, traditional approaches in talent acquisition and retention may no longer be as effective as before.

Look at the whole talent retention process as a classic push and pull between employer and employee. On one end, staff can be demotivated by factors including toxic work culture. To be able to tug and pull, and make staff stay, employers should be knowledgeable about demotivators as much as factors that motivate. Lessen demotivators by replacing them with engaging corporate acts – be it a higher pay, promotion, or similar people engagement initiatives.

The next time you hear a joke about an employee planning to resign, do not take it as lightly. A myriad of factors makes employees quit their job, and it is not just HR officers who are responsible for finding ways to make staff stay. Ensuring the effective implementation of people engagement measures is the duty of every employee, managers and new hires alike.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 18 January 2023