The Great Resignation and talent scarcity have become such prominent buzzwords in the world of work rhetoric that it can be hard to associate them with real-life metrics. Based on responses from 34,200 workers across 25 countries, the Adecco Group's Global Workforce of the Future report dives into the facts and figures behind talent - how to attract it, but perhaps most importantly, how to keep it.

The past few years have seen no shortage of debate, speculation and analysis of the Great Resignation and its implications for talent retention, the future of work and the broader economy. This has led to many fascinating insights into the various reasons that may push or pull someone towards a change in employment. What has been less often discussed, however, is the effect that a resignation can have on the people who stay behind. 


Meet the #quitfluencer: an employee who leaves their job and, by doing so, encourages other to follow suit. This isn't necessarily the result of conscious actions; it can be an involuntary side-effect of their resignation. However, the sheer scale of the Great Resignation raises an important question: how much can be attributed to the quitfluencer phenomenon?


What does quitfluence look like?


At first glance, the numbers paint a worrying picture. Over a quarter of workers (27%) are looking to change jobs in the next 12 months and 45% of those are actively applying or already interviewing for other jobs. Clearly, talent retention is still a pressing issue within the world of work. What is more worrying, however, is the fact that 50% of workers who have seen others quit have taken action and left their job. 70% of workers who have seen others quit have then considered quitting themselves. This is the same for desk-based and non-desk workers. 

So do these quitfluencers trigger some sort of psychological response? In psychology, behavioral contagion refers to the spread of a certain behavior through a social group due to exposure to that behavior by its members. The prevalent example of behavioral contagion is yawning, which can even be observed across species.


Most dogs who see a human yawn will yawn themselves and the same applies to non-human primates. The jury is still out on why this happens - is it mere mimicry, maybe a subconscious 'chameleon effect'? One theory making the rounds in this discussion is that behavioral contagion taps into our innate ability for empathy


While human empathy is still being researched and debated, what has emerged from the discussion is people's ability to mirror the feelings of others or make decisions based on the situation of others. The Emotional Contagion Scale is a 15-index tool designed to measure the likelihood that an individual will mimic five basic emotions: sadness, fear, anger, happiness and love. Not everyone has the same propensity or reaction to the emotions of others, and the metrics may change depending on the environment each individual finds themselves in. But there is no doubt about it, humans can 'catch feelings'. 


Ready for the plunge


This human empathy lies at the core of the issue. There are many facets to consider when weighing up a job change - salary, work/life balance, engagement, job satisfaction, and many more. But what if some workers had already done the maths, made up their mind and just needed the final push of instinctual empathy to make the jump themselves? What if the logical, rational part of the equation was already taken care of?


As it turns out, that scenario might not be all that far-fetched. According to the Adecco Group's report, the majority of workers around the world - a staggering 61% - are confident they could find a new job in 6 months. In addition, 72% of workers feel like their current job is safe. In other words, talent is scarce and the talent knows it - it's a candidate's market.

Can we counter-balance quitfluence?


Salary is still the main 'push' factor that motivates people to seek a change in employment, but that is when workers don't feel engaged. When workers do feel engaged, however, salary drops down to 6th in the list of considerations. The Global Workforce of the Future report reveals that, overwhelmingly, what makes workers want to stay in their job is how happy they are, how stable they are at work and at home, their colleagues and the flexibility they are afforded.


In fact, the data shows that relationships with colleagues, a sense of job security and trust from managers all contribute to high job satisfaction (for both desk and non-desk workers). On the other hand, workload, ability to maintain mental and physical wellbeing, career progression and upskilling can be pain points for many. Only 54% of workers are satisfied with the career prospects and with their company benefits. What is also interesting is that only 57% of workers are satisfied with their employer's position on major societal issues.


The Adecco Group's former CEO, Alain Dehaze, has spoken before about the importance of corporate empathy in minimising turnover and talent drain. So, to come back to the point of contagious behavior stemming from empathy, it looks like there is a case to be made for fighting empathy with empathy.


To register for our 2022 Global Workforce of the Future webinar, click here.


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