The case for attrition


Why are good people quitting even when jobs are scarce and times are difficult?

I will share observations, comments, and ideas through the leadership trainings I have conducted with clients from different industries.

“Francis, we have had good people in our company just resign even without the prospect of another job.” While many expressed the need to take care of their family, others do not even know why they want to quit,” a couple of HR people told me.

Employees today are stressed, tired, anxious, and many are grieving. Business owners cannot fix what they do not understand, much less when good people quit without understanding why.

1. Back-to-office-policy

“When this pandemic crisis business is over, when we reach herd immunity, and everybody gets vaccinated; can I work from home or will I be required to report back to the office and be tethered to my workplace?” This is a silent question running in the minds of many.

There was a time when we experimented with the reopening of the economy. Foot traffic in malls increased, and so did traffic along EDSA. Big bosses in some companies demanded their people report back for work to their physical offices. In some cases, attrition increased because a heavy-handed back-to-office policy mandated by the powers from on high backfired. What was not considered is that employees, though vaccinated, still fear that when they go home, they might bring the virus to the unvaccinated members of their family. When such a  decision is mandated without including employees in the consultation process in shaping the planning of solutions. (i.e., hybrid, two-three-three or three-two-two models, or special consideration for families with elderlies that are not yet vaccinated), then no amount of encouragement from Town Hall meetings about how “the company cares for the people” will ever fly.

2. Transactional bosses

Bosses cannot solve the problem, especially if they are the problem. A Mckinsey report came up with a recent study that says something that I have suspected and observed happening even in many of our companies. Look at the gap between what and how business owners and employees think.

When asked why their people quit, they cited compensation, work-life balance, and poor physical and emotional health. These issues did matter to employees–just not as much as employers thought they did.

By contrast, the top three factors’ employees cited as reasons for quitting were:

They didn’t feel valued by their managers.

They did not feel valued by their organization.

They didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work.

Employees were far more likely to prioritize relational factors, whereas employers usually focus on transactional ones. When people express their intention to quit, bosses oftentimes only convince them to stay by offering to raise their compensation. What happens is that the bosses are unwittingly telling everyone that the relationship is purely transactional and the only reason for people to stay is the paycheck. That may not be a good thing. The common-sense reality is that good people can always get better and a higher pay working somewhere else. Good leaders address the problems of the whole person and the entire organization, and not just the money aspect.

3. Toxic bosses

While I understand the demands placed on the shoulders of the bosses, in terms of business survival or reaching business targets, is heavy; the untrained bosses pass on their unreasonable and insensitive demands to their people. Those endless Zoom meetings have converted their people into “Zoombies,” pressing on deliverables more than expressing empathy and care for their people’s condition, and using harsh and brash language, exerting their “authority” to get things done.

My goodness, do you still wonder why good people quit? Because they can no longer stand their bosses and they feel like the pay and the perks are not worthy of the “suffering” they have to endure in the hands of untrained leaders.

4. Inspiring leaders

Amazingly, leaders who inspire, encourage, and show empathy are important reasons good people choose to stay. They know that their leaders have their back and will not throw them under the bus.

The good news is that companies now realize the need to develop their leaders to update and upgrade their leadership skills, provide opportunities for training, a development that leads to a better career path. It has been said that “People are the lifeblood of any business.” I agree, and effective leaders with good leadership skills keep it pumping.



(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class Online will run from Oct.13 to 15. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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