American Executives Report Higher Turnover and More Unfilled Roles Over the Last Six Months

American Executives Report Higher Turnover and More Unfilled Roles Over the Last Six Months

Employees who have stayed with their employers during the Great Resignation have misgivings about their decision
female employee leaving office after resignation

As employees leave their organizations for better opportunities amid the pandemic-era "Great Resignation," business leaders and the workers who are left behind struggle to deal with the repercussions.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a professional membership association, revealed in its latest report that 49% of American executives are seeing much higher turnover than usual in their organization within the past six months.

The vast majority of executives surveyed by SHRM also noted open positions within their company during that time (93%), and reported that open roles are going unfilled for much longer than they did pre-pandemic (84%).

Survey reveals disconnect between workers and business leaders on employee experience

A different survey conducted by found that 15% of U.S. workers have plans to quit their job before the year is over. And according to SHRM's research, another 41% are actively searching or planning to search for a new job opportunity in the coming months.

"Employees are leaving their jobs to pursue new opportunities in record numbers, making hiring and retaining talent a significant challenge for employers across the country," Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"It’s a candidate’s market and organizations must respond by recognizing the need to think differently in how to recruit and retain talent, revisiting benefits and flexible work schedules, along with broadening the talent pool for open positions."

However, the survey shows a disconnect between what executives think employees want in order to stay in their current role and what employees actually want. For instance, the top three reasons why employee respondents are looking for a new role are:

  • Better compensation (53%)
  • Better work-life balance (42%)
  • Better benefits (36%)

Meanwhile, executive respondents think job seekers are looking for:

  • Better benefits (28%)
  • Better career advancement opportunities (28%)
  • Less pandemic-related workplace issues (26%)

This inability for companies to meet employee needs is despite workers' willingness to share honest feedback with business leaders, as a recent survey from Explorance showed that nearly half of all employees believe their feedback doesn't lead to meaningful change within the company.

The 'Great Resignation' leaves impact on employees who have stayed behind

Of course, for all of the employees that have already left their company or plan to do so, there are many more who have stayed behind. Many have reservations about their decision, though. In addition to the 52% who've had to take on more work and responsibilities in their colleagues' absence, others:

  • Wonder if their pay is high enough (55%)
  • Struggle to get necessary work done (30%)
  • Feel more lonely or isolated (28%)
  • Feel less loyalty to their organization (27%)

Perhaps in an attempt to address these concerns, companies have placed more focus on improving benefits for current employees and new recruits alike. For instance, over half of business leaders (58%) are now offering higher starting salaries and wages compared to last year, also taking into account the typical yearly pay increases.

Additionally, HR professionals at companies with higher-than-normal turnover in the past six months say their organization has begun offering new or additional remote or flexible work options to reduce turnover (42%), increasing employee referral bonuses (32%) and adding new or additional merit increases for workers (28%).

Methodology: SHRM conducted four different surveys for this report:

  • A survey of 200 executives — those who work as a paid employee for an organization with 50 or more employees, hold a vice president role or higher and supervise at least one employee — conducted between July 2-8, 2021, using a third-party online panel
  • A survey of 1,150 U.S. employees conducted between July 2-8, 2021, using a third-party online panel
  • A survey of 1,187 currently employed HR professionals conducted between July 6-21, 2021, through SHRM's membership
  • A survey of 1,034 currently employed HR professionals conducted between Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2021, through SHRM's membership