In November 2021, a record 4.5 million U.S. workers quit their jobs. With a vast number of people leaving the workforce, employers have been left wondering how they've failed to retain talent.
A recent report from employment and background screening services company GoodHire points to managers as a key factor. In the survey of 3,000 workers, 82% told GoodHire they would consider quitting their job because of a bad manager.
How managers impact employee retention
This isn't the first survey to ask how managers are contributing to mass resignation. In a November survey from nonprofit think tank Coqual, workers pointed to manager behavior as a main cause of workplace inequity and employee turnover.
In the GoodHire report, the majority of respondents report being unhappy with certain aspects of the manager-employee relationship, including how often they meet with their managers (63%) and how much their managers communicate virtually or digitally (62%).
Across all industries, respondents say the qualities they most dislike are micromanagement and the expectation of productivity outside of work hours. But what do employees want instead? Many say they seek qualities that their current managers lack: honesty and authenticity.
Here's what people report:
- 32% believe their manager cares about employee career progression
- 39% say their manager is open and honest about opportunities for promotion
- 44% say their manager is open and honest during conversations about salary and compensation
Despite that, the vast majority (70%) say they either "strongly or somewhat enjoy" working with their current managers. Among the happiest with their managers were people who work in hospitality (80%); in contrast, those who were least satisfied work in real estate (55%) and legal professions (56%).
Remote work makes the relationship even more complicated
Many job seekers report that they're prioritizing remote work opportunities, and even say they would move to a new city or take a pay cut to find remote work. But as more companies report their efforts to accommodate remote employees, the transition to out-of-office arrangements might have a downside.
The GoodHire survey shows workers reporting that remote work presents new challenges for their relationships with managers:
- 22% say their managers definitely trust that they’ll be productive and hard-working during their regular hours while working remotely
- 46% say their managers respect the personal time away they take from work after working hours
Still, in the transition to a mostly remote workforce, it's important to note that managers are impacted, too. Just before the quit number hit its record high in November, managers reported some of the largest declines in mental health scores compared to other groups in a LifeWorks survey conducted the previous month. They also reported in that survey being nearly twice as likely as others to have developed physical health problems since the onset of the pandemic.
Methodology: The GoodHire survey was conducted online via Pollfish from Dec. 4 to Dec. 9, 2021. The survey included 3,000 U.S. workers with full-time positions across 10 industries: health care, software, real estate, hospitality, legal, education, finance & insurance, human resources, marketing & sales and science & tech.