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Quick Quitting: A New Trend Among Deskless Workers?

Companies worldwide are facing challenges in terms of labor shortages. Amidst that, many industries and companies depending on non-desk workers risk losing many deskless workers. But why are deskless employees considering quitting their jobs? BCG recently conducted a study to understand the reasons.

Organizations worldwide are currently facing several challenges, one of the primary ones being severe labor shortages. In certain industries, like restaurants, shopping centers, hospitals, and transportation that rely much on deskless employees, the latter are in higher demand, especially post-pandemic. According to a survey by The Harris Poll, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, 67% of the blue-collar workforce feels more respected post-pandemic and even more in demand. Yet, many organizations risk losing a significant number of deskless employees.

So, what are the primary reasons for deskless employees considering quitting? Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recently conducted a study to find the reasons. The following are the major findings from the study and a few steps employers can take to retain deskless employees.

See more: How to Leverage Mobile Technology To Engage Deskless Workforce Effectively

Pay Is Not the Primary Reason for Considering Quitting

It may seem obvious that pay is a primary factor determining whether a non-desk worker will stay with a company. In fact, when asked, deskless employees say that the salary or compensation is an aspect that matters most to them. However, the study showed that when these employees think of quitting, the primary drivers are emotional factors. In fact, about 80% of the factors that motivate non-desk workers to leave involve emotional needs more than functional ones.

Feeling fairly treated and respected, doing meaningful and enjoyable work, feeling appreciated and valued, employer performance and reputation, and having good relations with the boss or manager were at the top of the list. Further, emotional factors are not the only ones that matter to non-desk employees. Among the top ten considerations contributing to a worker’s decision to quit are the work environment, career development opportunities, and the organization’s reputation and performance.

Gen Z Workers Are the Most Eager To Look for a Job Change

The study found that Gen Z employees are the most eager among all the generations to look for a job change. About 63% of the deskless employees between 18-24 reported feeling burnt out at work. About 55% were either actively looking for a new job or would consider changing jobs if a suitable opportunity came along. Compared to older generations, only 30% of non-desk workers aged 55 and above said they were job hunting, and 38% of non-desk employees between 45-54 said so.

Many Deskless Workers Are “Quick Quitting”

A trend known as quick quitting is surfacing among deskless workers. Quick quitting occurs when a worker leaves a job within a few months of joining the organization. The study showed that the trend is more prevalent among non-desk workers who spent the least time in their jobs. Among non-desk workers, 52% of those with less than 12 months were either actively or passively looking for a change.

Attitudes Change by Industry and Geography

The feelings of employees about burnout and leaving their jobs vary depending on their industry and location. For example, the U.K. has the largest percentage of non-desk workers who report being open to new opportunities (49%). This includes 8% of people actively looking and 41% passively looking for a change.

In Germany, 43% of non-desk employees are looking for a different job, with 5% actively and 38% passively looking for a change. In the U.S., 6% are actively looking for a job change, while 37% are passively looking for a change. The situation seemed to be the least volatile in France, with 4% actively and 33% casually looking for a job change.

When it comes to industry, during the pandemic’s peak, the public sector and healthcare were among the few industries experiencing the least layoffs or reduced work schedules, according to another report by BCG. Nurses, teachers, and other non-desk workers in these sectors continued their work, usually under highly-challenging conditions. This may be why a disproportionate number of deskless workers felt burned out and were ready to leave. In the healthcare industry, about 41% of non-desk workers are actively or passively looking for a change. In the education sector, 36% were passively looking, and 4% were actively looking for a change. A few other industries at a high risk of losing deskless employees are transportation and warehousing, retail, and manufacturing.

See more: 4 Ways to Improve the Deskless Workforce Experience

What Companies Should Do

When non-desk workers leave, companies lose more than the time and money required to replace them. If enough top talent leaves for better opportunities, companies are left without the quality and quantity of talent required to carry out strategic plans. Hence, employers should take certain steps to retain non-desk workers.

Identify what workers want

The study shows that non-desk workers want the basics of a good job overall. This includes an acceptable work-life balance, competitive compensation, and emotional benefits, such as feeling valued and a positive relationship with the manager. What employees from individual organizations, however, may vary. The only way to know what they want is to ask. Use focus groups, pulse surveys, and one-on-one conversations, and use those insights to meet the needs of these employees.

Develop great managers

It is said that people leave their managers rather than the organization itself. Managers are the ones who become the glue that connects people to the organization. According to the study, non-desk workers dissatisfied with their managers are 50% more likely to feel burned out and twice as likely to quit. Hence, companies must invest in developing their managers to deliver a great employee experience. They can identify top-performing managers, identify how they work, use them as mentors for their peers, and incorporate better ways of working. Learning and development, too, play a critical role in developing great managers.

Improve the employee experience

Companies must genuinely invest in making the workplace better for non-desk employees. They should invest in technology, learning and development, and other enablers to support deskless workers. Investing does not end here. If younger employees intend to leave or employees are inclined toward quick quitting, companies should invest in improving the hiring and onboarding experience as well as career planning. This helps people feel more connected and engaged with the company.

Make Work Engaging for Non-desk Employees

Companies should look beyond what non-desk workers report as important to identify factors that can retain them. By identifying the difference between what people say and do, forward-thinking companies can restructure their strategies, policies, and work to provide non-desk workers the support they need. Companies should take time to understand the true needs of non-desk employees, develop great managers, and work with their employees to scale the best practices and make work better.

What steps have you taken to retain deskless workers in your organization? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Image source: Shutterstock


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