Research Finds Engaging Managers Is Vital to Employee Retention and Workforce Health

  • With Job Quits at an All-Time High, Actalent Offers Insights Into Spiraling Effects of the Great Resignation and Breaking the Cycle of Scarcity

Actalent, a leading engineering and sciences services and talent solutions company, has released the second whitepaper in its three-part series on understanding and overcoming the talent drought. “The Manager Meltdown” provides a framework for understanding the spiraling effects of The Great Resignation on performance, productivity and retention ,Workforce Health on all employees, particularly on managers, that has resulted in a vicious and deepening cycle of scarcity in the U.S. labor market.

The total number of voluntary job quits over a 12-month period ending in November 2021 reached a staggering 46.5 million. Coupled with low labor participation rates and record-high job postings, there are simply not enough people to fill the open positions. In October 2021, openings in engineering and sciences were six times greater than the number of available talent.

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“STEM fields have suffered from talent scarcity for several decades, but that has been exacerbated by the pandemic due to rapid advancements in technology across every sector and an accelerated rate of return, the democratization of work and the proliferation of choice when it comes to how to earn a living,” said John Flanigan, vice president of operations at Actalent. “We wanted to get to the bottom of exactly who is quitting and why in order to provide the valuable insights that business leaders need to build a healthier, more sustainable workforce. Everything we’ve uncovered so far is telling us that talent has more options than ever before and will continue to leave if not treated with care. One finding revealed that 72 percent of U.S. tech employees are thinking of quitting their jobs within the next 12 months. The people affected the most by these record-high quit rates are those in manager roles. And that’s a big problem.”

Key takeaways from the paper include:

  • There is a talent drought in engineering and sciences, which means it’s even more difficult for businesses to find and retain employees with critical skill sets.
  • The people expected to maneuver companies through the talent shortage are the same people who are quitting (mid-career employees aged 30 to 45).
  • For every open position, there is 1/7 of an available worker to fill it.

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“With fewer people to bear the workload, increasingly more pressure and responsibilities are put on the shoulders of managers, making them extremely susceptible to work fatigue and burnout,” continued Flanigan. “Because of this, the easier decision for most people is to leave their job, continuing the vicious cycle of scarcity that affects every level of the workforce.”

Actalent recently conducted a survey of engineers to understand what factors they considered most important to their satisfaction and engagement, and how well their current employers perform in delivering these factors. The results found that managers are the linchpin to a successful employee experience. In fact, eight of the 10 factors uncovered are manager-driven, meaning that managers are expected to keep employees engaged, which is the key to increasing performance, productivity and retention.

“The fact remains that businesses cannot afford to lose employees right now, but for employees to stay and feel engaged with their work, they will need to feel supported by their managers,” added Flanigan. “Businesses need to prioritize empowering managers because when leaders have license to create individualized engagement for their employees based on the factors most important to each individual, the cycle breaks—scarcity can’t survive where engagement exists.”

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