September 24, 2022

KPMG’s ‘Do As We Say Not As We Do’ Tips to Prevent Employee Turnover

a guy in business dress carrying his stuff out of the office in a cardboard box

KPMG has some sponsored content in Harvard Business Review about how to keep employees from defecting (defecting? Really? It’s a job, not the Sandinistas) and in it, the firm offers some suggestions to encourage employee loyalty. Suggestions that they themselves would be wise to implement should KPMG want to hang on to their own people (there may or may not be a mass exodus underway at KPMG, according to Going Concern archives this has been going on at least since we were founded in 2009).

With the U.S. turnover rate projected to jump nearly 20% in 2022 over the pre-pandemic average, according to Gartner, and 31% of American workers actively thinking about or looking to leave their organization, according to KPMG, companies that don’t adapt risk losing their employees to the competition.

While financial reward is still a top priority, employees are thinking more holistically about their experience at work and which benefits they prioritize. This experience is giving rise to a more reflective workforce that thinks about what’s important in their work and personal lives and the correlation between them.

I like how they say this as if it wasn’t until Millennials came along that anyone expected to have work-life balance. Strap in, Gen Z, this is about to be your fault. Actually, they’re already recycling the articles they wrote 20 years ago about us and replacing “Millennials” with “Gen Z” now that Millennials are turning 40. “Gen Zers want it all – and are willing to work hard for the right employer. But if the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, they’ll leave and find other ways to make ends meet.” Uh yeah, and why shouldn’t they?

The HBR piece goes on to mention remote work and how because of it, it’s harder than ever to separate work from home. Of course, this was also the case prior to the pandemic for people at Big 4 firms, just that they didn’t sign off until 11 p.m. at the office instead of home. At least back then you got dinner and an Uber paid for by the firm.

The demands that have led American workers to focus on work-life balance have led to more incorporation of work in the flow of life. More people are working when, where, and how it is optimal for them rather than feeling constrained by the 9-to-5 tradition.

According to KPMG, 36% of American workers say the inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance is the number two reason—after the top reason, a noncompetitive financial package—that would make them want to leave their organization.

Well duh. Why do they even need a survey for this?

With greater work-life balance comes greater work-life harmony. Organizations have a growing recognition that workers will sometimes lean into their careers and at other times need to put more energy into their lives outside the workplace. There’s new awareness that work needs to integrate seamlessly into the bigger picture of life.

With that, employees are expecting employers to see them as whole humans, not just workers. More organizations need to recognize that factors such as health, well-being, and caring responsibilities all influence employees’ ability to bring the best version of themselves to the workplace.

Again DUH. How is this even something that employers need to be told in 2022? Big 4 culture is literally killing people so it’s beyond time for a discussion about firms seeing people as “whole humans.”

And what happens to organizations that don’t get on board with the crazy idea that people have lives outside of work, expect to be paid fairly, and shouldn’t be worked so hard that they have actual mental breakdowns? Their people leave. As they should. Life is way too short to work 20 hour days because your directors have made poor planning on their part an emergency on yours.

With employees aware of and increasingly vocal about what they want, their employers need to deliver on these benefits and opportunities. If they fail to deliver, their employees will look elsewhere to find them. Many organizations are indeed falling short; about a third of American workers have their eyes on greener pastures.

Just a third?

If you want more groundbreaking insight, check out KPMG’s 2022 American worker survey report. And if anyone needs help writing farewell emails you know who to call.

Looking for more: Employee expectations are on the rise [KPMG]

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1 Comment

  1. KPMG’s philosophy is simple. Rather than trying to hold onto talent, they do layoffs instead. This way they don’t have to try to hold that special person.

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