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Fighting the Great Resignation means giving your non-office worker more than just a raise

July 7, 2022, 6:06 PM UTC
An employee wearing a protective masks assists a customer at the checkout counter at a Kohl's department store.
About 75% to 80% of the workforce consists of employees who don’t work in an office and never had the option of working remotely, according to BCG.
Dustin Chambers—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Despite more and more warning signs of a recession, the Great Resignation keeps charging onward. Even with increased inflation impacting the cost of living, workers keep handing in their two weeks’ notice. But it’s not just salary that’s driving employees out the door.

A Boston Consulting Group global study of more than 7,000 deskless workers, or employees who operate in a non-office setting, found that as many as 37% were looking to quit within the next six months.

The Great Resignation has often been viewed through the lens of white-collar workers who resist going into the office and job hop for higher salaries. Yet, about 75% to 80% of the workforce consists of employees who don’t work in an office to do their jobs and never had the option of working remotely, according to BCG. 

This group of deskless workers, employed in sectors like health care, construction, or retail, are not typically afforded the flexibility that has become key for some during the Great Resignation. The main thing on these workers’ minds when leaving was what’s best for their future careers. 

Around 41% of desk workers reported that a lack of advancement opportunity was the top reason they would consider quitting. Pay remained important (at 30%), as did flexibility (28%), but also factoring in was a lack of work-life balance (22%) and simply not finding their role enjoyable (15%).

Across all seven nations surveyed (Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.), the youngest deskless employees were on average more likely to leave their jobs than their older peers. A little under half of Gen Z workers (48%) were at risk of quitting their jobs in the next six months, which was double the number of baby boomers (at 24%).

This past April, 4.4 million workers left their jobs. And there are more resignations likely to come, as many are sitting on plans of quitting. About one in five workers across industries reported that they were extremely or very likely going to leave their jobs in 2022, according to a separate survey, Global Workforce Hopes and Fears, conducted by PwC in March.

Pay certainly mattered to those surveyed, listed as the most important factor in making a change in where respondents worked. And though fair compensation was extremely or very important (at 71%), a myriad of other factors played a role. 

Feeling valued made a difference: Many respondents listed the importance of job fulfillment (69%), being one’s true self in the workplace (66%), and feeling like their team respected their well-being (60%).

Across sectors that use desks and don’t, salary is not enough to keep workers on board. People want to feel valued, have flexibility, and simply find their work enjoyable. And for deskless workers, the real prize is seeing a better career ahead.

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