You’ve heard of quiet quitting and the Great Resignation, but there’s another rising concern that companies should be aware of. A recent Workforce Institute at UKG survey found that 40% of C-suite executives plan on quitting next year.
Even more interesting is that the ones who plan to leave aren’t baby boomers nearing retirement. They’re their younger counterparts, still far away from the golden years of their career.
Obtaining a C-level role is many people’s dream. Executive positions come with more responsibility but also mean a higher paycheck, stock options, and other benefits. So, what’s making them want to leave?
Often, business leaders and top executives leave their positions due to:
Here’s how each of these factors can drive leaders away from C-suites.
Most executives who plan to leave their roles in the next year feel that their jobs are much too stressful. That’s understandable. In the last years alone, they’ve dealt with a global pandemic, shifts to remote work (and back again), and considerable economic uncertainty.
Executives aren’t immune to stress and mental health concerns. If anything, they’re more susceptible to them. After all:
People can deal with intense stress for long periods, but everyone has a breaking point. Executives who have reached theirs are ready to pass the leadership baton to someone else who is willing to do the job.
Another factor driving executives to rethink their careers is a lack of purpose in their jobs. While they’re making decisions for their company, they’re not deriving any meaning or joy from doing so.
Executives who don’t find their job to be meaningful are unlikely to contribute new ideas or improve critical processes. Essentially, they’re just coasting. They’re waiting for another opportunity to appear that they feel more excited about.
Once an executive no longer finds meaning in their role, it’s hard to reattract their attention. And that lack of interest can spell trouble for employee morale within the company. Other team members will feel their disinterest, and it will spread like the common cold.
Executives are a hard-working lot. Many put in time well beyond the standard 40-hour work week. They’ll work in the evenings and on weekends — all in an effort to meet company objectives and expand the business.
While some executives are quite comfortable with this arrangement, younger ones aren’t as likely to feel the same. According to the UKG survey, the executives most likely to quit in the next twelve months are millennials and Generation Z workers.
Younger executives are more likely to have young families and children. Working seventy and eighty hours each week means they’re missing out on important milestones, like family vacations and their children’s school activities.
Those losses can take a toll on any executive, no matter how driven they are to succeed.
Sadly, nearly half of the executives in the UKG survey said they wouldn’t recommend their company, nor their profession, to their children or other young people. That’s concerning, as the next generation will be the ones to run major companies. If the glimmering sheen of executive roles is no longer attractive, finding competent workers who can handle the position will be challenging.
Despite these feelings, most executives say:
The other half of executives don’t feel quite the same way. A third are committed to their roles, which means they’ll put additional effort into their work when required. And just over 10% are content. They’ve established acceptable boundaries between work and personal life, and they won’t do anything extra unless there’s a specific reason.
Keeping executives tuned into the company’s needs is critical for all stakeholders, including employees, board members, clients, and investors. If the executive stops believing in the company’s mission — or worse, checks out — it can have disastrous consequences.
To begin fixing executive disengagement, you must first understand the reasons behind it. There are a few steps that organizations can proactively take to keep their executives focused in their roles.
Executives are typically ambitious individuals. They don’t earn their roles by doing the bare minimum; instead, they’re high achievers, often from a young age.
Companies that provide an executive with objectives to work toward are more likely to retain them. The more critical the goal is, the more likely they are to find meaning in their work.
Every company has different objectives. An older, more established organization may seek to retain its strong market foothold against competitors. In contrast, a start-up might have limited time to build a customer base before running out of funding.
Executives should always know what they’re working toward and have a supportive team to help them reach their goals. When those elements are in place, they are more likely to feel content in their roles.
The drive to succeed can be all-encompassing, especially when there are deadlines that need to be met and stakeholders to please. However, no person can continuously work 80-hour weeks without eventually burning out.
We all need time to recharge. For some, this could mean taking a ten-day vacation, while for others, it could involve disconnecting from emails once the day ends.
Organizations that emphasize the value of work-life balance are more likely to hold onto their executives rather than lose them. That’s especially true for younger executives with families and children. When an executive sees that stakeholders don’t expect them to work until midnight every night, they’re more likely to enjoy their role and stay in it.
The turmoil of the past few years has severely affected everyone, including executives. Faced with a barrage of challenges that their predecessors never encountered, they’re rightfully tired, and some are ready to quit.
Stakeholders should take notice. It’s imperative that they provide their executive team members with the resources and support needed to remain valuable contributors in the years to come.
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