Even your boss wants to quit

The big quit is creeping into the office around the corner, with 70% of C-level executives telling Deloitte pollsters they could seriously quit for a job that better supports their well-being.

Why is this important: If the boss who makes the rules feels exhausted, it’s no surprise that many rank-and-file members are also wayward.

  • 57% of employees surveyed in the Deloitte survey said they had enough to quit too.

Driving the news: A report released today by Deloitte and market research firm Workplace Intelligence found that senior managers feel as tired and depressed as the workers who report to them. In a poll conducted in February…

  • 76% of superiors said the pandemic had a negative impact on their overall health.
  • 81% said improving their own balance is more important than advancing their career right now.

Some executives are pushing for change. 83% said they would expand their company’s wellness benefits over the next 1-2 years, while 77% said companies should be required to publicly publish “wellness indicators” of the work force”.

They were asked if they had taken action to help employees relax, 20% of C-suiters said they banned after-hours emails and 35% said they required employees to take breaks during the day.

  • 35% send notes urging employees to take time off and log off — and 29% say they try to set an example by doing it themselves.

Yes, but: There is a big disconnect between how superiors perceive their efforts and what workers say.

  • 84% of C-suite executives said they thought their employees were thriving mentally – but only 59% of employees rated their own mental health as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ “.
  • 91% of bosses said they saw themselves as caring leaders – but only 56% of workers thought their bosses cared about their well-being.

“What we found is that the majority [of C-suite executives] want to do something about it, but they just haven’t done anything,” Dan Schawbel, the founder of Workplace Intelligence, told Axios. “So there’s been more talk and less action.”

  • The answer isn’t just to add more mental health benefits, but to reassess everything about how the workplace works, including childcare and remote work options, Schawbel said.

Between the lines: Deloitte’s findings ring true for executive recruiters. “What we’re seeing is people quitting to try and find a better place, a better work-life balance, a better culture,” Shawn Cole, founder of Cowen Partners, told Axios. “It’s the ‘big shakeup,’ as we see it.”

  • Female executives have been particularly hard hit by job overload during the pandemic, and a disproportionate number are looking for work – or retiring.
  • A recent LinkedIn survey found that mid-level executives and managers want a four-day workweek even more than their reports.

But the “C-suite is an island” where company feel-good policies — like unplugging and ignoring email — don’t necessarily apply, Cole said.

  • “To some extent, that’s what they get paid for,” he noted.
  • “They really need to set boundaries” to stay happy and focused, Cole said.
  • Finding a new job isn’t always the answer: “The grass isn’t greener,” especially for a CEO.

And after: The burnout of the aftermath could potentially translate to more informed workplace benefits and policies — or not, as an economic downturn puts more focus on results.

Methodology: The Deloitte survey, conducted by email from February 8 to 21, involved 1,050 senior executives in the US, UK, Canada and Australia and an equal number of employees. Respondents received “a small monetary incentive” for their participation.


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