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Voluntary employee turnover is likely to jump nearly 20% this year, from a prepandemic average of 31.9 million employees quitting their jobs a year to 37.4 million quitting in 2022, according to research from Gartner, Inc.

“New employee expectations, and the availability of hybrid arrangements, will continue to fuel the rise in attrition,” said Piers Hudson, senior director of research in the Gartner HR practice.

“An individual organization with a turnover rate of 20% before the pandemic could face a turnover rate as high as 24% in 2022 and the years to come. For example, a workforce of 25,000 employees would need to prepare for an additional 1,000 voluntary departures.”

As employees seek to take advantage of new hybrid work arrangements, Gartner research shows they are confronting two issues: misalignment with leaders and achieving the flexibility they desire.

A November Gartner survey of over 3,500 employees revealed less than half believe remote working is destigmatized at their organizations, while 70% believe on-site workers are more likely to be promoted and paid more than remote workers.

This preferential tone employees perceive toward on-site workers is directly at odds with executives’ own working preferences: 94% of executives whose work can be done remotely want to work remotely at least one day per week, and 24% of those executives want to be fully remote.

Yet 68% of employees whose work could be done remotely report that their employers have required them to return to the workplace in some capacity.

To bridge this gap, HR leaders must first support executives and managers in understanding the value of hybrid work for employees at all levels. Second, HR leaders should lead the effort at shifting their organization’s culture to recognize hybrid work as an essential piece of the employee experience.

The pandemic has caused nearly seven in 10 employees to rethink the role of work in their lives. Many people desire a more flexible schedule – across location, working hours and days worked – that accommodates their personal needs.

The November 2021 Gartner survey revealed 52% of employees report that flexible work policies will impact whether they stay at their organizations. In fact, 16% of employees are willing to quit their current job if required to work fully on-site, and 8% said they would quit if required to work even partially on-site.

To attract and retain talent today, organizations must abandon office-centric work design and shift to a human-centric work design where work revolves around what is best for employees — completing work to the highest standard and accommodating their personal lives. Progressive leaders are putting employee well-being at the forefront of their talent management strategies, enacting policies that prevent burnout while enabling employees to flourish both professionally and personally.

“Leaders’ efforts to restore the organization’s ‘normal’ – prepandemic – way of working are clashing with a workforce that has largely normalized working in a hybrid environment,” said Hudson. “Organizations must look forward, not backward, and design a postpandemic employee experience that meets employees’ changing expectations and leverages the advantages of hybrid work.”