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75 Percent of Departing Employees Are Disgruntled

Not only are record numbers of people leaving their jobs, but former employees are more disgruntled than ever, according to research from the Corporate Executive Board and featured in the Wall Street Journal Online.

The Corporate Executive Board, a research and advisory firm, compiled information from more than 4,300 exit interviews from 80 companies. They compared them to the results of similar exit interviews in 2008.

  • In 2008, as the recession was beginning, 42 percent of people who had recently left their jobs said they would not recommend their former employer-about the same percentage as 2006.
  • Those who are leaving their jobs now are a whole lot madder. In 2011, more than three-quarters of those who had recently quit said they would not recommend their former employer.
That represents a big problem for corporate America, where companies often rely on 'alumni' to help fill open positions. It also suggests that the two million people who voluntarily left their jobs in May may not have done so because they suddenly believed the economy was getting better. Instead, they may simply have been fed up with their employer, had stuck around as long as they could stand it, and finally left.

In the Wall Street Journal article, Brian Kropp, a managing director with the Corporate Executive Board, is quoted as saying:

Companies were blunt and rough and tumble with their workforce [during the downturn]. They created a sense that the company doesn't care about me.
It's the best employees who are leaving
Another Corporate Executive Board survey suggests that it could be the high-potential employees who are the most disgruntled, which is especially worrisome for companies that care about leadership.
  • In 2008, about one in ten "high-potential" employees planned to change jobs in the next 12 months.
  • In June of this year, one-quarter of high-potential employees said they planned to change jobs within the next twelve months.
With unemployment high, it's easy to say that companies can be cavalier with their employees-even those who are supposedly the most talented. But losing a high-potential employee can cost a company 3 ½ times that person's annual salary, according to the Corporate Executive Board. That factors in not just the cost of finding a new hire, but of smoothing over business relationships that may be ruffled by the departure and lost revenue that may accompany a high-profile opening.

With unemployment high, how hard should companies try to retain people-even their best people?


Image courtesy of flickr user sergis blog
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at
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