Adapted from Mike Gore (16 October 2021) by Ettean Smit, SmartPractice Director | 26 October 2021

According to a recent report by McKinsey & Company, 40% of all workers in the formal economy in the United States of America (USA) are considering leaving their current job. In August alone, over 5 million people left their jobs voluntarily in the US, many without having another job lined up. The accounting practices we deal with on a daily basis tell us they are struggling to employ and keep enough knowledgeable people. And it is just getting worse.

Practitioners who misread these signs do so at their own risk.


The simple answer is: Corporate culture has broken or, at the very least, deteriorated. People feel devalued, discounted, and disconnected. They are longing for something better. Several things (we usually default to) that were not mentioned as reasons for leaving were money, opportunity and benefits.


What’s happening with corporate culture is just a reflection of what has happened in our broader culture. Every human being needs to be part of something bigger, to contribute, to be valued and cared for as part of a family. We have historically met these needs in many settings, work being one.

"The breakdown of civility in the broader culture means there are fewer and fewer places where people can connect and experience an authentic sense of contributing and belonging."

The result is, people are desperate and they are voting with their feet and leaving companies in droves to find a place where they feel valued and cared for.


Genuine leaders have an uncanny ability to read the signs and act decisively. This is a moment in history unlike any we have ever seen. The threat has never been more real, nor has the opportunity ever been so great.
The data suggest the average leader has a blind spot on this issue. In fact, when leaders were asked why they think people are leaving, their list of reasons was the opposite of the actual reasons people are leaving. That means most leaders will NOT be addressing the problem because they are blind to the real problem. Exceptional leaders who capitalize on this moment to build an extraordinary culture have a unique opportunity to use culture to create a sustainable competitive advantage—a great culture will stand out now more than ever—it is a talent magnet during trying times.


This is the question every leader must answer. It is often said that our circumstances reveal our character. This is one of those moments where real leaders will be revealed by their response to the current circumstances. What we need is action. Action requires clarity, conviction, and, above all else, courage. Rise to the challenge. If you and your leadership team are not 100% aligned with your culture strategy and how you are going to get there, huddle up with your team and gain clarity. Then act.

Be courageous and do something.

The full McKinsey Study can be found here.


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