‘The Big Quit’: Why Mid-Sized Company Leaders Are Concerned with the Ballooning Talent Shortage

By: | January 7, 2022

Lucas Prahl is Senior Vice President, Property & Casualty, at QBE North America. He can be reached at riskletters@theinstitutes,org.

The Great Resignation, also known as The Big Quit, is one of 2021’s greatest challenges for companies of all sizes.

In September 2021 alone, 4.4 million employees quit their jobs, up from 3.3 million in September 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the hot labor market, employees are leaving for better jobs or bowing out of the workforce for a variety of factors, many related to the pandemic. This trend is especially troubling for mid-sized company leaders, a group that a new survey from QBE revealed already had a lot to worry about when it comes to their employees.

In QBE’s annual survey conducted in partnership with the Association for Corporate Growth, mid-sized company leaders were asked about their biggest concerns, and the underlying micro risks to better understand their challenges.

More than half of the top five micro risks related to concerns about employees.

Employers are concerned about how to attract and retain talent, how to keep employees healthy and safe, how to pay for the rising costs of employee benefits, and how to combat internal bias and a lack of a diversity framework. They are also concerned about heightened risks of fraud and cybersecurity with so many employees currently working from home.

Here is a deeper dive into the top five employee-related micro risks middle market leaders are worrying about:

1) Fraud and Theft

The temptation for both internal and external actors to commit fraud tends to rise during times of economic stress.

Employers may be even more concerned than usual about internal employees, because so many are working from home, where they have greater opportunity to act discreetly.

These factors could explain why fraud/theft ranked as the top concern for financial risk.

2) Working from Home Cybersecurity

When asked about specific risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic, mid-sized company executives ranked cybersecurity due to remote/hybrid work arrangements at the top — over other risks such as employee safety and supply chain problems.

This concern about remote work may have also contributed to cyberattacks in general being ranked as the top digital risk and top micro risk overall in the survey.

3) Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Many workers who lost their jobs during the height of the pandemic have retired early or are hesitant about going back to work due to lingering health concerns. Others may be having difficulty securing reliable childcare.

Businesses will continue to struggle with this issue for the foreseeable future, especially with developments regarding vaccine mandates for companies.

4) Accidents/Health Issues/Workers’ Compensation

In the category of liability risks for companies, this area came out on top. With the growth of remote work, a fast-emerging concern is the long-term health and safety of people working at home.

Household accidents have risen sharply: In 2020, 28% of all U.S. households reported a home injury compared to half that rate in 2017. Additionally, with the current labor shortage affecting industries across the board, those who do go to their workplace encounter risks when they must do more than usual or take on tasks for which they are not properly trained.

5) Diversity and Inclusion

Internal bias and lack of a diversity framework was also listed among the top organizational concerns for mid-sized businesses.

Companies and regulators alike are more focused on diversity and inclusion. As an increasing number of companies reevaluate their own policies and practices, this will likely remain an important priority for business leaders to pursue.

Looking Ahead

With people leaving their jobs at a rapid rate, employers need to look closely at how to keep their employees happy and how to mitigate the risks that most concern them, especially since pandemic risks are here to stay.

It’s of utmost importance for mid-sized companies to work with insurance brokers and companies that have developed industry-specific expertise and strong customer engagement programs for the loss/risk control teams. &

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