Why family friendly workplaces are the answer to the ‘Great Resignation’

Since the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, there has been a concerning and significant increase in the number of working parents resigning from their jobs or reducing paid hours and it’s a wake up call for employers.

A recent study by McKinsey & Co looking into attrition rates across 5 countries, Australia, Canada, Singapore the United Kingdom and the United States, found forty percent of employees to be at least likely to quit their jobs in the next three to six months, with eighteen percent saying their intentions range from likely to almost certain.

According to the same research ‘more than 19 million US workers – and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021’, a record pace that is disrupting businesses everywhere. The researchers suggest that Employers who think employee attrition is easing have it wrong, in fact, the impact Covid has had on working families, along with Generation X entering the workplace with a call for greater family friendly related entitlements shows the opposite.

To confirm this ‘fifty-three percent of the employers said that they are experiencing greater voluntary turnover than they had in previous years, and 64 percent expect the problem to continue—or worsen—over the next six months’.

The fact is, employees everywhere are re-evaluating their work and care needs and looking to reduce their work life conflict. If employers do not respond, it may mean it is not so easy to replace lost talent.


“If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that employees crave investment in the human aspects of work. Employees are tired, and many are grieving. They want a renewed and revised sense of purpose in their work. They want social and interpersonal connections with their colleagues and managers. They want to feel a sense of shared identity. Yes, they want pay, benefits, and perks, but more than that they want to feel valued by their organizations and managers. They want meaningful—though not necessarily in-person—interactions, not just transactions.” (2) ~ Extract, McKinsey & Co.


Interaction V’s transactions is where it’s at for both employers and employees and this is where family friendly workplaces comes in.

No longer are employees married to their jobs. Instead, they are calling for greater flexibility, understanding, transparency and care from their employers. This means the days of employer box ticking days are over and it’s time to enter the real world of business.

‘Many companies have addressed the attrition problem with blunt instruments, including pay raises and extra paid time off. While money and time off are always welcome, more precise tools are needed. McKinsey research throughout the pandemic has shown that the best companies listen closely to their employees and craft responses tailored to their needs. In the case of parents, even more than other groups, this means focusing on work–life balance and health while treating remote work and schedule flexibility—formerly viewed as perks—as table stakes.’ (1) ~ Extract, McKinsey & Co.

And there’s more…

‘Our research shows that the problems that all employees are grappling with—not feeling valued by their organization or manager, not feeling a sense of belonging, and not having a good work–life balance—affect parents and non parents alike. However, there are key factors contributing to why parents are leaving that are distinct from non parents. Of more than 20 possible reasons given for leaving their job in the past six months, parents cited caring for family as a top five reason.’ (1) ~ Extract, McKinsey & Co. Read more

Clearly there has never been a more important time in history to make our workplaces family friendly. To walk the talk and have our employees feel supported in every way, from the start of their journey as parents via parental leave, to caring for young children and teens, disabled persons or parents who can no longer care for themselves. Every stage matters and a family friendly workplace is one whose policies reflect that.

Family Friendly Workplaces support organisations by helping them meet and surpass the National Work + Family Standards. They do this by working closely with organisations to set up personal Action Plans to further embed family friendly policies and practices into the heart of their business.

To find out more about how you can become a certified Family Inclusive Workplace and attract and retain great talent into the future whilst supporting your people, take the readiness survey here, or get in touch with the team at info@familyfriendlyworkplaces.com.

Take the Family Family Workplace Readiness Survey 

Read the full research from McKinsey & Co here 


(1) McKinsey & Company; Married to the job no more: Craving flexibility, parents are quitting to get itDecember 3rd 2021.

(2) McKinsey & Company; ‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The Choice is yours, September 8th, 2021