The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 16, 2022 1:00 am

Study: 2022 may bring exodus of leaders

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

If you're wondering more about what 2022 could bring, here are a few cautions:

• Expect an exodus of leaders – and women will be the first out the door.

• People will demand better physical and digital workspaces.

• A lack of progress on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, or DEIB, initiatives won't be tolerated.

• A lack of well-being is a countdown to disaster.

The above are the four trends Qualtrics highlights in a 2022 Employee Experience Trends report. It was based on feedback from nearly 14,000 full-time employees from 27 countries. Qualtrics, with headquarters in both Seattle and in Provo, Utah, uses software systems to help improve employee engagement.

The challenges human resources, technology and team leaders face this year are not unlike those of the past, but the landscape has changed, the report said. That includes greater awareness about mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic and embracing diversity after widespread demonstrations in 2020 about injustices.

Factors contributing to the leadership exodus include the exhausting work, while critical, of providing employees emotional and technological support in “an ocean of uncertainty,” the report said.

For 2021, 70% of male leaders expressed intent to stay with their employer while 67% did for 2022. Among senior male leaders, 81% indicated plans to stay for 2021 but for this year it was 72%.

Among female leaders, 71% expressed intent to stay for 2021 while just 63% did for this year, the report said. Among senior female leaders, for 2021 the report said 86% intended to stay but that dropped to 68% for 2022.

One suggestion in the report is to work with leaders to understand what kind of support they need rather than “piling on more pressure.” They should know work is collaborative, that “you're hearing their concerns and will take action to help,” said Tara Belliard, one of the report's authors.

On the workspace front: The report said hybrid work is here to stay and organizations need to create “world-class digital experiences” that enable both in-person and digital collaboration. Only 30% of respondents said their experience with their company's technology exceeds or greatly exceeds their expectations.

On the diversity front: The report said 70% of employees indicate their organization have made sufficient progress towards greater inclusion. Slightly less, 67%, say their senior leadership's actions show they are genuinely committed to building a diverse and inclusive company.

On the well-being front: The report notes the start and end of the day for many employees, especially those working remotely, has been extended. The lack of boundaries means well-being and resilience have suffered. And 61% of those who won't take a sick day cite a heavy workload as the reason.

“We know well-being and resilience have a huge impact on mental health, engagement, and productivity,” the report said. “Unfortunately, many organizations are choosing to address burnout (and attrition) with superfluous benefits (i.e. a mental health app or a week off) rather than doing the hard work at the root of the problem – a toxic culture that rewards workplace martyrdom over self-care (and self-awareness).”


Work to do.

Qualtrics used the feedback from workers to craft a letter to organizations, which ends by saying:

“We can't go back to the old ways of doing things – we won't go back. We are already living in the new normal; we need to start working there, too.

Yours (for now),

Your employees.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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