UK Mass ‘Boss Loss’: Unmanageable Workloads and Insufficient Pay Prompting Exodus of Senior Talent in Business

UK Mass ‘Boss Loss’: Unmanageable Workloads and Insufficient Pay Prompting Exodus of Senior Talent in Business
  • KellyOCG 2022 Global Workforce Report – Re:work finds over two-thirds (72%) of senior business leaders plan to leave their employer within the next two years

  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) say their workload is unmanageable, while just over a third (34%) think they are receiving fair remuneration for their contributions

  • Report also suggests over a third (35%) of businesses have definitive plans for return-to-work post-pandemic

  • Companies are also continuing to pay lip-service to DEI according to half of business leaders globally and in the UK (48%)

Tuesday 10th May 2022, London: A significant majority of decision-makers at some of the world’s biggest companies are expecting to leave their employer within the next two years, according to the findings of a new report from KellyOCG, the global outsourcing and consulting business of Kelly.

The KellyOCG 2022 Global Workforce Report, Re:work, which surveyed 1000 senior decision-makers comprising a mix of C-suite, director, and senior management at some of the world’s biggest companies, finds that six in 10 (58%) are not currently happy in their job, and that less than a third (28%) are planning to stay at their company for two years.

Unmanageable workloads and not being remunerated fairly are cited as two of the main reasons for unhappiness within their current roles, suggesting that burnout could be a driving factor for those looking to jump ship. One-in-10 are already actively looking for new roles.

The findings are a stark warning to employers that they must pay greater attention to effectively address workplace stress and burnout – or this widespread “boss loss” will have significant implications for their organisations.

As companies continue to redefine their strategies in the post-pandemic workplace, they must prioritise employee wellbeing, according to Tammy Browning, President for KellyOCG: “The findings of the report clearly show that the strain of the last two and a half years has taken its toll on senior leaders within all manner of businesses. Workers at all levels have been running too hard for too long, and a life-work shift is urgently needed. Companies planning their return-to-work strategies need to prioritise finding ways to make work better for everyone, rather than how to get people back to the office.”

The report, a follow-up to the 2021 report, Next-level Agility: The Four Dynamics of a Resilient Workforce, comes at a time when businesses across the globe wrestle with what the post-pandemic workplace will look like. Perhaps reflective of the ongoing uncertainty with COVID-19, even two-and-a-half years on, just one-in-three (35%) say their company has a definitive plan for whether, when and how to return to the office.

The report surveyed a global sample of senior executives in 12 countries and 10 industries who work for some of the world’s biggest multinational corporates. Together, their employers represent a combined global revenue of 135 billion USD. Other key findings include:

  • Companies are failing to take mental health seriously, with three-in-four (72%) senior leaders saying their employer doesn’t care about their mental health. Organisations are also failing to address toxic management behaviour immediately (67% globally, 70% in the UK). Companies are also seeing a rise in employees taking time off due to mental health struggles, with one in four (27%) decision-makers globally saying their company has reported an increase in the last year, with the figure jumping to one in three (32%) for the UK.

  • Companies are continuing to pay lip-service to DEI, according to half (49%) of those surveyed for the report. The most common steps taken to address DEI in the workplace were hosting open forums where senior management discusses DEI with employees, creating employee resource groups that focus on key DEI issues, and introducing sponsorship programmes to help junior staff from underrepresented groups get promoted (all 30% globally). Just 19% introduced DEI training and/or incentives for leaders, and only one in four has a clear route to report discrimination at work (25% globally, 22% in the UK).

  • Leaders are struggling to make hybrid work a success, whilst some also believe it’s creating unfair biases within the workplace. Just two-in-ten firms believe that hybrid work is positively impacting organisational culture (21% globally, 25% in the UK), and almost a third expect that the complexity of managing a hybrid workforce will eventually require a return to the office for most employees (28% globally, 21% in the UK). One-in-four senior leaders say in-office workers are perceived as higher performers than remote/hybrid employees (27% both globally and in the UK), and in-office workers are more likely to be promoted than remote/hybrid employees (27% globally, 21% in the UK).

  • More strategic use of contingent talent could help companies alleviate employee burnout. Of those surveyed, just one-in-three (36%) companies have a strategy in place to best utilise contingent workers (also known as non-permanent workers, such as freelancers and consultants), despite recognising their potential to reduce pressure on permanent employees. Although more than a quarter (28% globally, 22% in the UK) plan to increase their use of contingent talent by at least 25% in the next five years, two in three admit contingent talent is perceived as less qualified than permanent talent within their company (66% globally, 72% in the UK).

Commenting on the contingent talent findings, Tammy Browning concludes, “There’s no quick fix to the Great Resignation but tapping into the talented pool of contingent workers can and should be part of the solution. We know from our findings that companies that use contingent workers more effectively reported higher levels of employee wellbeing; for companies worried about overworked teams, contingent workers are an effective solution.”

The report finds that just a handful of firms, known as the “Vanguards,” reported employee wellbeing and productivity had increased during the pandemic.” Crucially, not only were Vanguards twice as likely to encourage the use of contingent talent, but they were also 1.5 times more likely to have a clearly developed and articulated strategy for the use of contingent talent.

Kirsten Tolfree-Dart, Contingent Worker Program Manager, at Kantar adds: “The pandemic has caused employees to completely re-evaluate what they look for in a job and it seems that many workers are increasingly interested in contingent rather than permanent opportunities. Hiring contingent workers has been an effective solution for us to address changing business demands quicker. We’re focusing on the skills we need rather than the job titles, which provides a lot more flexibility, particularly for candidates looking to change careers. In particular, we are utilising both employees and contingent workers to deliver key transformation projects. This has been a game changer in limiting unmanageable workloads and helps keep our workforce from feeling overstretched.”

About KellyOCG®
KellyOCG connects companies with the talented people they need to fuel and grow their business through our unrivaled global talent supply chain and leading workforce solutions including Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). We combine decades of people industry experience with proprietary insights and a continued focus on technology to produce world-class programs that meet an organization’s unique workforce needs and can start them on their journey to total talent management. Our ability to anticipate what’s next for talent solutions drives us to challenge the status quo making us a trusted partner for our global client portfolio, which spans leading industries across North America, APAC and EMEA. Visit or connect with us on LinkedIn to learn more.

About the Survey
KellyOCG surveyed 1,000 senior executives, 20% of whom are in C-suite or board member roles, across 12 countries – Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States – and 10 industries.