You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

The Great Resignation Is Still Coming For Your Senior Execs, This Retention Perk Will Help

Written by: Sandra Lewis

Headlines about the Great Resignation may have taken a backseat to questions about a looming recession, but new data shows that the employee shift is far from over.

Despite layoffs and hiring freezes combing through a number of sectors, PwC’s recent Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey, one of the largest surveys of the global workforce, reports that 1 in 5 employees still plans to leave their job in 2022.

This trend stretches beyond frontline workers — your leaders are quitting, too.

The Great Resignation is coming for your C-suite, with a historic number of top brass stepping out.

CEO exits in Q1 2022 were the highest on record—and that’s after an already record-breaking 2021.

To combat these numbers at every level, corporate giants like Apple are increasing wages; with Microsoft even doubling its salary budget. But is money alone the best answer to keep senior execs?

The data (and exit stories) suggest no.

For example, Apple lost a key artificial intelligence leader over an aggressive return-to-office (RTO) policy.

So, what’s really going on and is there a retention strategy that can help keep your leaders happy, fulfilled, and productive?

Why Leaders Are Leaving

Dubbed “Covid clarity,” the pandemic simply accelerated a breaking point for leaders, adding rocket fuel to a trend that began in 2019.

Today, execs are taking stock of their own work-life balance—and the growing consensus is they spend more time on work than life.

As one former CEO in his mid-thirties explained to NBC after stepping away from the helm:

“It’s taken me a few months to learn how to be present again, to go to the park, go on hikes, spend time with the kids, take them out for ice cream without checking emails on my phone. There’s something real about that.”

Leaders are deciding en masse that their time, flexibility, and health are too important to put on the backburner.

Burnout is an urgent problem for top- and mid-level leaders alike. And its impact is a continual, often invisible, leak in your bottom line.

The True Cost Of Leadership Turnover

Turnover is expensive and costs anywhere from one-half to two times an employee’s annual salary.

As Gallup points out, your best people are the “reliable winners, your constant innovators and your most effective problem solvers.”

Worse than hiring headaches, losing leaders means significant opportunity costs.

Beyond the million-dollar expense of losing leaders are the profitable products and services that might have been—but were never brought to market. Or the magnetic cultures the best leaders create—but were never fostered.

The great news is that with positive changes, personal fulfillment and corporate productivity can co-exist. And even better, mutually encourage each other.

That’s right, we’re talking about a path to scaling without 18-hour workdays, burnout culture, and toxic productivity.

The Linchpin Perk To Help Solve Executive Turnover

While not a cure-all, reducing executive turnover can be as simple as adding a key perk for leaders on your team: a fractional executive assistant.

Two cases can be made for this strategy: one for the budget, one for the leader, and both to benefit the company.

Case #1: Positive ROI for a skilled executive assistant is all but guaranteed.

Imagine a senior executive who earns $250,000 per year who works with a high-end, fractional executive assistant for 20 hours per week.

If we use an investment of $50 an hour, the EA only needs to increase the executive’s productivity by 20% to technically break even.

This number is easily achievable for the best EA’s to achieve considering HBR’s finding that managers spend 54% of their time on admin tasks. No more bottomless email inboxes, managing complex schedules, arranging travel, or data entry.

However, what numbers on a spreadsheet fail to show are the exponential increase in job satisfaction a talented executive assistant brings to the table.

Case #2: Executive assistants directly solve the problems causing leaders to leave.

Between the Great Resignation and the potential downsizing with the current economic uncertainty, your leaders are likely running lean teams with staff shortages. Meaning they may have extra work stacked atop an already overflowing plate.

Of course, this is the recipe for burnout: endless work without margin to recharge.

Burnout leaves leaders feeling totally depleted. And this isn’t simply a “work” problem—it affects every area of life:

  • Relationships
  • Physical health
  • Emotional state
  • Sleep quality
  • Decision making
  • Attention to detail

The trouble is, where can leaders find the time?

They can’t, because the time to recharge isn’t found, it’s made.

Andrea Goulet, CEO of Corgibytes, was working 18 hours a day. Instead of capitalizing on growth, she found herself being crushed by it. She didn’t just need help; she needed support that could jump in and triage from day one.

Andrea took the leap to using a fractional executive assistant and saw results within a week. “I was blown away. All of a sudden, I was working normal hours.”

Top-flight executive assistants give back hundreds of hours of working time to your leaders, allowing them to not only work more manageable hours, but also giving them the opportunity to unplug, recharge, and rest.

Optimize For Inertia

In their book Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath explain that we humans have a habit of focusing on the negative aspects of a problem to solve it.

For our purposes, we’ve tackled the problem of losing key senior execs and some of its underlying causes. However, the Heath brothers suggest focusing on what they call “bright spots.”

So, rather than only asking why leaders are leaving, we should also ask what makes them stay.

A time-tested study on talent retention that anonymously surveyed 406 employees from three companies found an answer: inertia.

Simply put, people stay put until something causes them to leave. Two factors that make roles the stickiest are job satisfaction and company environment—two aspects solidly within a company’s influence.

Leaders stay when they’re fulfilled in their work and engage in a positive environment.

Perhaps the surest path to these are helping leaders do what they do best: strategic, high-leverage work without the unbearable administrative tasks or stress of sacrificing their personal lives.

Executive assistants meaningfully help leaders thrive. And their absence costs companies dearly.

Get Ahead Of The Great Resignation Curve

Julia Pollak, Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter, said of the current leadership exodus: “I know executives who finally got to know their kids, and they don’t want to give that up.”

A thriving career and meaningful personal life are not mutually exclusive. To separate them represents a false dichotomy. And the companies that embrace this will have the best chance at retaining their most talented leaders.

In the midst of today’s economic uncertainty, don’t get left wondering whether your senior executives are going to stay. Instead of losing key leaders (and millions of dollars), get an edge at keeping them while increasing productivity and job satisfaction simultaneously.

Start a conversation with us about working with a Fortune-500 remote executive assistant before you unnecessarily lose your senior execs to factors within your control.

Topic: Remote Executive Assistant

Updated on July 29th, 2022

About the author: Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Boldly. She's passionate about helping founders move their business forward with the right skills and resources. Setting an example of the efficiencies gained working virtually, she manages her entire team on a virtual basis.