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Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation

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Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation

Research using employee data reveals the top five predictors of attrition and four actions managers can take in the short term to reduce attrition.

MIT Sloan Management Review,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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Want to boost retention? Improve your company culture.

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The Great Resignation has taken many by surprise. Now, a comprehensive study of 34 million employee profiles sheds light on the main reasons for the record exodus – and toxic workplace culture tops the list. Writing for MIT Sloan Management Review, three scholars break down the results of the survey and offer actionable advice for managers seeking to improve their office culture and boost employee retention. 


In 2021, American employees quit their jobs at unprecedented levels.

Between April and September 2021, over 24 million Americans quit their jobs. The driving factors of the Great Resignation, however, are more complex than the common media narrative of white-collar workers leaving due to burnout and poor compensation. A study conducted by Revelio Labs looked at 34 million online profiles of employees at Culture 500 companies, which represent almost a quarter of the private-sector workforce in the United States. Although the Great Resignation affected blue-collar and white-collar workers equally, attrition rates were more highly concentrated in certain industries, including apparel and specialty retail, as well as fast food.

Five factors – top among them a toxic workplace culture – drove the Great Resignation.

A text analysis of 1.4 million Glassdoor reviews identified 172 topics employees discussed...

About the Authors

Ben Zweig is an adjunct professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business and CEO of Revelio Labs. Senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management Donald Sull is co-founder of CultureX. Charles Sull is a co-founder of CultureX.

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