When the three of us graduated from college, we watched our talented friends eagerly join the workforce. Whether headed to a fast-growing startup, a prestigious consulting firm, a corporate rotation program, or a role with a company in their dream industry, most people we knew were excited about where they were headed to start their careers.
Just four years later, all but a few of those friends are no longer where they began. Many have churned through multiple gigs. Out of the hundreds of our peers, everyone has at least considered leaving their job once.
Some of the movement is explainable. The world has changed since the days of staying at one company from college to retirement. Modern labor dynamics incentivize job-hopping, especially early on in a career.
But a changing approach to careers didn't explain it all. When we talked to friends, we realized another, more concerning phenomenon underneath the trend. People aren't always running toward the next opportunity—they are often running away from their old one.
Our friends didn't feel supported by the culture of the workplaces they were excited to join initially. When we looked further, we realized continual job frustration wasn't limited to our early-career counterparts. People everywhere are struggling with their work environments.
The most unusual aspect of the situation was the timing of this breaking point. While workplace culture has been deteriorating, companies have been pouring more money into it. Organizations are investing in employee experience more than ever before. In the knowledge worker economy, most teams are recognizing the importance of attracting and keeping top talent.
Companies that care about talent have all kinds of great perks. They have espresso machines with twelve types of milk, unlimited PTO, gym memberships, and learning stipends. Big firms are building beautiful campuses and training facilities. From the outside, the workplace has never looked better.
But dismal employee retention and engagement numbers persist. Despite significant investments to boost culture, companies are clearly failing to deliver positive employee experiences and are spending billions every year to replace their turnover-prone talent.
John, Brooks, and I started investigating.
We had two main questions:
We continued to chat with employees informally about their experiences at work. At the same time, we started more formal discussions with people on the other side of the issues: the HR, People Operations, and Employee Experience teams, whose entire job is promoting employee happiness, ensuring productivity, and combating turnover.
We spent a year and a half talking to hundreds of companies around the world—organizations of 100,000 and teams of four. Some all in one office and some completely distributed.
Simultaneously, we studied academic research in the growing field of employee turnover theory to dig deeper into the data being tossed around in the space.
After a year and a half of exploring the issues, here's what we found.
We started Gather because we see a path to making the workplace better. We’re excited to help companies build incredible experiences for all employees.
John, Brooks, and Alex