Study: 25% of Bosses Used RTO Policy to Get Employees to Quit

"One in four (25%) VP and C-suite executives admit they hoped for some voluntary turnover during an RTO."

That return to the office push that has plagued white collar workers for the last few years might have been, in part, an attempt to get them to quit their jobs.

To be specific, one out of every four VP and C-suite executives polled in a new study said that they had hoped for voluntary turnover as one result of their push to end remote work within their organizations.

Needless to say, this new data point goes a long way towards explaining why so many businesses felt the need to end hybrid and remote work policies, despite their usefulness for boosting productivity and helping disabled or caretaking employees.

25% of Bosses Admit to Hoping Employees Quit

The study from BambooHR surveyed 1,504 full-time US employees about remote work. Overall, this survey found that some people work better in-person while others work best remotely.

However, the most interesting part of the study by far is the connection between remote work and office downsizing. First, 28% of remote workers polled said that they were afraid they’d be laid off before their in-office coworkers were.

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Even if they’re not laid off, however, the push to force employees back into in-office work could easily push them to find a new job.

“Nearly two in five (37%) managers, directors, and executives believe their organization enacted layoffs in the last year because fewer employees than they expected quit during their RTO. And their beliefs are well-founded: One in four (25%) VP and C-suite executives and one in five (18%) HR pros admit they hoped for some voluntary turnover during an RTO.”

That 25% of executives who say RTO is good for pushing out employees might not be fully representative of how many executives think this way: After all, that’s just the percentage that will publicly admit to this goal.

Does This Explain Why Execs Hate Remote Work?

This revelation lines up with a few quotes and stats that we already know about the issue of in-person vs. remote work inside and outside of the tech industry.

First, I’m reminded of a quote from SVP of Amazon Video and Studios Mike Hopkins, who admitted last year that he has “no data either way” regarding the sweeping return to office mandate at Amazon. The company is even denying promotions to remote workers, seemingly without data. But if the real benefit is to boost voluntary turnover, this might make sense.

The findings also align with another study from last month, which determined that the return-to-office push is causing high performers to leave companies at a higher rate than lower performers. This is technically an increase in voluntary turnover, even if it’s unlikely to be the type that execs actually want.

Before this study, the main argument for why execs were so weirdly insistent on cutting out remote work was that they needed to justify their real estate investments. Now, there’s another likely explanation.

Working Remotely, Despite It All

I know what you’re thinking — it’s time to start studying how to get these executives on their own voluntary turnover journey. Productivity is struggling amid the RTO push, and apparently, many executives are willing to be less productive as long as it makes their employees unhappy.

The world of white-collar work is shaky on all fronts right now, with layoffs, inflation, price hikes, and in-office work all combining their powers like infinity stones wielded by a C-suite executive intent on snapping your work-life balance out of existence.

However, it is still possible to find a remote work position. We’re constantly rounding up the best open gigs at remotely friendly tech companies like Microsoft and Google, so keep an eye out and study up on the best interview responses.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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