What is the great resignation?
The Great Resignation is a phenomenon that describes a record number of people leaving their jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 has been described as “the year of the Great Resignation” as people were (and still are) quitting their jobs at historic rates, official data suggests people are resigning at the highest rate since 2009. According to Microsoft’s 2021 work trend index, 41 percent of people are likely to consider leaving their jobs within the next year. The implications for business owners are difficult, almost half of their entire workforce may, right now, be thinking about leaving them.
Some suggest that the trend has been driven by an economic and psychological shift as employers struggled to tempt staff to return to industries that have too often treated workers as dispensable. Across the UK employers are struggling to keep staff and recruit staff, whilst there is also the highest record of open vacancies. Data shows that the Great Resignation happening around the world is not just anecdotal. In the US, a record 4.5 million people resigned in November 2021.
How has the pandemic had an impact?
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact for multiple different reasons. Firstly, people finally feel confident searching for a new job after the uncertainty throughout the pandemic. People who had planned on leaving their jobs before Covid-19 but decided to hold off due to the instability of the pandemic are now resuming their job search. As a result, the backlog of resignations that has built up over the last 18 months is beginning to clear. Along with this, vaccination rates were on the rise and economies were opening again so the job market is improving at the fastest pace ever seen. Research showed that 63 percent of employers are currently recruiting, and there are more opportunities out there than there have been for several years.
The pandemic has also given people the time and space to reflect on both their personal and professional lives. According to a LinkedIn poll, over 74 percent said the pandemic has made them reconsider their job or career choices. People have not had the time before or had their life stand still the way they did during lockdowns to reflect and rethink their jobs and a lot of people have realised they don’t like their jobs. Without the distractions and colleagues that come with working in an office and being left just doing your job at home, they’ve realised they don’t actually enjoy the work they do. Many people have lost connection to the workplace and as a result, there’s been a huge rise in people choosing to go it alone and setting up their own solo ventures.
Similar to having more time, people are more aware of how efficiently they can use their time because of working from home. People don’t want to go back to the office. Millions of people worked from home in lockdowns, where they are the ones in control, doing their jobs in a way that works best for them and enjoying the freedom to live their personal lives alongside their 9-5s. Along with this, many people relocated to be closer to family or to live the lifestyle they always dreamt of, so having to return back to the office is a big trigger to leave their jobs for many people. 46 percent of people say they’re more likely to move because they can work remotely now.
The pandemic also has left so many people burnt out, it’s been a very difficult time, and this has reflected in the way people feel about their jobs or how their employers have dealt with it at a time like this. 37 percent of the global workforce say their companies are asking too much of them at a time like this, one in five think their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance, 54 percent feel overworked, and 39 percent feel exhausted. Technology has been the savior to keep us working, but it has also blurred the lines between our work life and our private life and led to a level of burnout that is unsustainable.
Finally, people are wanting to make movements in their career growth. After having to put their personal development on pause during the pandemic people are ready to get back into their path of growth and success. High-performing workers are concerned about their career advancement in their current job, with 75 percent of people saying the pandemic has made them question their skillsets. Many people feel to reach that next level and achieve their goals, they have no choice but to move jobs. This is linked to people looking elsewhere because of salary and employers not offering bonuses or pay rises, 23 percent of workers are looking elsewhere because of this. For many people, pay has been their main reason, with the increased cost of living many people have no choice but to look for something else.
What can be done?
To combat the great resignation and to attract and retain talent, employers are being encouraged to look into the future and introduce new policies and practices which demonstrate they value their employees and their needs. Research shows that the second most important benefit, after salary bonuses, for an employer to attract workers is flexible or remote working, followed by extra holidays and days off. Companies offering hybrid or remote working are less likely to be affected by resignations, with almost 1 in 3 (28%) workers admitting that flexible working policies are encouraging them to stay in their current job. This is further supported by reasons for UK workers wanting to leave their jobs; one in five want to quit because their employer forces them to come to the office and can’t work remotely, and 20% feel their employer favors those who work in the office.
Many studies show that offering flexible or remote work, extra days off, and salary bonuses, will help businesses attract and retain staff. Communication methods are also crucial to attract and retain talent, with one in ten UK workers saying that having access to collaboration technology is making them stay in their current job. Businesses should maybe therefore move towards digital headquarters which will improve productivity, foster innovation, and help increase the diversity of company workforces.
Liz Gadd has plenty of advice and help available to clients, so do get in touch on 0117 301 8223 if you’d like to find out more or chat things through.