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The Great Resignation

Many people are quitting their jobs, reflecting a global trend that shows few signs of slowing down.



The Great Resignation


Many people are quitting their jobs, reflecting a global trend that shows few signs of slowing down. This pales into insignificance though against the vast numbers who report they are thinking of leaving their current employer within the next 12 months. Research by Microsoft has found that 41% of the global workforce are ‘likely’ to do so. In the UK between 24% (Ranstad) and 38% (Personio) of workers report they are intending to do so. Intent is not the same as action but pause for thought.


It is hard to ascertain what is really going on here as there is little research to guide us, especially in the UK. We know that the exodus started in retail and hospitality but is now affecting a broad spectrum of the workforce with healthcare, technology and knowledge workers often mentioned. Young workers and those over 64 are often cited as being most likely to have left employment. However, a large global survey carried out by Visier this year found that resignations are highest among mid-career employees between 30-45 years old. Grace Lordan (Associate Professor, LSE) believes that women are leading the exodus from corporate organisations and there is evidence that this holds true.


In many ways the Great Resignation is not surprising. We are emerging from a period of tremendous uncertainty and upheaval that saw our lives turned upside down and many things that bring meaning and joy no longer possible. Levels of anxiety, depression and stress have soared. As life returns to normal it is likely that people are taking a step back and reassessing what is important to them and their options. They are doing so against an economy that has rebounded and with the highest job vacancies ever recorded (October, 21). The way in which organisations have treated employers during the pandemic will also be in important factor.


What do people want?

In our experience, and frequently reported that many people are feeling overworked, stressed, burnt-out, unsupported and unappreciated. Some are merely languishing whereas others are voting with their feet. Generally they want the following:

1. To feel valued, supported, trusted and that they are being treated fairly.

2. Greater flexibility round place of work and hours.

3. Better remuneration and benefits.

4. Opportunities for advancement or promotion.

5. To be able to develop their knowledge and skills.

6. A job that contributes rather than detracts from their overall wellbeing and provides a good work-life balance.


What do organisations need to do?

The factors underlying the Great Resignation are complex and multi-faceted. Given the lack of concrete data first and foremost they need to understand the scale and nature of the problem. Specifically, who has left and why (furlough, voluntary resignations, retirement etc). What is the impact of the problem on quality of work, output, revenue, profit, morale? Who is intending to leave, why, the potential impact and what they need to stay.


This is an opportunity to become an employer of choice with all the benefits that brings in terms of its ability to attract and retain the best talent. Think about how to create a culture of engagement, recognition, learning and communication. Interventions will depend on findings from the above but points to consider include the following:

1. Flexibility. Work and home-life are increasingly interconnected and this needs to be recognised. For many people this is more important than pay.

2. Pay continues to be important and for some is essential. Moving roles and/or organisations has long been the best way of ensuring better pay.

3. Take a new and new look at other benefits and think about what you can offer.

4. Recognise and monitor stress and burnout and provide counselling, coaching, wellbeing and resilience interventions, mindfulness.

5. Consider how to develop individuals including coaching, mentoring, education and training.

6. Think about how to enrich roles or provide experience where promotion is not possible.

7. Recognise good performance and be creative in acknowledging and rewarding people who have gone beyond what is expected of them.

8. Think about how you communicate, when, what works and how can you improve it.



Article attributed to CareerActive