The Great Resignation; An Opportunity for Change

The great resignation

The Great Resignation is the informal name for the widespread trend of a significant number of workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas A&M professor Anthony Klotz defined the term  “The Great Resignation” (paywall)

“How we spent our time before the pandemic may not be how we want to spend our time after,” says Klotz.

Klotz believes how we spend our time pre and post-pandemic will cause a massive shift in the future of work he identifies the key factors of Hybrid and remote work as a key driver in people reassessing the status quo. 

The great resignation, if the stats are to be believed, will massively affect organisations from the US to the UK and their ability to function and drive businesses forward. 

Some Stats: 

  • According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 74% of the participants said time spent at home during the pandemic caused them to re-evaluate their current work situation.
    • survey of 1,000 UK workers reveals that almost a third (29%) of UK workers are considering moving to a new job this year. Findings also uncovered the industry’s most likely to be affected by this with Legal (44%), IT & Telecoms (42%), and Sales, Media & Marketing (40%). 
    • Employees between the ages of 30 and 45 have had the greatest increase in resignations with a 20% increase between 20 and 2021. (Harvard Business Review)
    • More than 19 million US workers and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021 (McKinsey & Company)
    • 65% of employees say the pandemic has made them rethink the place that work should have in their lives. Gartner

Top Reasons for the Great Resignation 

  • The Covid Pandemic: The covid pandemic has given workers time to reflect on their current work, what this means to them and how this aligns to their life and values. 
  • A backlog of resignations: workers considering resigning from their jobs prior to COVID-19 stayed in roles due to the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.
  • Working from home: remote work became the norm for a lot of people, so when businesses started asking them to return home full-time many wanted to remain working from home.
  • Sense of belonging being valued: there is a disconnect between what the employees consider important and what their managers and companies see as important. (McKinsey’s & Company)
  • Employee burnout: while 42% of employees were already experiencing burnout before the pandemic, that number skyrocketed to 72% during the pandemic, due to increased anxiety, heavier workloads, and people taking less time off. (Limade)

An Opportunity for Change   

Many believe the great resignation is an opportunity for change, forward-thinking companies are shifting their focus towards retaining employees and making work more meaningful. For work to be more meaningful employers need to focus on true authentic employee engagement and understand the root cause of leavers and develop strategies, engagement models, and tools that make employees want to stay. 

Companies in 2022 should  focus on: 

Understanding Employee Key Drivers: Companies need to understand what is driving employees at a company and social level so that they can shape their offering to be more meaningful to employees. Companies need to take their employer brand seriously and understand how this aligns with employee values. Companies that invest in their employer brand see staff turnover reduced by 28%. (Office Vibe)

Flexible work Arrangements: Forward-thinking companies will focus or Hybrid, work from home and remote first models to tap into the talent pool that sees flexible working as their preferred model of work. COVID, it was a novelty. The rise of the four day work week in 2021 may start to become the norm in 2022 for forward-thinking companies and become a competitive advantage for companies in the war for talent (LinkedIn). Recent research has shown job seekers Searches for jobs that allow employees to work from home in Ireland were six times higher in December 2021 than before the Covid-19 pandemic began Irish Examiner.  (Irish Examiner – Remote Working)

Focus on employee Wellbeing and mental health: With burnout being a significant factor in the great resignation, companies need to focus more on the mental health of employees according to research from the CIPD, Fostering employee wellbeing is good for people and the organisation. Promoting wellbeing can help prevent stress and create positive working environments where individuals and organisations can thrive. Good health and wellbeing can be a core enabler of employee engagement and organisational performance.  

Employee engagement technology: With hybrid, WFH, and remote working, companies need to make use of digital technology to improve employee experience and engagement, there has been an explosion of technology in this area that focuses on both productivity, communication, and internal social elements of the business. These software products can strengthen business communication, employee engagement, culture, and connection to the business. Products such as Workplace from Meta, Viva from Microsoft, and Humu all focus on the workplace and improving employee experience and engagement. 

The Future 

As COVID 19 has had major impacts on the world of work across the globe lots of organisations and individuals are still in a period of adjusting to a new normal. Companies that thrive will be the ones that hire employees that authentically share their values. Forward-thinking organisations will focus less on the transactional elements of employment and more on: 

  • Understanding employee key drivers
  • Employer Brand
  • Employee experience and engagement 
  • Mental health 
  • Flexibility In the workplace 
  • Equality, Inclusion, and Diversity 

2022 will be an interesting year for organisations as they develop new strategies to retain and hire staff post COVID.  


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