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The Great Resignation: when will it all be over?

The Great Resignation: when will it all be over?

Table of Contents

It started during the pandemic lockdown when thousands of employees decided they would take the opportunity to start a new business or find a fresh opportunity, and the phrase, the ‘Great Resignation’ was born.

The term was the brainchild of academic Anthony Klotz who realised that the sudden changes that many workers experienced because of Covid saw them re-evaluate their careers.

He said among the reasons for this include: workers being burnt out, reflecting on their contentment and working life, a backlog of pent-up frustration leading to their resignation and the unexpected freedom that many workers were enjoying.

Klotz’ prediction was timely because just weeks after he had turned the phrase, the US job figures for 2020 revealed that nearly 4 million workers had quit their jobs.

Looking ahead, Klotz doesn’t expect resignation rates to drop in any meaningful way. And that, over time, the reasons people are resigning have diversified. 

And new research from McKinsey and Co concurs: what has become a record-breaking trend is not going to end soon.

Resignation trend not surpassing previous levels

That being said, in the UK, there’s little sign that workers here are following in the footsteps of American workers to pack in their jobs with the resignation trend not surpassing previous levels.

But HR experts do acknowledge that there has been a shift in people’s expectations for their jobs and that the Great Resignation is still in full swing - and employers are looking at ways of bringing this to an end.

HR teams want to retain their talent and introduce new ways of working and even explore what the concept of purpose means to an employee.

The McKinsey report found that 35% of workers left their job because of uncaring leaders. Read what Dan Murray-Serter had to say on leadership post-pandemic.

Other reasons included a lack of redevelopment, unsustainable performance expectations, and a lack of health, wellbeing and meaningful work.

Employees want work that is meaningful

Essentially, growing numbers of employees are looking for work that is meaningful and certainly more fulfilling.

This means that employers need to take note and take a step back to work out why employees love their work and why others may not. 

To put this into perspective, PwC’s 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey revealed that up to one in five workers globally are looking to quit this year.

The survey questioned 52,000 employees in 44 countries in March this year.
It found that for 71% of employees, the main reason for leaving or changing jobs was salary.

However, the research from PwC also reveals that it’s not all about money and why people continue to resign. They also found that job fulfilment was a key reason for leaving and being ‘true to yourself’ while at work.

The key to employee retention is employee engagement and businesses need to monitor that. But another thing to consider is how aligned a team is.

If they're motivated by a shared goal they're more likely to be emotionally invested, that's where an incentive like an employee share scheme might come in useful.

Employees want to work where they want to work

The report also points to work flexibility as being of increasing importance to workers and they would prefer to work remotely full-time – but only 18% of employers are likely to accept that proposal.

However, PwC says that employers must change and tailor their workforce strategy so that it meets the needs of their employees if they want to succeed. Remote and hybrid working is here to stay.

This point was underlined at the World Economic Forum last year when Professor Dr Isabell Welpe, of the Technical University of Munich, said that employers need to refocus if they want to retain and attract staff.

She told attendees that the desire from workers for better conditions and flexible working should be a "win-win situation for organisations and workers alike". 

There’s no doubt that the world of work has changed in recent years, and the pandemic lockdown has probably accelerated the march towards remote working.

The lockdown has also led to growing numbers of employees considering whether they would get more out of life by working for themselves. Discover entrepreneurs who did just that during Covid.

But as for when the Great Resignation will end? No one knows. As people leave their jobs in greater numbers to become entrepreneurs and find career fulfilment, it would appear that it won’t end any time soon.

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