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The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation

Here’s what you need to know.

The Great resignation is real. In multiple countries including the UK Monster’s polling of seekers has shown an increase in interest in changing jobs. In the US one monster survey had that as high as 95%. In the UK we know two-thirds of people are considering a move – but inertia is a factor. It’s hard to say how many people will act on that, but many more people than normal are considering a change, and that’s what we mean by the Great Resignation.

Why is the Great Resignation happening?

There are many reasons for the great resignation – nearly as many reasons as there are resignations!

First there is the backlog of people who intended to change roles anyway but delayed the change due to furlough, the pandemic & uncertainty but also, on an emotional level, people are having a strong response to how they feel their employer has treated them during the Pandemic.

If people felt secure and looked after, loyalty has increased. If they felt insecure, or even unsafe, during the pandemic, or if their work wasn’t flexible, that can be the foundation of a desire to leave.

Monster’s annual future of work report for 2021 measured attitudes during the first lockdown. The results were shocking. 46% of UK workers say they have experienced job-related anxiety and/or depression. That’s higher than any other country we surveyed. If your job is literally making you ill, that’s a strong motivation to quit.

Workers want to find “More Meaningful” Careers

People have re-evaluated what they want in the wake of the pandemic. Over 60% of the UK candidates Monster surveyed in Lockdown said they wanted to find “More Meaningful Work”. The top three policy changes that workers want are – Flexible work, Salary Protection and Health Policies. Many workers have had a taste of flexibility – that’s not just ‘working from home’ but more flexibility when, how and where they work – and they want to keep that. If that converts to resignations will come down to how companies react. Many are listening and making flexibility permanent. We are seeing more initiatives like hybrid remote work models, shorter working weeks and flexible hours. Those firms will see fewer resignations than companies that mandate ‘everything ‘back to the way it was’.

Ultimately the inflexible companies will need to adapt to the new way of working if they want to attract new staff. The pandemic has also caused many people to place more value on purpose. Work satisfaction doesn’t just come from work-life balance. A lot of people also want to find their work meaningful.

People want to work for a company whose values align with theirs – that’s especially true with the younger emerging workforce. That can be on a range of issues like social issues, diversity, the environment and politics. All these factors come into play. At Monster, we understand the importance of value alignment for both companies and candidates. They both need to find the ‘right fit’.

Is it Brexit, the pandemic or both?

There’s some debate on what is directly attributed to the Pandemic, what is Brexit fall-out and other factors.
Brexit has created a lot of headlines around shortages of workers and companies struggling to hire. This can actually make workers optimistic about career moves and changes. If there is higher demand for workers, they see less risk in changing jobs – because they know there are opportunities out there.

People are Changing Careers.

And this isn’t just a case of people going to do the same or similar job for another company. A third of the UK Candidates monster surveyed said they thought their next job would be in a different sector. We have known for a long time that a change in career is common at ‘Life-pivoting’ events. When people have a big birthday or become a parent, or get married, they are more likely to change careers soon. We also know a change in career is more common after a pause – following a redundancy, leaving education or following an illness.

The Pandemic was a mass ‘life-pivoting’ event for millions of people at the same time, and then furlough and lockdown caused a pause. It’s been the perfect scenario to drive career change. For some people, that’s even been a positive thing to come out of a horrific time. Many people have been forced to slow down. That has changed their views on how they want to spend their life and what is important to them. When you might spend more time with your job than with your family, it’s an obvious area for change.

We know job satisfaction, is correlated with if people can find meaning and purpose in their work. That’s what many of the ‘great resigners’ are looking for. Eyes have been opened to new ways of working. Opportunities have been created as well, where people have turned furlough hobbies into side-hustles into viable businesses.

How should employers react to the ‘Great Resignation’?

If you are a business owner, or manager, worried about how the great resignation might impact your staff, there are actions you can do to reduce attrition. Actually, the actions you need to do to retain your current staff are also what you need to do to attract new staff. Your values need to align with your employees, and you need to communicate that well. This is the ‘employer brand’ – which is very different from a corporate brand.

Monster has a 6-value framework you can use to test the strength of your employer brand.

  1. Care. Is it obvious that you care for your employees as well as your customers? Do your benefits and workplace culture show that you support your workforce and go above and beyond to make sure you have a healthy and vibrant workplace?
  2. Interest. Do you deliver a stimulating, interesting work environment, and innovative employment policies and procedures? How does what you do add value to society?
  3. Social. Does your employment atmosphere promote teamwork and camaraderie? Do people get to work on cross-departmental projects? Does the company host social events and family days?
  4. Economic. Economic values are not just salary. What is the economic security of your company like? Is your pay competitive? Do you offer benefits that have real value?
  5. Development. Do you invest in growing your employees, recognise their achievements, and provide the opportunity for career-enhancing experiences? Are there clear paths to promotion?
  6. Application. Are employees given the opportunity to use their skills and knowledge to contribute to the company beyond their job description? Are employees encouraged to bring ideas in an open forum? Is innovation rewarded?

What are the implications for different industries and regions?

Different jobs and industries are being impacted to different extents by the great resignation. If a sector with skills shortages can be done remotely, then companies may look to hire in other markets rather than invest in training or increase salary. If a job can be done remotely, then it can be done in Edinburgh, Prague or London just as easily.
If those jobs are currently in London or the South East, then it could boost hiring in other parts of the UK with a lower cost of living and average wages. There is a big opportunity for regions like Scotland to benefit from the redistribution of employment within the UK. However, If the jobs are already in cheaper parts of the UK, then they may potentially get filled abroad. Jobs with skills shortages that can’t be done remotely – HGV drivers is the obvious example, Nurses are another, will be in higher demand but there is a significant cost and delay to entry.

This could push up wages, but it could also see firms go out of business as they can’t commit to orders or absorb costs. With HGV drivers many qualified drivers have left the industry due to the type of work and conditions, and even a decent pay increase is unlikely to win them back if the lifestyle doesn’t change.

Across the economy as a whole, however, if we are seeing a large volume of unfilled positions, that is a move to a jobseeker led market, and this has traditionally driven up wages due to increased hiring competition. The impact may be hard to measure if companies compete with improved conditions like flexibility, scope of work, corporate social responsibility opportunities – that can not be graphed as easily as salary.

What Happens Next?

Looking forward, There are so many factors in play right now it’s hard to make firm predictions! The pandemic isn’t over, the full impact of post-pandemic Brexit is unknown, the climate crisis is already affecting jobs, and new technologies such as AI automation are set to disrupt many white-collar positions. We need to see how the “Great Resignation” is going to interact with the “Great Reset” to the global economy that is being talked about by the world economic forum – that’s also being referred to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
Supply and demand will drive changes that are likely to be painful in the short to medium term, but beneficial in the long term with better working conditions, training opportunities and salaries driving increased productivity.

Ready to Protect Your Business from the Great Resignation?

If you would like to protect your business from the Great Resignation, you need to manage your Employer Brand and it’s messaging. Employer Branding isn’t just about attracting new staff – strong employer brand values will help you retain staff too. Packed with analysis, articles and in-depth case studies you can download your free Employer Branding Guide here.