The Great Resignation – Headache or Opportunity?

A social trend has emerged this year of people leaving their jobs by the masses.

This article authored by Auckland HR Adviser Bhavika Singh.

Time to read: 2 mins

Texas university professor Anthony Klutz referred to it as the ‘Great Resignation’, and the term has taken off around the globe nearly as fast as employees are handing in their notice. This was an unexpected side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic which has got employees reassessing their job satisfaction and reflecting on their values.

Smart employers see the great resignation as something to be embraced rather than feared. The market is teeming with talented people interested in what you can provide, and this is a great chance to upskill your workforce. Many are looking at changing sectors of work, which employers should not rule out either. Great people with the right attitude can be trained on the technical areas of a position and can make all the difference to your business.

It started in the United States, with millions saying ‘I quit’ each month. The US Department of Labor reported a record high of 4.3 million workers leaving their jobs in August, around 3% of the workforce. In New Zealand, an AUT study carried out over a year shows that the number of employees who were most likely to leave increased from 34.7% in May 2020 to 46.4% in April 2021, and the number of employees who were not considering leaving their jobs has halved, from 19.1% in May 2020 to 9.2% in April 2021. (The study involved around 1000 participants, on average 40 years old, mostly working in the private sector).

Employees were hanging tight to their jobs last year when the pandemic was new and uncertain. This year, we have witnessed that life and jobs can continue in a Covid world, and unsatisfied employees are now quitting or considering leaving their jobs. There might be no better time than now either, with employees having more leverage over employers than before, and border closures creating a smorgasbord of job choices for employees locally.

The key drivers behind this surge in resignations are burn out, people seeking better pay, better working conditions or a job that fits around their lifestyle. Companies who do not offer flexible working options may find employees looking elsewhere after their experience of this during lockdowns. The pandemic has given employees not one but a myriad of reasons to leave their jobs.

 

The key drivers behind this surge in resignations are burn out, people seeking better pay, better working conditions or a job that fits around their lifestyle. Companies who do not offer flexible working options may find employees looking elsewhere after their experience of this during lockdowns. The pandemic has given employees not one but a myriad of reasons to leave their jobs.

While these are all valid observations of the great resignation, it is important to remember that it is now normal for people to have multiple jobs and careers in a lifetime. The pandemic may have simply been a catalyst for job changes that were going to occur eventually anyway. A national survey of graduates carried out by Talent Solutions shows that Gen Z are expected to have 18 jobs and 6 careers in their lifetime. This is clearly something that is not going away, and employers are going to have to adapt to a continually changing workforce.

Now is the time to update your strategies for retaining top talent and long-term employee retention. Identify your major risks, such as employees with expertise that would be difficult to replace, and how you can manage these. View departures with empathy and celebrate contributions that departing employees have made.  Unmotivated workers are costly and can bring down morale, while departures provide an opportunity for internal promotion.

The great resignation is upon us, but it is not necessarily a bad thing for employers. This is a golden opportunity to enhance your workforce, and to continue building a culture which contributes to employee retention.

DISCLAIMER No liability is assumed by Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon any article within this website. It is recommended that you consult your advisor before acting on this information.

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