Over the past two years throughout the global pandemic, a fair share of new phrases have emerged and “The Great Resignation” seems to be a real  buzz phrase right now..  So, what’s the history here? The great resignation began in America where resignations peaked as early as April 2020 and by July 2020 a staggering 4 million Americans had quit their jobs. As is often the case, the ripple effect of what happens elsewhere in the world will eventually be felt here.

What is driving the Great Resignation?   

There is no getting away from the fact that the pandemic has changed us and made many employees reevaluate how we are living  It seems that employees between 30 and 45 years old have the greatest resignation rates.  Whilst turnover is typically a bit higher among younger employees, they are currently less likely to resign (most likely due to increased financial commitments).  We believe the reason for the higher number of resignations in the “mid-career” employees can be linked to these  three factors.

1. Remote working

The shift to remote working  has led to an increased demand for skilled workers.  With less in-person training and guidance available it would appear  that employers feel hiring people with little experience creates a greater risk than usual.  This can be  giving  mid-career employees greater leverage in negotiating and securing new positions.  What are you doing about adapting employee onboarding processes to accommodate this new world of working?

2. Uncertainty be gone

It’s no secret that in 2020 and even in early2021 there was still  too much uncertainty for the usual “New Year/New Job” trend.  Those that held on to their job throughout the early days of the pandemic were certainly not looking to move careers or consider jumping ship.  It’s quite possible  that the boost in resignations that we see happening now is in fact a result of 18 months of delayed resignations. What are you doing about employee retention?

3. Enough is enough

Of course, much has been  written about the mental health impacts  of remote working, lockdowns, and the uncertainty of the overall economic impact of the pandemic.  Many employees  may have just had enough of the higher workloads, budget and hiring  freezes and frequently feeling isolated from colleagues, not to mention ballooning personal pressures.  They may have decided enough is enough and are searching for the holy grail of a better work and life balance.

How are you dealing with any uncertainty in your workplace?

What can you do now to best prepare your people and your business for the Great Resignation? 

Based on our conversations with many business owners, HR leaders, CEOs and senior executives from a wide variety of industries we’d encourage you to focus on these questions for your leaders:

What are employees looking for?

How can you pull out the stops to ensure you are able to retain your existing employees and attract new employees for the big bounce back?  A recent survey conducted by Qualtrics established that 51% of Australians would stay longer with an employer if remote working became a permanent policy.  The pandemic has given employees the opportunity to establish new working routines and they want to keep them.  Work-life balance considerations are not new, but are have come more under the spotlight as we discover how much time we have up our sleeves if we are not having to commute to work.  Employees want to work for a company that can prove they understand the importance of a genuine work-life balance – and are committed to supporting mental health and wellbeing as a priority.  Employees are also in a better position to elevate salary negotiations.  With our international borders having been shut for well over 18 months, local talent is now in the driving seat and they want to see change.

Prepare your Business    

Lay the groundwork now to secure your people into the new year and position to become an ‘employer of choice’ for those who are in the market.

Keep in touch with your team – how are they really handling the work-life balance.  Just because you are not physically seeing them every day doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected.  Consider online “team drinks” or a team quiz if you are not already doing these.

Adopt a flexible working schedule if your business allows.  Consider part-time, job share and a way that  working from home can be a  a permanent option for those who want it. Be open to the discussion. Be on the front foot, and start the conversation.

If you are planning a recruiting blitz, let your team know.  They may already know someone perfect for the role.  But in any case, trust your gut instinct.  There are a lot of opportunities out in the market at the moment, don’t delay in securing the candidate you want.  If you don’t snap them up, someone else might. Now is good time to review your recruitment processes and make sure that they efficient and keep things moving at a fast pace for candidates.

In summary, you will probably have to wait and see if your employees are going to reassess their situation and join the great resignation – the pandemic has taught all of us the importance of being authentic, resilient and flexible.  Be realistic about what your employees are looking for and remember that flexibility, mental health and work-life balance have never been so high on the wish list of employees looking for their next role.  It’s up to you to be the business they want to stay with, or the business they want to join!