A survey of workers across UK and Ireland has found that a pretty striking 38% of us are planning to quit our jobs this year – and similar surveys done in the US put the number even higher. Meanwhile, vacancies are sitting unfilled, and many employers are complaining that they can’t find people to fill many essential roles.
The media have dubbed it ‘the great resignation’, and started talking about a shift in employment dynamics that puts some of the power back in the hands of the workers. But what’s really going on?
Assessing our post-pandemic priorities
Over the past year, our working patterns have changed. Many non-key workers have found themselves working from home, ditching the commute and office politics in exchange for more time with the kids and flexibility to run quick errands or take a break. Meanwhile, those who do work in frontline jobs – from supermarket staff to postal workers – have been asked to put themselves at risk in a way many will never have anticipated.
Now employers on both sides of the table are facing a reckoning. Deskbound staff are asking why they should have to return to the office after proving that homeworking can be a success. Meanwhile, key workers are thinking about the demands made over the past year and whether their companies did enough to keep them safe.
A study from prudential, for example, found that 1 in 3 US workers wouldn’t want to work for a business that required them to be in the office full time. So a lot of what happens next will be down to employers, and how they choose to respond to changing employment trends.
Professor Anthony Klotz has suggested that people could also be rushing to leave jobs because it finally feels safe to do so. He said: “When there’s uncertainty, people tend to stay put, so there are pent-up resignations that didn’t happen over the past year.”
This means that many of those currently leaving their jobs have likely been considering it for a while, but are only now feeling like the time is right to make a move.
An exaggerated trend?
The data certainly shows that people are thinking about moving on to pastures new – but the surveys that have been done are all about intention rather than action. A lot of these people may be daydreaming about quitting their job without actually putting steps in place to make it happen. Business analysts are predicting that there will be a lot of competition for new roles over the coming months as people make themselves available, but time will tell how big the impact really is.
Thinking about your next step?
If you’re ready to jump ship to your next role then it may well be a great career move – studies frequently show that people earn bigger pay rises by moving to a different company rather than sticking it out in the same job. Advice from the experts is to try and make sure you have a new position lined up (or at the very least, a clear plan) before resigning.