Currently dominating the headlines is ‘The Great Resignation’.

The whispers started months ago, yet in recent weeks, it seems as if the alarm bells have started to go off in Australian workplaces.  

The term ‘The Great Resignation’ was coined by psychologist Anthony Klotz back in April of this year as a record number of people started quitting their jobs in the United States.

This same trend is showing signs of having arrived on our shores as restrictions have started to lift. The prediction is that close to 40% of workers in Australia intend to leave their current roles over the next 12 months according to PWC and Deloitte, with a surge of departures expected in early 2022.

The Summer holidays aren’t far off, and most are looking forward to the much-needed break. It’s typically a time for reflection when people consider their current reality, what’s important to them, their goals for the New Year and how they can be achieved. The prediction is that as people start to look at their future, they might explore what they need to change…

Why are people leaving their jobs?

Attrition is normal. But turnover has been considerably low over the past 18 months as people wanted the security of their roles whilst so much uncertainty prevailed. It’s expected that the future turnover rate will be higher, with some even saying that millions will leave their jobs, which is much greater than usual.

I know people considering a role change (who haven’t before), and in a recent conversation with a leader, their team had lost three people just last week!
There are different reasons as to why people are considering changing jobs. For many, their job satisfaction is low. They’re not enjoying it, nor realising their potential. 

We’ve also got a large number of our workers currently ‘operating below the line’ either in a state of languish, struggle or burn out. They’re over-worked and stressed, they want to improve their state and are looking for ways for this to be achieved. They’re questioning whether a new role would help them feel better. Yet the grass isn’t necessarily greener, and feelings tend to follow wherever you go.
What’s more, the last 18 months have encouraged people to consider what’s really important to them and what they want their life to look like. Many are wanting to find roles where they can live out their purpose and feel like they’re doing something of meaning.
Additionally, some are looking for employers that offer flexible working policies as theirs have decided to take away remote-work options.
The reasons will vary, and typically they would have been evident long before the resignation occurs.

What can workplaces be doing?

It might be too late to change the minds of those who have already left. And you might not want to stop everyone from leaving…

But turnover for organisations is costly (in more ways than just money), particularly when good people are lost. Rather than letting it occur, action can be taken to retain your talent.
Of those who have recently left their jobs, 52% have said that their organisation could have done something to prevent them from leaving. This suggests that more can be done to prevent an influx of resignations occurring. And the time to act is now.

The good news is that these actions don’t have to cost a lot of money. And offering more compensation is typically an ineffective strategy. What employees really want is for their workplaces to show them that they care.

The best leaders are proactive in ensuring that their employees are engaged and satisfied. And this makes good business sense. As those that are more satisfied, are more productive, perform better, have higher wellbeing, and are more likely to stay with their employer. 

So leaders can focus on those that are staying by:

  • Understanding their goals and aspirations – perhaps with others leaving, there will be opportunities to take on new and challenging tasks 
  • Knowing their strengths so they can be developed 
  • Recognising their achievements no matter how big or small
  • Giving them learning and development opportunities
  • Aiming for a balance between their demands and the resources available (like time and people)
  • Ensuring there’s understanding of your company’s purpose and how they’re contributing so they derive a sense of meaning
  • Looking after their wellbeing (in addition to just social and physical health)
  • Promoting connection with team members in hybrid environments
  • Providing autonomy so they can choose where and when they do their job
  • Offering flexible work policies, which are no longer a perk of a job but should be a standard offering.

And for those that do go, acknowledge their contribution to the organsiation and express gratitude for the time they’ve spent with you and the value they’ve delivered. 

It’s inevitable that people will leave their employer at some point. But in an attempt to reduce the worst fallout from ‘The Great Resignation’, preventative action can be taken so people understand why they should stay.